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Ubik (Vintage) Paperback – 1 Aug 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books Ed edition (1 Aug. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679736646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679736646
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,837,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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.

Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."

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")?

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 alternate Paperback edition.

Review

SALES POINTS '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 '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 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
After Reading "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep", I must admit that I was concerned that I would not be able to top that. Fortunately, Ubik surpassed all my expectations. Other reviewers here have detailed the plot, which I think is unfair, since Ubik is a constant page-turner and fascinator. So I will not give anything away.
Fortunately, Minority Report touches upon many of the major themes within Ubik, espcially the industry grown out of Pre-cognition and Psionic ability. It is therefore timely to read this now, and hopefully this will spur on others to take an interest in this most fascinating of authors.
Ubik touches upon many of Dick's core themes (a true Auteur): psychic ability (and its power), faith and religion, regression and postmodernity, death, insanity, drugs, experience etc. etc. However, it truly excels as a narrative, and I completely disagree with those critics who merely saw the characters within this book.
Some points within in are beyond imagination, and will simply blow your mind. The vertigo within this surpasses any other SF I have read. Added to this is some excellent characterisation and social commentary (for example, Runciter vs. Joe Chip, both attempting to save the company, but both representing the dichotomies within capitalism), and some crazy philosophy.
Anyway, before I drool too much, and contemplate starting it again, I shall leave you with my strongest urges to read this book! Forget the rubbish about "well, its not technologically accurate", because that is to lose the point with Dick; unlike other SF writes (most notably Asimov, who likes to portray a history of the future), Dick merely expresses possible worlds (very dark and crazy worlds). Yes, themes do exist, such as 'papes and hovercars and vidphones, but ignore this and concetrate on Dick's stiringly accurate imagination. Sit back and realise that the future is now, in the most unbelievable way imaginable.
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Format: Paperback
This was the second book of Philip K. Dick's I read and one of the few that I regularly return to. Ignore its cheesy cover (which seems to be going for the single male market, since it has nothing to do with the story) and just absorb all the weird concepts and twists and turns PKD has to offer. It's a superb thriller, where you can't take anything for granted, and shot through with his superb humour. What other author would envision a corporate world where you have to pay a toll to use doors, and where psychic powers are so commonplace that those with telepathy are treated like common neighbourhood pests?
Above all, Ubik is very very accessible. It's not cluttered with the messed-up amphetamine-fuelled oddness of his later novels, and there's less techno babble than usual. Even if you're not into science fiction, it's well worth a look if only to show you that just because a novel is set in the future, doesn't mean it has to be full of ridiculous overblown theatrics and weird aliens.
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Format: Paperback
Philip K. Dick wrote "A Maze of Death" in which the bizzare lives of the individuals in the book turn out not to be what you , or they , think. In the end they are able , if they so wish , to be reedemed by the intercessor. It is not a well written or readable book ( and I am a life long PKD fan).
In contrast we have a better written and very readable 'Ubik'. 'Ubik' has similar themes and visions of a future to place them against. Once again a disparate band are thrown together and , as one by one they are eliminated , struggle to make sense of their changing world and the circumstances they find themselves in. Of course reality is not what it seems , but in the end they , with some intercession ,strive struggle and endure. Maybe.
Philip K.Dick was praised and feted for 'The Man in the High Castle' and 'The Martian Time-slip' and these are fine and dandy. Several of his ideas have been 'translated' into films such as 'Blade Runner' and others. However I feel that , after 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' 'Ubik' is one of his better works focused on one of his more interesting writing themes.
RECCOMMENDATION Try 3 of them , they are short and read ( the first time ) quite quickly - 'Ubik' first then 'Do Andriods dream of Electric Sheep and finally 'A scanner darkly'. Then go away and read everthing else he ever wrote.
Later books by the author decline into navel gazing introspective and personal vision stuff which is not , unless you have the same vision , easy to read or get much from. If you have started with one of those , give him one more go read 'Ubik'.
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Format: Paperback
If you've never read a Dick book before, read 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' because it's a lot mroe accessible as a piece of fiction.
This on the other hand is something entirely different, a glorious combination of strange SF paradies and the genuine paranoia that seems to flow through most all of Dick's work. The hero of the book, Joe Chip, is well, anything but a Hero, in keeping with Dicks desire to reprsent the lesser man. As we follow Joe's world we see it is one filled with paraonia, created by people's new found ability to use ESP (ie telepathy) to a variety of means. Joe works for Glen Runciter, head of a company that is in charge of trying to combat and cancel out the effects these people are having. Add to this the fact that Glen Runciter often visits his dead wife, who is stuck somewhere between heaven and hell and you have so many realities for Dick to play with that boy does he have some fun.
The trademark Dick humour is here in abundance, like the reviewer says, the scene with the door and Joe is hilarious, plus there are many other moments that I won't spoil. The ending is a masterstroke - though you'll probably love or hate it, there's no denying it leaves all sorts of questions and late nights spent scratching your head. And if that isn't the definition of a good Sci-Fi novel, I'll eat my hat.....
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