Vulcan's Hammer (Vintage) Paperback – 1 Aug 2004
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From the Back Cover
After the twentieth century s devastating series of wars, the world s governments banded together into one globe-spanning entity, committed to peace at all costs. Ensuring that peace is the Vulcan supercomputer, responsible for all major decisions. But some people don t like being taken out of the equation. And others resent the idea that the Vulcan is taking the place of God. As the world grows ever closer to all-out war, one functionary frantically tries to prevent it. But the Vulcan computer has its own plans, plans that might not include humanity at all.PHILIP K. DICK (1928 1982) wrote 121 short stories and 45 novels and is considered one of the most visionary authors of the twentieth century. His work is included in the Library of America and has been translated into more than twenty five languages. Eleven works have been adapted to film, including "Blade Runner" (based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"), "Total Recall," "Minority Report," and "A Scanner Darkly."" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Someone has infiltrated the world government and Director William Barris suspects his superior Director Jason Dill is guilty. After all he is the supreme human leader and has exclusive access to Vulcan 3. It never occurs to him that the problem lies with the cold, perfect computer itself. As the world government and the Healers fight each other in a divide and conquer situation Vulcan 3 is busy building terrifying weapons to unleash on the world.
This is not one of Philip K. Dick's better known works but its relatively short length make it a good introduction to the works of one of America's most visionary writers. It has a Big Brother scenario and also asks if a totalitarian state is a worthwhile price to pay for world peace and prosperity, making it relevant today.
The world is at peace, but a rebel group, The Healers, led by Father Fields, is unhappy with Vulcan 3's dictatorial status and vows to destroy the machine. The novel begins with the murder of a Unity agent, Arthur Pitt, in his car, and grows progressively wieirder, as can be expected from most any Dick novel. This is a fairly early work, and although superficially it sits well with the mainstream SF of its time, it still displays many of the ideas and themes that dominated Dick's later work.
At one point, Jason Dill has Father Fields' daughter Marion removed from school and sequestered. Marion is a mature and perceptive child but it is unclear whether she is voicing her own views or has been indoctrinated by the dogmatic teachings of her father. The question is ironic, since the schools Unity are running, under the direction of Vulcan 3, do not encourage dissent or thinking which is contrary to government policy.
One assumes that Dick is using Vulcan 3 as a metaphor for the government machine, a dispassionate entity which is controlling the population, rather than the other way around. This idea is later taken to surreal lengths in `The Simulacra' in which the leader of the Western World is, in fact, a simulacrum, a machine to provide the face of government which others are manipulating behind the scenes.
Refreshingly, Dick doesn't follow many of his contemporaries into portraying an issue of oppressed populace versus evil dictator. There are shades of grey here.Read more ›