Counter-Clock World
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Counter-Clock World

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  2,152 ratings  ·  134 reviews
"Dick is the American writer who in recent years has most influenced non-American poets, novelists, and essayists."--Roberto Bolano
In "Counter-Clock World," time has begun moving backward. People greet each other with "goodbye," blow smoke into cigarettes, and rise from the dead. When one of those rising dead is the famous and powerful prophet Anarch Peak, a number of gr...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by Mariner Books (first published 1967)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick's short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.

Time moves b...more
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Counter-Clock World is weird because of how very NOT weird it is. That probably won't make a whole lot of sense if you're not familiar with a lot of what PKD was cranking out in the 60s. This was during his most prolific period as an author (more than half of his 44 novels were published between 1960-1969), and the majority of those books feature what I'm going to call the Dick Click (for lack of a better term).

You start reading almost any novel by Dick and for the first 50-100 pages you're pret...more
Kat  Hooper
3.5 stars. Originally posted at

It’s 1998 and time has started running backward. Aging has reversed so that people are gradually getting younger, and dead people are awakening in their graves and begging to be let out. The excavating companies have the rights to sell the people they unbury to the highest bidder. When Sebastian Hermes’s small excavating company realizes that Thomas Peak, a famous religious prophet, is about to come back to life, they know that getting to...more
Daniel Reyes
This is one of the strangest stories I have read, set in a world where time has reversed itself and the dead are coming back to life, books are being unwritten, food is no longer ingested but disgorged, and in general, as the title of the book suggests the world has started to move counter-clockwise. The real impact of this story however is in the philosophical and theological issues addressed by the characters, and the profound impact that mass resurrection has had on religious doctrine.

This wasn't bad for a short, quick read. Obviously it wasn't Dick's finest hour, but I do give him props for exploring ideas that no other author at the time even bothered exploring. However, it doesn't seem like his ideas were always well-executed, which was the case with Counter-Clock World. The idea of time reversing itself was what drew me into the book, but it didn't live up to its expectations. It sounded intriguing, yes, but I just felt that Dick didn't take advantage of the potential he...more

Un libro molto diverso dai più noti di Dick.
Escluso ogni elemento fantascientifico, sono comunque presenti alcuni temi cari all’autore, come l’esistenza di molteplici realtà possibili, diversi continuum, la non linearità del tempo, calati in una storia dalle tinte fosche, a volte inquietanti. La capacità evocativa di Dick risulta magistrale anche in generi narrativi diversi dalla fantascienza, così come la sua bravura nel seminare spunti di riflessione molto profondi, talora turbanti.
This is one of those Philip K. Dick novels that has a fascinating premise but is perhaps a little too hard for the author to handle at this developing time in his career. There are some really nice philosophical turns throughout but the concept may be a little too strange and artificial. For anyone else this would be a four star book but Dick has written better.

.ǫninniǫɘd ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫnibnɘ bnɒ bnɘ ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫniƚɿɒƚƨ ,ƨiʜƚ ɘʞil ƚi ɘƚoɿw ɘvɒʜ bluoʜƨ ɘʜ ǫniʞniʜƚ qɘɘʞ I ,noiƚnɘm oƚ ƚoИ

But then, I'm weird.
One of the better Philip K. Dicks, although I don't think it cracks my top five. The setting is very unusual: near future, where people age in reverse so they come alive in their graves and have to be dug out. They then get progressively younger until they become babies and need someone to take care of them. Lots of things happen in reverse, although why is not always explained, such as libraries gradually eliminating books over time, smokers puffing smoke into cigarette butts to make them whole...more
So, this is what classic SF looks like. Sorry, but I can't see why Dick made it so big. His characters are laughably false -- particularly the women. I'd be insulted if it wasn't so ridiculous. As for the plot: almost as laughable. As for the whole idea behind the story: this is worth 2 stars.

Time has reversed, meaning the dead are rising, living their lives over and disappearing into the nearest available womb. When a dead guru begins to stir it seems everyone is interested in his resurrection:...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 2002.

In general, Dick's novels contain a dazzling multiplicity of ideas; but Counter-Clock World is dominated by just one and careful limits are placed on how fully it is explored. It is in many ways (dictated by its theme) similar to Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake. There, people relive a decade of their lives, fully conscious that they have already experienced what they are going through; here, time has suddenly reversed.

Dick doesn't go to the extent of r...more
Patrick Nichols
Phillip K. Dick must be the Forrest Gump of running with a premise. In this perplexing muddle, the flow of time has reversed and the dead are coming back to life. Well, sort of. Sebastian Hermes' job is to loiter around cemeteries and disinterestedly disinter the recently undeceased. Apparently this entails a lot of paperwork; and PKD is fairly relentless in detailing the economics of undeath. The time reversal aspect is more of an afterthought; aside from the fact that everyone is getting young...more
Scott Holstad
This is a three star book I'm giving four stars to because of its originality. Dick is an author unlike any other. He can definitely come up with some unique stuff. This isn't Dick's best book, but it's not bad. The premise is interesting. Due to the mysterious Hobart Phase, everything on Earth is moving backwards now, as of the 1980s (this world is in the late 1990s). Dead people wake up and are unearthed by companies who sell them to the highest bidder. The fact that relatives never seem to bi...more
Actually kind of a crappy story, but the idea is fantastic: a world in which time is moving backwards. People begin their lives buried in cemeteries and have to be dug up before they suffocate. They regurgitate their food and put it back in the refrigerator. Before they get into bed every morning, they use a razor which puts stubble on their faces and legs. People get younger and younger and eventually turn into babies and crawl into their mothers. Nine months later (or earlier) their mothers ha...more
Yet another PKD novel which, despite the fact that his strange universe makes little logical sense and fails to obey its own rules, still captivates you to the point where you simply do not care about any of that: it simply becomes another way for the characters to question their own sense of reality, of existence, and what they want. In that sense it kept me intrigued from page one, and continued to do so all the way through to the (unusually sad for PKD) ending. Any complaints against the nove...more
Darran Mclaughlin
Philip K. Dick gets a lot of respect from writers and critics from both inside and outside the Science Fiction establishment. This is the fourth book by him I have read and I am still astonished by what a bad writer he is. He has interesting ideas, and The Man In The High Castle was a good novel, but his prose is Dan Brown bad and his characterization is less subtle and three dimensional than The Bold And The Beautiful, or any bad soap opera you care to mention. I have enjoyed the film adaptatio...more
Ed Erwin
For Dick fans only.

Like even the best of Dick, this has leaden dialogue and flat characters.

Like even the worst of Dick, this has interesting ideas, plot twists and reversals, and puts characters in interesting situations.

The central principle, that the dead come back and age backwards -- disgorging food instead of eating it, un-smoking cigarettes, etc., -- is preposterous. But it does lead to some interesting new insults, such as mouth-hole!

If you are already a fan of Dick, there is no reason y...more
Really low 3 - I contemplated giving it a 2. I mean, time starts running backwards so the dead are reborn and you have to eat through your colon and puke up food? Is he in 6th grade?

Also, it's mostly chase scenes and spy counter-spy stuff. It is interlaced with theological tracts, which you might think would be my way in, but it's pretty unremarkable theology. What saves the book is the protagonist, who is so very human.
Sort of reminded me of The Simulacra, though it's been too long since I've read that one to be able to say why it reminded me of it. Some really great theological/philosophical debates, though.

Plus: Hobart Phase. How much of a genius do you have to be to think that up? Awesome.

But poor Joe Tinbane! Why did he have to die!
Something about a post-apocalyptic world where time goes backwards. People are born from graves and die in the womb. They greet each other with "Goodbye" and end conversations saying "Hello."


Features things like LSD grenades and time acceleration serum. Lots of timey wimey wibbly wobbly oddness. I can't say it's my favorite by PKD, but it's definitely a good read. I'm a huge fan of all of the St. Augustine and Erigena he quotes. It's amazing how obsessed this guy was with spirituality --...more
Mad Dog
Jan 22, 2010 Mad Dog rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Philip K Dick fans
Shelves: pkd
Easy read that is not very time consuming. OK, most of the book is an easy read. Some of the philosophical/religious parts are hard for me to follow. I am a Dick fan that is probably missing the finer points of what he is trying to convey. I think he is telling us that we operate on a lot of false perceptions (like Hermes thinking he hates Ann Fisher when he really loves her and he is scared of his feelings for her). I think he is trying to appeal to us that we are all alike (Anarch Peak stating...more
Every Philip K. Dick novel I've read has left the nagging feeling of being screwed around with at some level. The book is some kind of drug trip, or its plot and premise got inside my head, or that I'm on the outside of some elaborate joke. Most of the time I can't tell which.

The premise of the Hobart Phase--time running backward--is so jaw-droppingly preposterous that one must applaud, especially the way that it is presented. The characters' behavior runs forward, but their biology (particularl...more
David Shaw
Right from the get-go, this book snags your attention and doesn't let go.

However, in addition to the artistic merits of the novel itself, it is the typical mastery of Philip K. Dick again on his mark. In this case, it is his way of drawing you into this world he has created without giving you much detail to understand the whole scenario. Only giving enough information to make you want to put the pieces together, or rather to figure out what direction he is taking you.

In 'Counter-Clock World', yo...more
Garrett Zecker
The master of more-than-meets-the-eye pulp takes on time, relationships, and existence in this well-crafted futuristic hymn to death, religion, and the nature of love. One of his shorter dime-length pieces, Counterclock is an ethereal masterpiece that shows time in reverse, dirty plated being filled with food and the dead rising from their graves to be reborn and remember the lives they lived previously. When vitariums and the government compete over profits and the high-profile resurrection of...more

I first read this when I was in my late teens or early twenties -- about the right age to most enjoy Philip K. Dick, in other words -- and, perhaps surprisingly, found it a great disappointment after works like The Man in the High Castle. When I picked it up to read again recently, as part of a project about time-travel stories that I'm toying with, a sense of deep miasmic gloom pervaded every fibre of my socks, etc. But this time round the surprise was in the other direction: I really quite enj...more
A very interesting book with a creepy ending. Sometime in the 1980s time had started going backwards on Earth (Mars was still ok) so dead people were coming back from the dead and ageing backwards (while people who hadn't died also started ageing backwards). The premise was odd, and probably because of Red Dwarf, a bit silly in places. But nonetheless it was an interesting story. I think my favourite idea was the evil library that was intent on destroying all information, eradicating knowledge f...more
SUMMARY: In Counter-Clock World, one of the most theologically probing of all of Dick’s books, the world has entered the Hobart Phase–a vast sidereal process in which time moves in reverse. As a result, libraries are busy eradicating books, copulation signifies the end of pregnancy, people greet with, “Good-bye,” and part with, “Hello,” and underneath the world’s tombstones, the dead are coming back to life. One imminent old-born is Anarch Peak, a vibrant religious leader whose followers continu...more
It's been a while since I've read any PKD, so I was way overdue for a dose of his usual crazy. This one comes with an extra helping of surreality! It's the future (i.e. the year 1998 -- Dick didn't really leave himself much room with this one) and for reasons no one is really sure about, time has begun moving backward. It's a phenomenon known as the Hobart Phase, named after the guy who predicted it, who of course everyone assumed was a lunatic until it actually happened. Now people don't eat, t...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
This is the first Philip K. Dick novel I have read in seven months, and I have to say -- it felt like coming home.

The Dickian weirdness begins on page one. A policeman patrolling a rundown cemetery hears a familiar sound. A recently revived corpse calls out from her grave, "My name is Mrs. Tilly M. Benton, and I want to get out. Can anyone hear me?"

Dick published Counter Clock World in 1968 and set it in the near future of 1998. But in this world, the Hobart Phase has been operating since 1986....more
I am a sucker for wacky, non-linear time shifts, and this novel did not disappoint, despite some weaknesses. The story starts with Mrs. Tilly M. Benton, crying out from the grave. She has just woken from death, and is eventually disinterred by Sebastian Hermes and his crew from the Flask of Hermes Vitarium, a business that rescues newly reborn corpses and sells them to relatives and other interested parties. This whole scenario is made possible by a freak of nature, which has caused time to reve...more
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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
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“…we all lie to ourselves; we tell our own selves more lies than we ever do other people.” 46 likes
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