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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 January 2009
I quite liked this, although it isn't one of his best, but if you are going to get it my tip is to avoid the Harper/Voyager 2008 edition as it has small typos scattered through the text. If that's the sort of thing you notice, it gets rather annoying. I'm not sure if any of the other editions have the same flaw, but they're unlikely to be worse.
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on 14 March 2003
Years before computers could create virtual realities by dozens, Philip K. Dick, by the sole power of his words, was describing books after books virtual mental universes that were a lot more frightful than those our beloved techno-directors try vainly to shape nowadays. Among the four novels he published in 1964, MARTIAN TIME-SLIP and CLANS OF THE ALPHANE MOON were treating this Dickian theme by essence.
After an interstellar war that ended 15 years ago, the world has forgotten this alphane moon and its inhabitants. Alpha III was considered as a giant hospital for mentally ill people by the Earth; now maniaco-depressives, schizophrenics and obsessive have founded cities and try to leave peacefully. But Alphans and Earth want to retake possession of this forgotten moon for obscure political reasons.
If you liked EYE IN THE SKY, a novel published 7 years before by PKD, you will appreciate CLANS OF THE ALPHANE MOON and its numerous points of views. The same events are described and analyzed by the different characters and one is lead to understand very soon that there is no objectiveness in Reality and that the actions of so-called sane people often obey to rather perverse motivations. Anyway, if you're a Philip K. Dick fan, you already know by now that there is no such thing as Reality !
A book to discover.
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on 24 February 2007
`Clans of the Alphane Moon' is about an estranged Earth colony made up entirely of the mentally deranged, caught in the heart of an intergalactic cold war. This is a great platform for Dick to weave his twisted black humour and paranoid dialogue. A society where everyone groups together under their diagnosis, under the banner of a famous sufferer - Da Vinci the Maniac, Adolf the Paranoid, Gandhi the Hebephreniac, etc - can be seen as a microcosm of a human society ruled by Freudian self-analysis and California lifestyle-obsessed self-help. A prediction of a future ruled by an increasingly neurotic, hypocritical and therapy-addicted modern man.

The usual Dickian themes are here in force - paranoia of the CIA; vast, tangled conspiracies controlling every aspect of life; scepticism of Communism but a greater fear of American cold war tactics - but it is also a good example of one of Dick's rarely commented on themes, fear and scepticism of womankind. Philip K. Dick's world is populated by two highly negative archetypes of modern woman; the shallow and fickle nymphomaniac, who act as literary eye-candy and usually betray the hero; and the manipulative, domineering and sadistic emancipated woman, usually portrayed as a businesswoman, politician or Freudian psychologist (in this case, the latter). This makes Dick something of a twentieth century August Strindberg, and as with all of Dick's observations, we at first put them down to egocentric paranoia, and only later think about them seriously.

This book isn't on the same level as Dick's more famous novels, but nonetheless, the idea of a society ruled by lunatics is an original and witty premise, and that alone makes this book worth reading.
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on 10 June 2000
Yes, it's true, Dick can write things that aren't entirely morbid. :) Dark writing has its place, and there's no-one to do it better than Philip K, but nonetheless I enjoyed the humour in this book. Admittedly, it takes a very 'specialized' sense of humour to find anything funny, but... :)
I particularly liked the clan names - Obcoms, Mandeps, and so forth. :) More creative and specific than the commonly-used acronyms - OCD, for example, is also the name of a law-firm.
But I'm rambling. :) 'Tis a wonderful book, and though the idea of the inmates overruning the asylum has been done to a horrible death, Philip K. Dick puts his usual twist(s!) on things and makes a truly unique book out of a tired old theme :)
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on 10 March 2010
This is one of Dicks best. I am a massive fan and really enjoyed this novel. Yet another book filled with Dicks dark humour and paranoia set in a vivid future that bends the imaginaton.

The protagonist is named Chuck who works as a 'writer' for the C.I.A. he programs similcra which are essentially androids/replica's or what ever term you wish. these people can run on their own programming (What Chuck has written) but this is basic, like autopilot. So the similcra are often operated by a C.I.A agent. (Surrogates with Bruce Willis is a perfect example)

This sets the basis for the story baecause very early on you discover that Chuck plans to kill his soon to be ex-wife, a psychiatrist who is milking him for every penny he has and is forcing him to take an extra writing job with a Television comedian.

His wife trots off to a distant planet long forgetten during a war, a planet that was a hospital for the mentally ill. the moon has now become split into 'factions' with maniacs, skitzo's and all manners of deranged people banding together in their groups. It's on the moon and the relationships with one another that really flurish with Dicks dark humour.

Chuck soon discovers that his wife is on the moon with a C.I.A similcra named Meagebom and realises he could use the andriod to kill Mary.
the simple plan however hits plenty of snags with some comical scenes.
Dick excells in Clans of a Alphane moon. for me it seemed to be a rollacoaster, as Chuck juggles a murder plot, The watchful C.I.A, a demanding T.V comic and a blackmailing psychic slime mould.

A brilliant, must read!
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on 9 May 2012
Philip K. Dick is famous for crafting literary worlds of crippling paranoia and metaphysical uncertainty, where realities bleed into each other and a hallucination may just be the only sane perspective on the world at large. All that is (sort of) left behind in 'Clans', which is about as close to a straight space opera as Dick would ever get. Here a lost colony of mankind has been overrun by its asylum inmates who have, curiously enough, established a vaguely functioning society with each psychosis relegated its own 'clan' - Paranoid Schizophrenics are 'Pars' for example and the 'Manses' are Manic. Meanwhile a typical Dick anti-hero (read down on his luck schlub with an ex-wife from hell) is catapulted into the whole mess by sinister government forces (and the sinister government forces of the crab people, natch), receiving much needed help (and dating advice) from an intelligent and semi-immortal mold colony. Sound like fun?
It all moves at break neck speed and is far madder and less anxiety-inducing than most of Dick's work, but stands more as a lighter take on his themes rather than an abandonment of them (the madmen, it is suggested, CAN change reality with their minds - their just too mad to do anything particularly ambitious with their power). As such, fans of Dick's work will find this a jolly change of pace, while newcomers can take the novel as a sort of transitional drug. I like to think Dick would approve.
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on 14 September 2008
This was a surprising treat as my expectations where not high. `Clans of the Alphane Moon' is a very funny, pre-religious psychosis, Dick gem.

Those familiar with Dick's back catalogue will recognise many of the characters but they do feel fresh here with the author still working out some different eccentricities. It's unpredictable and funny and well worth a read.

A note on the topic as well, Dick was institutionalised on a number of occasions for bad mental health and became something of an expert on psychological conditions. It adds an air of believability to what is a fantastically surreal high concept for the story. It also shows that with a little extra thought a writer can get beyond the 'mental patient as visionary' cliché that is so often trotted out in even the best speculative fiction.

The pace is very fast and after a clunky start (the opening chapter being a bit painful, unusual for a Dick novel) it soon hurtles incessantly towards the end.

A good place to start if you haven't read Dick before.
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on 19 December 2007
On a moon of the Alpha system over three light years from Earth is a mental hospital full of inmates. Following a war between Earth and Alphane the moon is abandonned and the inmates set up their own society, with each clan gathering according to their (rather sterotyped) illnesses. So the paranoids are in one clan and the depressives in another, and so on. It's all extremely improbable, of course, but rather fun in Dick's madcap way. Unfortunately, the action keeps shifting to Earth, where Chuck Rittersdorf, a CIA robot programmer, is planning to kill his wife - one of the many typically shrewish female characters that populate Dick's fiction. This espionage plot rather goes round in circles, and it's only when the action goes back to the Alphane moon, where Chuck's wife is headed to 'help' the clans, does it get interesting again. Anyone coming to Dick's weird SF for the first time might wonder what all the fuss is about, but for fans it's an entertaining romp!
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on 27 June 2015
Although Philip K. Dick spent almost all his career in the SF ghetto, he was one of the finest post-war American writers. His ability to spit out mind-blowing SF ideas like a demented Roman candle put food on his table, but he had much, much more to offer. His greatest masterpiece was Martian Time-Slip, closely followed by Now Wait for Last Year; Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Counter-Clock World; A Maze of Death; Ubik; The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch; Dr Bloodmoney: the list goes on. Clans of the Alphane Moon is a worthy member of that list, and has the added advantage of being (perhaps) the best of PKD's novels to be your first PKD novel. It is gripping, bleak, frightening in places, and very, very funny - a unique combination, but typical of this wonderful writer. Not the least of the charms of Clans is that it contains one of the all-time great characters in the history of SF - Lord Running Clam. Don't miss him. You will never forget him.
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on 29 August 2013
This book had rather interesting things to say about mental illness. How labels are applied, how functioning is assessed, how society works, and how we don't really know ourselves at all. It was all wrapped up in a science fiction setting, with rather fantastic telepathic slime molds living in slums. There were plots and counter plots but really it seemed to be about how we viewed ourselves and our relationships with other people. It felt like one of most realistic endings to a Philip K Dick novel that I've read.
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