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on 30 October 2016
This year I have been attempting to either revisit some old classics or try to find some more.

I have reread "84" and "Animal Farm", I have found "At War with the Newts" and others, but this book stands out.

I have only read one other PKD book (Man in the High Castle) and it was good, but nothing like this.

I hold George Orwell as the benchmark for written excellence but reading this makes me want to read more PKD and challenge my opinion.

I have researched this book a little after completion, and I understand the challenge of making this, and other PKD books into film... but I would love to see this on the big screen.

If this genre is for you thwn I 100% recommend this book.

Enjoy, I'm sure you will.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 April 2014
Although I'm familiar (as most people are) with the work of PKD through the various films that his short stories and novels have spawned, and others he has inspired, this was to my shame, my first ever PKD read. Ubik centres on a near future earth where telepathic and pre-cognitive abilities have become commonplace, and indeed dangerous to big business. As Dick wonderfully explains, in a form of natural evolutionary balance, an opposing force has developed alongside them, that of the "inertials": people born with an innate the ability to "block" specific types of psychic ability. When a business magnate hires the Prudence organisation (a company of such inertials) to secure his lunar facilities from telepaths, it's owner Glenn Runciter assembles eleven of his agents for the task, including Joe Chip a debt-ridden technician, and the newly hired Pat, a young woman with the unprecedented parapsychological ability to counter pre-cog ability by undoing past events. But what follows sends Chip and the team spiralling into peculiar events where their very existence seems to shift between past, present, and an eerie alternative universe where an ominous presence appears to be bearing an unfathomable influence. As they struggle to understand what's happening, the lines between reality and unreality begin to blur and the truth perhaps lies only in the strangely scrawled messages and notes that begin to appear in impossibly random locations, and the significance of the mysterious multi-purpose product "UBIK". But can the team survive long enough to find the answers and save themselves?

Ubik firmly deserve the accolade of "Masterwork". It's amazing to think that this visionary novel, exploring the themes of technology and reality is over 50 years old and it's clear why PKD continues to be such a massive influence on the science fiction community. The book itself is beautifully told, with the downbeat and broke Technician Joe Chip, and Prudence owner Runciter sharing the pov for the majority of the narrative. Dick's concise descriptions of a somewhat disconnected and impersonal future through its incessantly rigid machine operated systems and steampunk-esque 'retro-future' devices are brilliantly evocative, whilst his explanations of complicated physics keep you firmly rooted in the genre, yet awlays on the right side of sci-fi babble. In fact, through a seamless use of character and scene, Dick does a perfect job of maintaining tension and momentum in a story that in other hands could easily be nothing more than a massively self indulgent mess. Above all, in spite the wealth of its wonderfully inventive ideas and tehcnological world building, Ubik is much mroe than a set of brilliant concepts moulded into a story. It's a darkly comic, intriguing, and thoroughly absorbing narrative that works because of a perfect symbiosis between setting chracter and story and pushes forward to the next mind bending twist and turn with the masterful ease of an author who understands his reader.

At a basic level it's a solid sci-fi yarn, but Ubik has so much more to offer than that; with PKD's typical themes of humanity and boundaries of reality and in the case of Ubik itself, even the very nature of faith in its human and theological forms.

As an intro to PKD's writings, I can't recommend this highly enough. I for one will now be scouring through his catalogue!
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on 10 March 2011
"Glen Runciter is dead. Or is he? Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out. If it hasn't already."
-- from the back cover

Written in 1966 and published in 1969, Ubik is Philip K Dick's twenty-fifth published novel. PKD's abiding themes were 'What is reality?' and 'What is it to be human?' and it is perhaps the first that is explored most obviously.

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. PKD also creates characters that I at least find believable. As Ursula Le Guin has said "There are no heroes in Dick's books, but there are heroics. One is reminded of Dickens: what counts is the honesty, constancy, kindness and patience of ordinary people." PKD's characters always strike me as in some way authentic.

In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik as one of the 100 greatest English-language novels published since 1923.

"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
--Paul Williams, Rolling Stone

"Philip Dick does not lead his critics an easy life, since he does not so much play the part of a guide through his phantasmagoric worlds as give the impression of one lost in their labyrinth."
-- Stanislaw Lem, "Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans"

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):

The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (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 18 May 2017
For those of you who know Dick, this review is pointless. For those of you who don't know Dick but are into reading, this book is a must. Don't expect any clarity though. Expect more questions than answers perhaps? Enjoy!
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on 10 May 2016
PKD, though nearly all of his books are flawed in one way or other, was a genius. Ubik contains familiar themes of paranoia, and fears of a deteriorating mind/world - if you don't recognize this condition then you are probably not human (in which case you should read all his books as research for your future invasion/infiltration). If you've read all of his books before, read them all again. Not the best cover I've seen on Ubik but not bad.
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on 17 March 2015
Said to be one of the greatest sic-fi writers and this book - in my opinion - shows why that might be so. A simple detective story without too many Agatha Christie type twists and turns and not too many red herrings. Great read. Why only 4 stars? Mmmmm...something about the ending that didn't quite fit but only a small point!
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on 26 April 2016
Came quickly but needs to be made more clear that this is a FRENCH copy.... bought as a gift and sent straight to my friend, bit embarrassing when they had to return it because they can't read it!..... I know this is my fault for not reading all of the details properly, but it should be stated in the title!!
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on 15 April 2013
A good slow burner of a read really. Yes it moves along quickly but you really need to keep your head to keep up with everything. It all gets rather abstract (kind of a cross between Vanilla Sky and Dusk till Dawn) as in everything seems to be going swimmingly and then someone flips the world upside down and you really can't figure out what the hell is going to happen.
A mild disappointment at the end too for me taste.
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on 29 January 2014
I've read some of Dick's work previously but that was many years ago. This is the first I've read recently and, wow, what a story! So many levels. I loved the strangeness of the thing, and the mystery, both of which stayed with me through to the very end. It's a book I'll probably return to at some point, because I'm sure I will have missed things first time through.
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on 1 March 2015
This book reminded me of a retro version of minority report mixed with inception. The technology is obviously 'off' seeing as it was written long before the internet, mobile phones and digital transactions however this did not adversely ruin the immersion.
I won't describe the story as it's best read with no preconceptions.
Great thought provoking story.
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