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Radio Free Albemuth

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  3,588 ratings  ·  155 reviews
In Radio Free Albemuth, his last novel, Philip K. Dick morphed and recombined themes that had informed his fiction from A Scanner Darkly to VALIS and produced a wild, impassioned work that reads like a visionary alternate history of the United States. Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published April 14th 1998 by Vintage (first published 1985)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lyn
There are many talented writers who could tell the story of an America that had been surreptitiously taken over internally by a power mad fascist who closely resembled Richard Nixon. It takes a genius of Philip K. Dick’s stature to tell the same story while also maintaining sub-plots involving alien telepathic transmissions, erudite references to God and the Bible, alternate realities, mental illness, drug use, schizophrenic delusions and enough conspiracy theories to choke a wub.

This, in a nut
...more
Hadrian
Technically, Radio Free Albemuth was PKD's last published novel. But instead it reads like a different version of the sprawling gnostic treatise of paranoia and salvation that was VALIS.

The two protagonists are Philip K. Dick himself, and not-Philip K. Dick, who is a cipher for the author's own experiences, and the visions of 2-3-74. Again we see the motif of the 'twinless twin'.

The plot is steeped in the conspiracy and fear and despair which characterized the mid-to-late 1970s, and the preside
...more
S.D. Johnson
Those who already know Dick will find familiar themes in this novel... We have a U.S.A. set in an alternate history with a fascist dictator fighting an elusive organization called Aramchek. Although published posthumously the novel was actually started before the other Valis works and was the first to introduce the concept of Valis (vast active living intelligent system), a kind of divine and benevolent entity overseeing the universe who many people would simply refer to as God. The usual Dick o ...more
Nikki
I think I've only read one Philip K. Dick book before, and that was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and I didn't really get on with that. I wonder now if that was due to different interests at the time, not settling down with it enough... because I did enjoy Radio Free Albemuth, and it's making me want to try going back to Do Androids Dream and to some of Dick's other work, and have another try.

It's a smooth read, confidently written, and easy to follow -- which as I recall, was my problem
...more
Michael
Jan 11, 2015 Michael rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: PKD fans, Gnostics, UFOlogists
I believe this was the first book I ever read by Phlip K. Dick. It wasn't published during his lifetime, although he used themes from it in his book VALIS and its sequels. Basically, it is set in a world slightly ahead of the time it was written, in which totalitarianism has begun to take hold in America through President Ferris Fremont and his “FAP” (“Friends of the American People”) movement. In the midst of this, an obscure record clerk in Berkeley starts getting messages from space, which ro ...more
T4ncr3d1
“Come non pensare al normale corso dell’esistenza umana, dell’uomo lasciato a se stesso? Destinato a percorrere la sua traiettoria circolare, come una massa di materia inerte orbitante attorno a un sole morto, inutile e indifferente, sorda all’universo, cieca e fredda. Refrattaria a qualsiasi nuova idea. Tagliata fuori per sempre dall’originalità. C’era da fermarsi e riflettere".

Nel febbraio e marzo 1974 Dick andò incontro a una serie di esperienze mistico-religiose, forse in parte indotte da un
...more
Chris
This might be an impossible statement, but I think this was the weirdest K Dick I've read. Not that it was weirder, per se, but it was weird in a way I wasn't expecting from Dick -- its paranoid alternative reality dystopia (expected) meets New-Age Christianity (not expected).

I liked that most of the book was narrated by "Philip K. Dick," a science-fiction author well-known for such books as Flow My Tears, Said the Policeman, and The Man in the High Tower. The middle section, narrated by "Phil's
...more
Michael
Nixon-era paranoid schizophrenia as only PKD can do it. Parts of it made me laugh out loud, which is unusual for his books. You might find it interesting to contrast this with VALIS; however, I've forgotten 99% of VALIS, so I can't say any more than that.
Phil
This is only the second book of PKD's that I've read (and the first was quite a long time ago - the oft-suggested (perhaps because it's a critically-acceptable dystopian future novel rather than a sci-fi book) "Man in the High Castle").

It's perhaps an odd choice, after all it was published posthumously after too many rewrites were demanded by his publishers; it involves a hell of a lot of autobiographical history, including a science fiction writer called Phil Dick; it's a fictional retelling of
...more
Mike Philbin
Aug 26, 2008 Mike Philbin rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: escapist fiction, alternative worlds, conspiracy theory
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lauren
Philip K. Dick is one of the great science-fictional minds of the 20th century. I don't think I need to defend this statement. This book, however, is not one of his most popular. Dick himself is said to have disliked the book, at least enough that he later gave it a more-polished rewrite and published it again as VALIS (for all intents and purposes, a completely distinct work). I, however, loved it.

The book does get a bit "meta," though not quite as much as VALIS, what with the author entering i
...more
Michael Hall
A difficult and somewhat tedious reading experience, but one hell of strange story. In "Radio Free Abelmuth" Philip K. Dick mixes social and political paranoia, religious mania, alien invasion, and mind control all amidst the typical Philip K. Dick questioning of identity. However, the lines between these subjects are blurred to such an extent that you cannot tell the difference between them! The beginning and the very end are narrated by the character Philip (the author himself) in an almost au ...more
Brian
Radio Free Albemuth is Dick's last sci-fi novel (found in his papers post-mortem willed to a friend) and apparently part of the Valis trilogy. I haven't read any of the other books in that series (Valis, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) so I can't say how it holds up to that. Instead I can simply talk about this book.

I really enjoyed this book, let's start there. Having Phil Dick be in the story itself was very creative, even if it was another alternate universe (The Ma
...more
Onefinemess
Published after Dick’s death, I found this a nice kind of endcap for his career. The manuscript for what became RFA was in possession of one of Dick’s friends (Tim Powers I think) and then published after his death for whatever reason. It tailed in nicely what he had been doing with the Valis semi-trilogy: Valis, The Divine Invasion & The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. The bond was most prevalent btw RFA & Valis, in many ways they are the same book, definitely similar situations are ...more
Scott Holstad
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Olethros
-Muy Dick; hasta demasiado Dick para ser Dick.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Un empleado de una tienda de discos, un escritor de ciencia-ficción y un presidente de Estados Unidos de América viven en un país casi dictatorial en el que las ideas contrarias al régimen se pagan muy caras y donde una entidad sobrenatural manda mensajes subversivos a ciertas personas. Versión inicial y diferente de lo que luego fue “Sivainvi” (o “Valis”, según en qué idioma se haya leído), cuyo manuscri
...more
Aleix Dorca
I would say that this book is a 'demo' of what VALIS would become. They are quite similar but also vastly different. This one, for example, has a 'real' macabre history behind it, while VALIS is more of a Philosophical (with a capital P) book.

All in all I enjoyed VALIS way more, just because I like books about Ideas. This one has most of what VALIS talked about but in a different perspective. Quite enjoyable anyway.

Also, let's face it, Philip K. Dick was a beast (specially) at the end of his car
...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
"Cosa si trova in Radio Libera Albemuth? Innanzitutto, una straordinaria ricostruzione delle esperienze di vita del suo autore, qui clamorosamente e definitivamente sdoppiato in due protagonisti complementari: lo scrittore Phil Dick, razionale, a tratti cinico, per lo più diffidente e indifferente (tentativo finalmente compiuto di Dick di separarsi da "se stesso", estrapolarsi come narratore puro) e il fittizio Nicholas Brady, personaggio di se stesso, per così dire, invasato idealista contattat ...more
Robert
Oct 13, 2013 Robert added it
Shelves: scifi
This novel was published posthumously, set from a completed and corrected manuscript that Dick left to a friend. It contrasts starkly with the completely niave prose of Dick's early work, the author being so technically assured as to even change narrators in mid sentence...twice.

THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY

See the complete review here:

http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/33...
Cheryl
I feel like I must've missed something - but my friend read it too and didn't get anything out of it either. Otoh, it's Dick - so if you're a fan of his work ya gotta check it out, eh?
David
One of the weaknesses of PKD is the disconnect between exposition and narrative. There were large sections given over to theology, paranoia, psychopathologies, fringe science, eschatology, and political science; none of these were adequately woven into the narrative. Moving from exposition to narrative was abrupt and dislocating.

There were other weaknesses with this mostly interesting book. Notably, dialogue -- the characters seemed not quite believable because of their flat dialogue.

Nonethele
...more
Mike
Although not officially categorized as part of the Valis "trilogy," Radio Free Albemuth is clearly a companion to Valis.
Published after his death, this was Philip K. Dick's first attempt at novelizing his strange experiences of February and March 1974.

Radio Free Albemuth hits many of the same notes as Valis, but is a more straightforward and polished narrative. Where Valis is trippy and disjointed, Albemuth is a politcal dystopian novel, similar to A Scanner Darkly. I would go so far as to call
...more
Matthew
I am a big Phillip K. Dick fanatic, but this is just no good. It is interesting only in the fact that it is a strange combination of autobiography and fiction. Both of the main characters are Phillip K. Dick. If you have read about Dick's Exegesis and the events that he says began occurring to him starting in 1974, then you will be familiar with the episodes the main character describes. Dick uses himself as a secondary character, at first providing a voice of skepticism to the events, but later ...more
John
Radio Free Albemuth was written by Dick before his VALIS series, and was a testing ground for several of his philosophical ideas, but wasn't published until after his death. In VALIS, the characters go and watch a movie which is essentially the plot to the unpublished (at the time) Radio Free Albemuth. The novel at times is much more entertaining than VALIS, but it still feels trapped within the constraints of the sci-fi genre, which VALIS completely shatters.

The plot consists of one of Dick's f
...more
Glenn Schmelzle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scott A. Nicholson
PKD's last book and, while maybe not his best, certainly a good one; the first and third parts told from the perspective of a science fiction writer named Phil (himself down to even the details of his past books), the second part from, I believe, a fictional character named Nicholas. Nicholas begins to have religious experiences which he feels cannot be categorized under existing religions, but instead interprets them as a communication with an otherworldly entity he calls Valis. With the help o ...more
Gerald Kinro
A unique book where the author is one of the characters. It is of two California men, Nicholas Brady, a record store clerk in Berkely and later a record company executive in Southern California; and Philip Dick, a science fiction writer. Ferris F. Fremont has become President of the United States, not through substance, but through literally killing his way to the top. Under Fremont, the country slips into an autocracy. Dissidents are spied upon, thrown into prison, or sometimes killed. Nicholas ...more
Gareth
PKD's last novels are an obsessive reworking of a single theme: the idea that some supernatural/extra-terrestrial intelligence was trying to communicate with humanity in order to free it from an oppressive, satanic force. This in turn was based on experiences which Dick himself had undergone late in life, and the last books (VALIS, The Divine Invasion, etc) are an attempt to analyse and understand what they might mean. Delusory, drug-induced, paranoid fantasies? Religious revelation? Extra-terre ...more
Alan
I believe this book is Dick's exploration of his own struggle with paranoid delusions. We see the main character struggling with whether or not the messages from what he thinks is an alien satellite are real or not. We see his relief at finding people who will accept him even though he has these crazy experiences. I get the sense that a lot of scenes are from Dick's actual life -- actual delusional experiences, and also the painful experience of having the people around him react to his reports ...more
TrumanCoyote
The first one of his I ever read. Have always liked how that shift of voices (from Phil to Nicholas) works. But there's not much story--and the resemblance of the villain to Richard Nixon seems a bit silly. And then of course there's the occasional descent into nerdy A/V squad voice: "She was good enough, despite what she said, to own and play a Gibson, the most expensive--and professional--acoustic guitar in the business." As with its cousin Valis, the first half better than the second. And bes ...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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