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3.9 out of 5 stars
21
3.9 out of 5 stars
Dr Bloodmoney (S.F. MASTERWORKS)
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on 15 October 2000
By the end of this year there will be 36 books in the Millennium SF Masterworks series and six of them will have been written by Philip K Dick, making him by far the commonest author to be represented. Has the inclusion of so many PKD titles so far been justifiable? A resounding yes to this, I think, especially if there are all at least as good as Dr Bloodmoney (in fact, some of them are even better). Dick's apocalyptic storyline may be familiar to those who have read his collected short stories as an abbreviated fragment of this novel turned up in Volume 5 (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale) under the title 'A Terran Odyssey'. The novel concentrates on the interactions of a small group of people several years after the bomb has been dropped. Society is almost back to basics. Human and animal mutations are commonplace and the only thing bringing many of the small isolated groups of survivors together is a man stranded in a satellite orbiting the earth sending out regular messages (including book readings) via radio. Dick chronicles the ups and downs of one group of people, amongst whom is the man possibly responsible for the earth's present state. Thought-provoking, and with an afterword by the author composed some time after he wrote the original text, this is an easier read than some of Dick's later works.
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on 15 December 2016
This was my thirteenth PKD novel and it stood out as being the worst. As others reviewers had remarked, as with all his books there are always a few innovative ideas which resonate with the human psyche; and this one is no different.
But the story per se is convoluted. It has too many non essential characters who add nothing to the storyline, and many of them are badly developed and instantly forgettable. The story showed promise early on but kept flatlining. About half way through I knew I was reading a plodding, dreary potboiler I wished I'd never laid eyes on. It became a triumph of will for me to battle through to the end of the book, but I managed it. I found the afterword at the back of the book the most interesting part. Written by PKD many years after the book was published. It provided an interesting insight to an undoubtedly visionary author.
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on 20 January 2001
The normal Philip Dick traits can be found in this book. Paranoia - Bleak landscape - wacky characters but surprise, surprise a reasonably happy, uplifting ending. Dick uses the 'worm that turned' scenario to good affect in the case of Hoppy and Stuart - but do either find their change in fortunes beneficial.
Well written and an interesting post bomb premise means that this is another good read from PKD - as other reveiwers have mentioned Dick certainly has a high percentage of releases in the Masterwork stable - another two are scheduled for late in 2001 - and this shows the popularity and esteem held for this unique Sci-fi writer.
Highly recommended - includes a forthright Afterword by the man himself.
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on 20 July 2010
Dr Bloodmoney, published in 1965, is one of Philip Dick's most consistent novels. It is set in an imagined late 20th century California, in the years immediately before and after a catastrophic nuclear exchange, and follows the lives of a variety of local people who are obliged to forge an existence in greatly changed circumstances.

This being a Dick novel, things are more complicated than this bare outline might suggest. Dick is relatively uninterested in the obvious consequences of nuclear war. Instead, he focusses on the changes brought about in the human and animal population by mutation, and the peculiar interaction between human psychological frailties and the opportunities created by the realisation of a fantasy of destruction and the disruption of existing hierarchies of authority.

Among the talking dogs, telekinetic thalidomide victims and stranded astronauts Dick takes the time to construct complex, credible characters who are neither simply villains nor heroes. Only in a Dick novel would such people exist alongside others who can talk to the dead, or who have limited knowledge of the future. This is thoughtful science fiction, and even now both a credible meditation on the roots of human evil and an insight into the fears of the Kennedy years.

Dr Bloodmoney isn't as celebrated as some of Dick's other novels, but it deserves to be better known. It's among the half-dozen best, and is more approachable than most - by Dick's standards, a work of optimism.
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on 21 December 2000
I tucked into Dr Bloodmoney with relish having read the previous reviews in this section, but have to say that I was heartily disappointed. Compared to Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, The Man in the High Castle, Valis or any of the five volumes of short stories (plus many of his other books) I think that this is one of the weakest I have yet to come across. It simply didn't hold my attention.
It contains all the usual character quirks and paranoia found in all of his work but it struck me as if he had a host of interesting ideas lying around which he threw together into one story without developing any of them, or the characters, sufficiently. At the halfway point I became interested, finally, with what was going on, only to be disappointed when suddenly the all powerful menace which had been building his powers for seven years is vanguished in the blink of an eye as is Dr Bloodmoney before him and everything suddenly turns out rosey in the last couple of pages; not very Dick at all.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 May 2014
This is a great post-apocalyptic novel by PKD, fans of PKD will recognise a number of themes familiar to his writing, such as strong character driven narratives, an "inner space" focus and protagonists challenged by being unsure of whether or not the external world matches with their perception of the same, unsure whether their judgement is impaired or trustworthy.

In contrast to a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, such as The Road or its ilk, PKD manages to produce a very optimistic piece of work and I have always thought that his characters are fully rendered, his writing being very humanistic, they usually are not flawless but presented in a "warts and all fashion". As other reviewers have said this can lend itself to considerations or reflection about good and evil in each of the characters. What it does make for is a great read, the style and pace of writing is great and it is a page turner.

This is not a PKD book which I would have known by reputation prior to taking it up and reading it and perhaps it is less well known, which I think is a real shame, it was as enjoyable as the other books which I like a lot, such as time out of joint, cosmic puppets, our friends on frolix 8. Like all those books there are themes and ideas which would be the stuff of an entire book by itself by any other author but which PKD manages to weave as simply one strand among others.

Recommended.
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on 13 September 2009
I felt that I should write to disagree with the negative reviews of this Philip Dick masterpiece. Having all of the authors books I would put this in the top five of his novels along with Now wait for last year, The Simulacra, A Scanner darkly and the novel he wrote with Ray Nelson The Ganymede takeover. Don't hesitate to add this book to your collection you will be delighted that you did!!
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on 17 June 2011
It's the end of the world. Again. And this is the account of a select bunch of San Franciscan survivors as they adapt to the new conditions....so a typical post-apocalyptic set-up then.

Unfortunately it's a dreary read. There are a few great ideas (horse-drawn Cadillacs, animals evolving human-like intelligence etc), and he touches on some deeper, more abstract themes including a Thalidomide victim whose premonitionse strengthen his resolve to transcend his physical limits, and an astronaut stranded in orbit broadcasting songs, advice and hope to the embryonic communities on a ravaged earth.

A third of the way in and Dr.Bloodmoney has flat-lined. There is a cast of roughly ten characters in the book, and PKD insists on giving each of them more or less equal billing. Six of these characters are instantly forgettable and serve next to no narrative purpose. They could be jettisoned from the novel without consequence but as it stands they merely serve as coma-inducing padding. Just as the narrative (and our interest) picks up Dick dutifully insists on switching focus to another character. And so we must endure pages and pages documenting the lives of dreary people and their dreary self-analysis before Dick manages to offer up another all too brief morsel of enjoyment.

It required an act of will to finish Dr.Bloodmoney. The battle was not only the sheer torpor of the narrative but Dick's uneven writing. To say that PKD was a mediocre writer is hardly a new charge, and in his better novels the ideas often manage to eclipse the mechanical prose. But with a novel as dull as Dr.Bloodmoney it becomes a test of endurance. There are only so many sentences like these....

"To himself, Barnes thought, But she could tell George."
"To herself as she watched the scene Bonny thought...."
"To Hardy and Stuart McConchie he said...."

....one can take before your teeth begin to itch.

Anyway, two stars for the ideas.
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on 4 September 2013
This is my new favourite Philip K Dick book. It was totally fantastic! Post-apocalyptic and apocalyptic and grand. It's confusing and intriguing. It seems like the apocalypse has already happened and people are living in a much harsher version of 1981 and then the bombs fall. There are some brilliant and amazing descriptions of the awfulness of being bombed. The post-apocalyptic society is interesting in that it doesn't change as much as many other post-apocalyptic novels. It's an odd blend between things being better after the bombs and being worse. One of my favourite scenes was when they were interviewing someone to be the new teacher and they were finding out what practical skills and knowledge he had, then casually mentioned how they killed their last teacher. There's a lot more character development in this than in other Philip K Dick books. The change in people's lives in the pre-bombs and post-bombs days is quite dramatic but the threads are all there so it feels like a really nice continuity. There's an afterword in the back by Philip K Dick saying how he didn't get any predictions right in the book but he sees it as hopeful and that the characters are very natural. I think that is partly why I liked it so much. It is a hopeful apocalypse for all that it is disturbing and sad. As soon as I finished reading it I turned back to page one and started to read it again. Knowing the journey of the characters and having spent time with them I wanted to go back and see them again, knowing how they'd end up and seeing their journey with that new knowledge. I totally loved this.
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on 20 August 2012
I've been working my way through the SF masterworks, and without a doubt Philip K. Dick is so far consistently disappointing. I'm hoping it is down to personal taste, after all his work must be good to have so many of his books in the SF Masterwork list.

However, I find his stories frequently fragmented, and usually with disappointing endings. In terms of fragmented stories, this is pretty high up on the list. The ending is ok, though I feel like other P. K. Dick stories it could have had more of a climax and not ended so abruptly.

Overall, it's an interesting read, but I frequently found myself waiting for the story to develop and "get better" and then just as it did, it ended! Unless you are a fan, or also working your way through the SF Masterwork list, I think there are much better SF books to be enjoyed.
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