Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Penultimate Truth” as Want to Read:
The Penultimate Truth
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Penultimate Truth

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,808 ratings  ·  187 reviews
THE LONGEST LIE

World War III is raging - or so the millions of people crammed in their underground tanks believe. For fiteen years, subterranean humanity has been fed on daily broadcasts of a never-ending nuclear destruction, sustained by a belief in the all powerful Protector.

But up on Earth's surface, a different kind of reality reigns. East and West are at peace. Acro

...more
Mass Market Paperback, 207 pages
Published November 23rd 1978 by Triad/Panther Books (first published 1964)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Penultimate Truth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Penultimate Truth

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ben Loory
if they were to teach pkd in school, this is probably the one they'd pick, cuz it's dreary and realistic and blatantly political and they'd get to use the word "dystopian" which means it has literary value. this is sci-fi the way normal people write it, where everything makes sense and "valuable human truths" are discovered... is that what you're looking for in your philip k. dick? if so, help yourself... personally, i'll be sticking with UBIK and THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, where the ...more
Derek
There's something loose and floppy about PKD's writing that makes it off-kilter and unbalancing to read. Within the first paragraph you feel that the rug is already rippling underneath you, ready to be yanked out without warning.

(view spoiler)
...more
Kate Sherrod
Holy Mother Lug Nuts, how did this one escape my notice for so long? And I such a Dickhead that I've even enjoyed Clans of the Alphane Moon? But so it goes: of the handful of Philip K. Dick novels that are/were still on the eternal to-be-read pile, The Penultimate Truth was one for a long, long time. I guess this was partly because I'd assumed I'd read all of his A material and most of his B and all that was left was, well, not either of these.

Shows what I know. Thank goodness for my pal EssJay
...more
Erich Franz Guzmann

Another fantastic book by Philip K. Dick, but then again he is my favorite author so I might be a little biased. This book however didn't have as much of the "mind-blowing" aspects to it as some of his other books. None the less it was a great read. It still had a somewhat "Dickian" storyline, however, just not that wow factor I was talking about. If it had a little more of that than the book would have been easily a 5 star book, but instead I am going with 4. Another reason is because I wish it
...more
Chloe
May 16, 2009 Chloe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 12 Monkeys or The Island
A thunderous return back to the frenzied paranoia of Philip K. Dick. This is a toss-off novella that takes little time at all to read, but which bears all the hallmarks of Dick's style: tyrannical governmental entities perpetrating vast lies upon the public, misanthropic moralizing and just enough time travel and other-wordly madness to make sure that the reader is never quite sure whether the book is actually occurring or just another figment of Dick's endless paranoid mindfuck.

This time the st
...more
Kate
This book does not have one of PKD's most inspired beginnings, but if you can slog through the first chapter and learn the vocabulary of the world, the story really takes off. I found it engrossing and terrifying - this is something I could see happening. It really raises the question of belief for me: what do you believe? why do you believe? who do you believe? Politics, as most other things in life, really boils down to trust. And what PKD is saying, I think, is that you can't trust anyone. Ev ...more
Sandy
Philip K. Dick's 11th sci-fi novel, "The Penultimate Truth," was originally released in 1964 as a Belmont paperback (no. 92-603, for all you collectors out there) with a staggering cover price of...50 cents. Written during one of Dick's most furiously prolific periods, it was the first of four novels that he saw published that year alone! One of his more cynical depictions of a duplicitous U.S. government, the story involves yet another one of the author's post-atomic holocaust futures. Here, it ...more
Joe
Nobody does dystopia like PKD.

We start the book in underground warrens where the population has been living since the start of the war, which still rages up on the surface after 15 years. We know exactly what to expect from about page two; we're going to get a book full of underground crises with a huge plot twist at the end when it turns out the war's been over for years.

Except this is PKD, so we find out the war's been over in chapter 2; up above (where the rest of the book takes place), there
...more
Pasha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Scott
The Penultimate Truth is a classic early (pre-1970s) Philip K. Dick: a dystopian novel that combines sci-fi (the society of the 2020s, after a devastating World War III, lives either underground or helped by a vast number of robots), thriller (two powerful characters caught in a political fight, while a third is looming, unbeknownst to them), and surreal (precogs, time-travel).

Overall, this PKD book is intriguing and characteristically fast-paced, but less polished than his later or better-know
...more
Scott Holstad
This is another dystopian, post-atomic war world Dick writes about and he does so pretty well and in a fairly (and surprisingly) linear fashion. During the war, most of humanity was forced underground to live in "ant tanks," self contained living units with their own presidents, etc. The year is 2025 and everyone has been living underground for 15 years, nightly watching news bulletins about the horrible war taking place on the surface of the earth. They spend their time creating robots called " ...more
Totoptero Bastidas
Hay momentos que nos cambian la vida. A veces no los notamos. Tengo la suerte de tener absolutamente claro uno de ellos, creo, el más importante. Tenía nueve años y me recomendaron una película. La alquilé en Beta y (sólo, los demás se fueron por aburrimiento) la vi. Me impresionó tanto que, por primera vez, esperé los créditos y anoté el nombre del libro y el autor en quien la habían basado. La película: Blade Runner. El Libro: ¿Sueñan los androides con ovejas eléctricas? El autor: Philip K. Di ...more
This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For
With World War III under way, most of mankind is driven into underground bunkers to hide from the effects of nuclear and biological weapons. After fifteen years, things are getting desperate. But what most of humanity doesn't know is that the war ended thirteen years earlier—Earth has become a large playground for the elite few still living on the surface, whose primary job is to try to keep the bulk of humanity satisfied in their underground bunkers.

The Penultimate Truth captures many of the th
...more
Sasluu
Sci-fi and hyperbole (or sci-fi as hyperbole) as a pretext or a means or a medium for the indictment of State power and politics at its best, as is usually the case with Philip Dick. I think there's two sides to his fiction --here I mean his really good fiction (of the stuff I have read: this novel, The Man in the High Castle, Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, The Crack in Space, some of the short stories, among them Minority Report). On the one hand there are his brave and transparent attacks on the poli ...more
Crazyjamie
This is the second novel that I have read by Philip Dick. My criticism of the first (The Man In The High Castle) was essentially that there was a distinct lack of a coherent plot. However, despite the writing style being somewhat unusual, I did manage to read through it without too much difficulty.

The problem I found with The Penultimate Truth is essentially the reverse of my thoughts relating to The Man In The High Castle. In other words, there is no doubt that there is a well defined and thou
...more
Jim
Aug 31, 2007 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is running out of dystopian novels to read.
Shelves: read-sci-fi
Having read quite a few books by Philip K Dick – more than I have listed on this site so far – I knew pretty much what to expect from a novel written in this frenzied period of activity in the sixties (he published another three novels in the same year, 1964) and I wasn’t disappointed. The premise is an excellent one and I was a little bothered that the back cover gave it away but it comes to the surface – literally and metaphorically – very early on in the book.

The tempting thing for some reade
...more
Morgan
Really interesting to see that this, The Zap Gun, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch were all written (or at least conceived) in the same year (along with Clans of the Alphane Moon, which I read before this). Granted, yes, the whole thing fits together like several different jigsaw puzzles all squished into one big picture, but then again, most of his novels are like that. And (at least as far as I'm concerned) it's that writing quality that the afterword compared to "downhill racing" (ju ...more
Sonny
Now this story simply flies apart at the seams...But, still, it is completely understandable! How, I just do not know. Dick gives us a creepy, funny look at a war-weary world where humanity is forced to serve -someone- on the surface of the world. Again, I cannot give too much away, so I will end with story lines right there. Many critics have torn this one book apart with its rampant plot fraying, but the images that are introduced can be found in other, later, stories and film. You read this a ...more
Tricia McKean
I think why I ending up deciding on 2 stars instead of 3 or 4 is because I saw it for all of it's potential that it didn't live up to. It's never a good sign when you're reading a sci-fi and you're so enthralled that you're thinking up great, clever plot twists and waiting on the edge of your seat for deeper explanations to come about time travel, or the hoax, etc... that never come to fruition. So yes, I was disappointed in the end because I felt like my own imagination was more exciting than w ...more
Philipp
This must be my least favorite PKD novel - he shines best in craziness, in distrust of one's mind and perception of the world, when reality is moved just a tiny little bit to the side (the German word for crazy, "verrückt", literally means "a little bit moved to the side", like a piece of furniture).

This one's a bit of a more "conservative" SF novel born out of the Cold War, we have most of mankind living underground after World War 3, (minor spoiler which is revealed in the second chapter or so
...more
Sandra
Omg omg omg. I liked this better than Do Androids Dream etc, I think.

Questions to ponder over before I forget:
What do I make of Joe Adams? Someone who had some semblance of scruples but lacked the courage to go against the status quo, because his current, comfortable life depended on it. Yet when he was presented an opportunity to kill Brose, he ran away. Was he an act of cowardice? He knew then, that Lantano was the one responsible for the murders, but he didn't know the extent of Lantano's evi
...more
Corwin
This one is pretty convoluted even for Philip K. Dick. Well, it's actually convoluted in a sustained way on multiple levels, which in my experience usually results in a disconcerting muddle with this guy, in which not everything is quite adequately tied together at the end. It was kind of muddled, actually, until the very end ... but, regardless, this is perhaps the most entertainingly grandiose Conspiracy of Lurking Powers I've read of his, also perhaps the most coherent one. Sure, as in all of ...more
Laura
I think I just didn't get it. The world building was confusing and illogical and I have no idea what happened in the end. There was far too much buildup and not enough time explaining and resolving, which was also my problem with the only other PKD book I've read.

A lot of what went on didn't make sense. We could have used a little more info on the state of the world and the motives of those living above ground.

SPOILERS BELOW



I also have literally NO idea how Lantano was 600 years old. Even if he
...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
As with most books by Dick, somewhat rough around the edges and, though not mind blowing, a pleasant read.
Dick deploys the familiar theme of a future society where those in power control society by telling the world continuous lies. Earth's population consists of the elite, living above ground in huge estates, supported by plebeians, living below ground, in the assumption that a vast global war has is ravishing the earth's surface.

Obviously, though glossing over it, Dick describes an elitist soc
...more
Kilburn Adam
This book failed to fulfill my expectations. I hoped it would be better but it wasn't. I'd say it was about as good as Confessions of a Crap Artist, which wasn't very good.
Chris
After reading a bunch of PKD short stories before, it was enlightening to finally read one of his novels. There are few better "Ideas men" than PKD... A term he coined in this book by the way. His stories pose some of science fictions best "what if" scenarios, and that's probably why Hollywood is currently in love with him (Blade Runner, Adjustment Bureau, Next, Screamers, A Scanner Darkly, Paycheck, Minority Report And Total Recall are only half the movies made from his stories). Having said th ...more
Steve Wasling
I enjoyed the core idea of this story, that of the surviving masses of the human race sheltering in their bunkers from world war 3, unaware that war has been over for about 10 years. The truth has been kept from them by the few living up top who maintain control with faked broadcasts, unwilling to share their relatively untouched world which they rule like feudal lords.

The various political maneuvers between the characters are enjoyable to read about, as are the discussions on how control is mai
...more
Simon
Great story that builds to a gripping climax and keeps you guessing right until the end.
Joe Callingham
This novel of Philip K. Dick's is reflective of the general current suffusing the sci-fi genre of the 1950s and 1960s. In this text you will find all the stereotypical sci-fi staples expected from such an era - men with laser guns, artificial hearts, mutants with precognitive abilities and time travel. However, due to the expertise of Dick, the general themes of the role of propaganda in society, the stratification of society into classes and free will are not lost within the sparkle of so many ...more
Marek
Tę pozycję czytałem z wielkim trudem i chyba muszę na jakiś dłuższy czas odpocząć od twórczości P.K. Dicka. Powieść jest typową post-apokaliptyczną dystopią, w której ludzie więzieni są pod ziemią dla ich własnego dobra. Samo społeczeństwo w zależności od poziomu, na którym mieszka podzielone jest na pewne kasty, mniej i lepiej uprzywilejowanych. W tej książce zabrakło dla mnie typowej niepewności, co jest złudzeniem a co jest prawdziwe, którą Dick roztacza we wszystkich swoich powieściach. Bez ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Complete Roderick
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • Downward to the Earth
  • Dark Benediction
  • Kingdom Come
  • Bring the Jubilee
  • Emphyrio
  • Life During Wartime
  • The Centauri Device
  • How the Dead Live
  • The Child Garden
  • The Rediscovery of Man
  • A Snowball in Hell
  • Non-Stop
  • Mockingbird
  • Jem
  • Chocky
  • Behold the Man
4764
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. He briefly attended the University of California, but dropped out before completing any classes. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memo ...more
More about Philip K. Dick...
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? A Scanner Darkly The Man in the High Castle Ubik Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Share This Book

“if men are too blind to govern themselves, how can they be trusted to govern others?” 2 likes
“What a great burden, the luxury of the way we live. Since no one makes suffer we have elected to volunteer.” 0 likes
More quotes…