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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 21 April 2001
Those who prefer the pulpier, pacier Dick novels, and I am one of those, might find Martian Time Slip slow and unexciting on a first read. Infact first time through it made no impression at all. I returned to it later though, on the back of having read most of PKD's output, and found a compelling novel hidden beneath the slightly bland veneer. The main fascination of the book is that it deals with at novel length, a theme that would consistently recur throughout Dick's later fiction - that of the 'tomb world' - a fallen state, entered into through depression, illness (autism in this novel) or some form of mental shock, in which human contact and empathy is no longer possible. In later works, including the exceptional Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldtritch and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the tomb world recurs as just one theme or plot strand amongst many. Here it expands to fill the whole.
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on 2 April 2002
Arnie Kott (the head of the plumbing union), Jack Bohlen (the schizoid repairman), Manfred (the autistic child), Norbert Steiner (the black market goodies man), and Doreen (Arnie's mistress) are just some of the people who inhabit PKD's dystopian vision of Mars, where economic stagnation is complemented by the spiritual stagnation of the residents, who shun and marginalize the native population - the Bleekmen.
Martian time - slip is relatively slow moving compared to 'Ubik' for example, but there is perhaps more rich symbolism here as PKD explores the issue of the fallen state of schizophrenia in his own inimitable fashion. Overall the tone of the novel is one of reflection and comprehension, even sadness at times.
I particularly enjoyed Jacks encounter with the malfunctioning teaching machines (Kindly Dad is especially humorous). This moment is full of humour and fear and is typical PKD. The 'Jack' character is complicated and full of pathos having more in common with the autistic Manfred (gubble, gubble) at times as he attempts to contain the madness inside himself.
On the downside is that PKD employs some dubious 'Sci-fi' ideas, including the canal-network (in which futuristic Mars is criss-crossed with a network of water-bearing canals), and the slow motion chamber (which is supposed to help the autistic Manfred, who 'only' suffers from an accelerated sense of time). The existence of highly evolved life on Mars could also be criticised, but one should not let these minor points stop you enjoying one of PKD's best works.
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on 5 September 2005
The book offers a more placid side to Dick's writing, it is no where near as dark as some of his some of his more famous novels such as A Scanner Darkly (a must read). and more accessible than than his later novels (Valis). Some may find this book slow of the mark but if you stick with it, the novel becomes gripping and the reader is soon lost into the throws of ever distorted time sense in the mind of Jack Bohlen. Unusual for Dick, mind bending drugs have no feature in this novel. Instead Dick uses the Schizophrenic boy Manfred Steiner, whose distorted time sense means he can see far and wide into the future as his medium for the chaos that erupts around the life of the key characters. Jack Bohlen was just an ordinary repairman on Mars until a unpleasant encounter with the head of the plumbers union Arnie Kott leads them both down a dark road of despair and desperation. Arnie wants to exploit the child Manfred possible time seeing ability, but to do this jack has to build a machine to communicate with the child. Jack now has a very high paying job but will the close proximity with this withdrawn kid spark off a second Schizophrenic episode.
A amazing novel one of dicks best, easy to read and yet will have the readers mind doing loops as they try to untangle the martian time slip. A must have in any Phillip K Dick Collection.
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on 30 January 2016
As the possibility of reaching Mars may become a viable dream again, the speculations of what we may find there and what kind of civilisation might be established there may begin to haunt our imaginations again. Maybe there will be no Bleekmen there - the Martian equivalent of Aborigines on Mars, though the way they are exploited by the big businesses that get established there by Earth interests sounds like par for the course. Whether or not there really is water on Mars is currently being debated, again.

This is PKD's nightmare vision of what we may encounter there.

Jack Bohlen has emigrated to Mars to put a distance between himself and his schizophrenia. He gets on the wrong side of local big cheese and wheeler dealer Arnie Kott, whose father has a rival interest in some real estate on Mars. Kott also believes that as a schizophrenic, Bohlen may be able to work therapeutically with an autistic boy Manfred, who is being taught by simulacra at a local institution. He believes that Manfred may be an asset to him once his ability to predict the future is decoded - that this may break Bohlen again is not something that unduly concerns him, after her was insulted.

As the novel dryly notes, however, not only do Bohlen nor Manfred seem to prosper little from knowing each other, but somehow, their hallucinations and distorted reality begin to infect and infiltrate the lives of everyone involved with them. Can there be anyone on Mars with the Shamanic wisdom to be able to put things right - and if so, whose rights should predominate?

Martian Timeslip is somewhat more introspective than any of Dick's other novels and the pace rather more leisured, but the themes of distorted reality and the role of empathy and the need for it versus lust for power make themselves felt loud and clear. It is not necessary for the reader to agree with Dick's understanding of mental illness or pervasive development disorderas, nor to find his Bleekmen credible, to enjoy reading this.

somehow endng up having an affair with Arnie's
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on 9 February 2009
Martian Time Slip is a very downbeat story, albeit with touches of typically quirky PKD humour, and has his usual themes of isolation, drug-use, and mental ailments. It also concentrates, like a lot of his stories, on distorted perceptions of realities, corrupt corporations, conspiracies and time travel. It's a real slow-burner of a tale, the story unfolds very gradually but it draws the reader into it's world and the plights of the various characters, Dick paints a fantastic vision of mars, in fact I'd go so far as to say this is the best novel written about Mars with the exception of Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. The book is certainly the most haunting and atmospheric of the PKD's novels I've read, and has a troubling, dreamlike feel to it. Dick's examinations of autism and schizophrenia relating to it's effects on time is a fascinating concept, and the various characters are all well realised and believable. Overall, I found this to be a very satisfying and stimulating read, one of the finest sci-fi novels I've read and a real highpoint in Philip K Dick's output. Highly recommended.
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on 10 June 2001
I am surprised to see such an indifferent rating for this book. I hadn't read much science fiction since a teenager 20 years ago but this year have come back to the fold. Have been reading a variety of authors - Delaney, le Guin, Blish - but find Dick the most vivid and arresting literature. With "Ubik", "Martian Time-Slip" is the one that remains most in my mind. I found it frightening - the accounts of Jack Bohleen's vists to Arnie Kott as Jack's psychosis grips him; the loss of Manfred at the school and Jack's interactions with the facsimile teaching machines; the final appearance of Manfred with the Bleekmen. And compassionate - Doreen's acceptance and support of Jack; the Bleekmen's acceptance of Manfred; Kott's death and even the descriptions of him. Dick seems to have had difficulty in rejecting his characters and their shortcomings. I feel this to be an extraordinary book, as vivid and substantial as any that I've read. Second reading may yet undermine my rating but I look forward to the opportunity for disappointment - if that's what's coming.
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on 22 May 2015
This is another of Dick's highly regarded novels, but it's not without its flaws. I've given it four stars as there's a lot in it that I enjoyed, even though there's a lot that's far from satisfactory; it's possibly not one for the hard SF fan or one who's not read Dick before.

The setting is Mars, though anyone expecting Kim Robinson or even Ray Bradbury may be disappointed. for it's ridiculously unrealistic. The canals have water in them; there are steam baths, a swimming pool; bicycles; a black market in treats from Earth - it's as though Dick has transplanted America onto Mars to tell his story. Maybe he did that deliberately; this came just after his award winning Man in the high castle, in which he uses an alternate world setting. He perhaps still had desires to be recognised as a literary writer, and really wanted to tell a mainstream story but set it on Mars to market it as SF.

He develops the characters very well, and there are some great ones in here: Arnie Kott, the selfish, hard-hearted ex-plumber who controls the water union and hence the planet's water supply, and Jack Bohlen "an idiot who fixes things" who ends up working for Arnie. Arnie wants to tap into the talents of a young boy, Manfred, who has psi abilities and can see the future - or so Arnie believes - and so can tell him what's going to be developed on up in the mountains. Unfortunately, as a rationale for Manfred's abilities, Dick puts this down to Manfred being autistic - or schizophrenic. Dick uses the two terms interchangeably, so the debates about mental illness are, like the setting, skewed. Jack too has had schizophrenic episodes and fears contact with Manfred will bring them back. Some of this makes for uncomfortable reading; Dick credits mental illness with all manner of attributes, and like the setting with its real canals, make for just one of the novel's flaws. (In later novels, Dick just made his characters pre-cogs etc and dispensed with an explanation altogether.)

But for the characters and some of the ideas, it deserves four stars. It's just a shame that Dick didn't find more for them to do, for the plot, shorn of its debates and wild ideas, is really a rather slight tale of land speculation. Worth reading though!
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on 12 March 2011
"Mars. A desolate place, forgotten by Earth Isolated homesteaders huddle along the lines of the great canals, in thrall to Arnie Kott and his plumbing Union which controls the vital water supply. Kott's manipulations poison the lives of those he draws to him: his mistress Doreen; Jack Bohlen, the schizoid repairman she comes to love; Manfred, an autistic child plagued by memories of a terrifying future; even the poor native Bleekmen of Mars"
-- from back cover

Philip K Dick's eleventh published novel, written in 1962 and published in 1964. The novel explores a number of themes such as time travel, mental illness, and the dangers of centralized authority, that Dick explored many times. 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.

"The finest American novelist of our time."
--Hartford Advocate

"Dick of the genuine visionaries that North American fiction has produced in this century."
--Steve Erickson, L.A. Weekly

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):

Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Ubik (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
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on 31 July 2001
An excellent surreal journey - witty in a darkly comic kind of way and extremely thought provoking.
Dick's Best 5 Reads?
1. Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
2. A Scanner Darkly
3. Martian Time-slip
5. Try all the short story volumes - if you are new to Dick try these first (my favourite collection is ' We Can Remember it for You Wholesale.'
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on 24 August 2011
This book is one of the highlights of the rich selection of books that Philip K Dick wrote. Where his insecurities about technology merging seamlessly into the human experience had built up this came through in his writings, and this book includes this common theme in the robotic school and the isolation of the people around whom the book revolves. As usual the characters are clear, distinct and engender differing emotional reactions from the reader.

The tale covers the frontier spirit of Mars as new world being captured for humanity, and targets greedy capitalism as a destructive influence. Strange elements revolving around Mars or the nature of more distorted people's minds bring a more unusual twist to the tale, which builds slowly as the book progresses, until by the end the whole tale is distorted by this influence leaving the reader a little unclear about what is perception affecting the real world, and what is merely a different viewpoint for recounting the tale.

A very enjoyable read for all classic Sci-Fi buffs, and one of my favorite books.
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