Top positive review
Short, but packed with intersting ideas
on 24 February 2013
This is a short book running in at only 200 pages, but one of his most entertaining and well-plotted novels full of interesting invention and ideas. Floyd Jones is a man who can see a year into the future which he uses in a quest for power as a quasi-religious figure in a post-apocalyptic world where religion is outlawed as having no base in reality...
The secret service of the incumbent government try all sorts to stop Jones's rise to power, but because he has seen every twist and turn of a year ahead he thwarts all attempts at stopping him, at one point literally dodging a bullet. However, as usual with PKD, there's more than this story going on. We also have the appearance of massive single-celled blobs from outer space causing much disconcertion. Could it be an invasion? What do the blobs want? The population turns to Jones for answers and his call for a crusade could ultimately be his undoing. There are also a group of genetic mutants housed inside a sealed refuge in a mysterious lab with an artificial climate, and a secret service policeman called Cussick whose marriage is on the rocks (PKD writes about broken marital relationships and divorce quite often - a reflection on his own repeatedly troubled home life no doubt) especially when his wife joins Jones's burgeoning cult.
Each element on its own would make an interesting tale (indeed Jones reminds me of Nicholas Cage's character in the film Next) and it is to PKD's credit that he ties all these elements together to deliver a greater whole. At times I thought that perhaps he is telling an allegorical tale, perhaps about communism, but PKD would probably just write about communism up front if he wanted to, not dick (`scuse the pun!) about with metaphors. That said there are elements of this book that mirror the post-911 environment of government propaganda in the US and the willingness of a desperate administration and their followers latching on to the idea of a perhaps misguided crusade. There is also a palpable feeling of despair shared across all the main characters including Jones himself who has foreseen his own death.