Ubik (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 10 Feb 2000
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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
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)
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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.
-- from the back cover
Written in 1966 and published in 1969, Ubik is Philip K Dick's twenty-fifth published novel. PKD's abiding themes were 'What is reality?' and 'What is it to be human?' and it is perhaps the first that is explored most obviously.
As with all PKD's works this novel makes you marvel at his imagination but also (if you are of a philosophical turn of mind) brings you to question and consider the themes he raises for yourself. PKD also creates characters that I at least find believable. As Ursula Le Guin has said "There are no heroes in Dick's books, but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." PKD's characters always strike me as in some way authentic.
In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik as one of the 100 greatest English-language novels published since 1923.
"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
--Paul Williams, Rolling Stone
"Philip Dick does not lead his critics an easy life, since he does not so much play the part of a guide through his phantasmagoric worlds as give the impression of one lost in their labyrinth."
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans"
If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (S.F. Masterworks)
A Scanner Darkly (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories
I had the same experiance with Palmer Eldritch, another good PKD book, that I would also recommend. But I bought this in paperback and loved it 10x more :). The language is diverse, and as an aspiring writer it's great for expanding ones vocabulary. It flows much better in regular paperback.
To be honest I was confused by a couple of things, but they were not critical to the whole plot, and certain characters are mentioned once or twice, and you never hear about them. But it doesn't matter becaue the characters that are involved primarily, are the ones you are giving your full attention.
The twist at the end is great, and the thoughts of PKD that are poured onto the page are just profound, though I will admit I only noticed it more during my second read.
So overall it's great and even the bad layout of the Kindle was not enough to break me away from the flow, but paperback . . . all the way. I don't have problems with a kindle by the way, other novels are laid out just fine, absent of constant spaces.
Kindle version: 8/10
A mild disappointment at the end too for me taste.
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