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Ubik (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 1 Aug 2006
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Nobody but Philip K Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlours where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:
"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes badly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets or product labels. Meanwhile fragments of reality are time-slipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on US coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?
Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."
The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way...Another nifty choice from Millennium SF Masterworks. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
My literary hero (Fay Weldon)
For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first (Terry Gilliam)
One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Dick made most of the European avant-garde seem like navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac (Sunday Times)
Top customer reviews
I have reread "84" and "Animal Farm", I have found "At War with the Newts" and others, but this book stands out.
I have only read one other PKD book (Man in the High Castle) and it was good, but nothing like this.
I hold George Orwell as the benchmark for written excellence but reading this makes me want to read more PKD and challenge my opinion.
I have researched this book a little after completion, and I understand the challenge of making this, and other PKD books into film... but I would love to see this on the big screen.
If this genre is for you thwn I 100% recommend this book.
Enjoy, I'm sure you will.
Ubik firmly deserve the accolade of "Masterwork". It's amazing to think that this visionary novel, exploring the themes of technology and reality is over 50 years old and it's clear why PKD continues to be such a massive influence on the science fiction community. The book itself is beautifully told, with the downbeat and broke Technician Joe Chip, and Prudence owner Runciter sharing the pov for the majority of the narrative. Dick's concise descriptions of a somewhat disconnected and impersonal future through its incessantly rigid machine operated systems and steampunk-esque 'retro-future' devices are brilliantly evocative, whilst his explanations of complicated physics keep you firmly rooted in the genre, yet awlays on the right side of sci-fi babble. In fact, through a seamless use of character and scene, Dick does a perfect job of maintaining tension and momentum in a story that in other hands could easily be nothing more than a massively self indulgent mess. Above all, in spite the wealth of its wonderfully inventive ideas and tehcnological world building, Ubik is much mroe than a set of brilliant concepts moulded into a story. It's a darkly comic, intriguing, and thoroughly absorbing narrative that works because of a perfect symbiosis between setting chracter and story and pushes forward to the next mind bending twist and turn with the masterful ease of an author who understands his reader.
At a basic level it's a solid sci-fi yarn, but Ubik has so much more to offer than that; with PKD's typical themes of humanity and boundaries of reality and in the case of Ubik itself, even the very nature of faith in its human and theological forms.
As an intro to PKD's writings, I can't recommend this highly enough. I for one will now be scouring through his catalogue!
The book is very indicative of the period, when it was written, where exploring alternate social structures and hypotheses on future societal organization was more important in science fiction than a space based action filled narrative. In this way Ubik is certainly an interesting read, with lots of potentially possible alternatives explored (to their logical conclusion, something the inventors are sometimes loath to do) and with a suitably deadpan humor to boot.
If you liked previous Dick work, or have enjoyed your Heinlein, you cannot really go wrong with Ubik. If you are more looking for a techno thriller in your sci-fi, the book is most likely not it, though.