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The Broken Bubble

3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  264 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Set in San Francisco in 1956, The Broken Bubble traces the ups and downs and ins and outs of four characters who are not quite sure of the lives they're living. Jim Briskin, local radio DJ, his ex-wife Pat, the young married couple Art and Rachel Emmanual - all are acutely observed and sympathetically portrayed.

Briskin is suspended from his job for refusing to read a parti
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published July 1988 by Arbor House Publishing (first published 1988)
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14th out of 50 books — 9 voters
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REALLY Underrated Books (Fewer than 1,000 Ratings)
495th out of 3,078 books — 1,273 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 549)
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Nov 14, 2014 Joni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pkd
(First reading, 2011) PKD's non-fiction novels were written mostly for theraputic purposes and considered unpublishable at the time of writing (with the exception of Confessions of a Crap Artist). Only after his death when the post-Blade Runner cult following kicked in were these very bleak, very beautiful books made available to the public. This tale of two couples in San Francisco is a drag to read, very depressing, and fans will recognise all of Dick's usual hangups, even characters & plo ...more
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann
This was a very interesting book. I loved part of the book that has a story within this story about questioning reality, god and the purpose of life thrown in there. PKD just couldn’t help himself I think and just had to include that science-fiction story in the book.

I still don’t know what to think about the Thisbe Holt parts in the book, ha. It was crazy and loved it!
Mina Villalobos
May 23, 2010 Mina Villalobos rated it really liked it
PKD's characters have a way of being... not flat, never flat, not exactly, but subdued, I suppose, just, very collected in their knowledge of their ultimate failure, which I find fascinating.

This novel is not horror (at least not in the typical way) and it isn't science fiction. PKD wrote a bunch of novels that were sort of slice of life, and this is truly a slice of trippy, strange life, though I was forced to admit as weird and crazy as the things going on were, we actually lead lives much mo
Jul 19, 2016 Neil rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after reading Martian Time Slip for a couple of reasons. It was in the sci-fi section with Martian Time Slip [Lord knows why, after reading it] and I was in the mood to try reading some of his 'stuff' again. This book was published posthumously, so I can only assume it was to cash in on his 'name' and his fame; overall, it was a lousy book and I can see why it was never published. There was no real plot to the story; it seemed quite aimless as a result, as if the author had a destina ...more
Chris Craddock
May 13, 2016 Chris Craddock rated it it was amazing
Really liked it but the ending kind of petered out. There was a bubble, and the title was broken bubble, so you knew that was going to happen. But who did it happen to happen to? Love the setting of 1950s San Francisco. The character of Jim Briskin was obvious ego projection of Philip Kindred Dick. He works as a DJ at a radio station, and his ex wife Patricia works there, too. She is an alcoholic, and Jim is still in love with her. She is engaged to one of the suits, a sales manager or something ...more
Brandon Sawyer
Dec 23, 2009 Brandon Sawyer rated it it was ok
Reminded me, sadly, that I love Philip K. Dick for the depth of his imagination, not necessarily the style of his writing. Give the man a future dystopia and he'll blow your mind. Give him a slice of then-contemporary social realism, and you'll want to blow your own brains out.
Sam Greenberg
Nov 01, 2011 Sam Greenberg rated it did not like it
Maybe there's some OTHER 'Phil Dick', trying to get his (or her?) books published under PKD's name, without having to write tension or ideas or plot.

I read more than a third of the book before giving up.
Phillip Ramirez
Jul 12, 2016 Phillip Ramirez rated it it was ok
Shelves: pkd-2016
Jun 10, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: mid-life-crazy
If you're looking for a sci-fi/fantasy/alternative history Philip Kindred Dick book this may not be the book for you. If you want to read a 1956 PKD bizarre slice-of-life coming-of-age(realization) story this would be a good read.

This story resembles Radio Free Albemuth on many levels, it touch on music, radio, and a hint of alternate reality. The characters are similar to characters in Time Out Of Joint and Confessions Of A Crap Artist. Largely this is an intersection between two couples of ab
Nov 21, 2013 Mel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The few non-science fiction books I'd read by Philip K Dick I'd found a bit disappointing. The people just seemed a bit too middle class and ordinary. I was wanting the crazy drug people from A scanner darkly. This book didn't have those but it did have some incredibly wonderful and messed up people. Pat I thought was one of the most compelling characters I'd read about. Her ex-husband was always talking about how helpless she was but it was a case of just always making the bad decisions. She dr ...more
Aug 12, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it
So much of the themes PKD developed later in his career show up here, but also this is a strange and weird experience that tries to capture the grotesque contradictions of the 50s in regards to a nascent youth culture in it's sloppiest and earliest first painful steps, as well as the media encroachment of a freakish dehumanizing commerciality, that might strike some readers as quaint maybe. {I wonder how PKD would feel about social media, data collection and the Web?}

Some of the aspects here hit
Jun 06, 2012 Pers rated it did not like it

UGH. Worst PKD book I've read thus far and I've read a lot. It reads like it was lifted from a bad soap opera that needed one more storyline for filler, only in that context, it would have been tolerable since you'd also have 6 other storylines running parallel so you'd only have to deal with the boredom for a few mins at a time. Listening to this straight through was painful and I almost gave up. If I'd been actually reading this in print, I would have but it doesn't take
Jack Stovold
Jun 22, 2012 Jack Stovold rated it really liked it
My Philip K. Dick Project, #12

Well, here is the third of Dick’s mainstream novels to feature people wrecking their lives in the San Francisco bay area. This time the action takes place in San Francisco itself, and when I say action, I do mean it, in a way. More than Voices From The Street or Mary and the Giant, The Broken Bubble is a marriage of Dick’s mainstream prose-style and his sci-fi storytelling. As if alluding to this, Bubble has as a minor character a nerdy president of a sci-fi fan clu
Aug 15, 2011 Daniel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Most people know Philip K. Dick (if they know him at all) as a science fiction author. his stories and books and have been made in to some top sci-fi movies (Blade Runner and Total Recall being two of the more famous). Those who really get in to his work, also know that he wrote a number of non-sci-fi books which have only recently been published. This is one of those non-sci-fi books.

I think it was Phil Dick who once wrote: "The short stoy is about things people do, the novel is about people wh
Aug 01, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
Philip K. Dick will never be known as more than a master Sci-Fi author. For some, that would be enough. But Dick strove to write mainstream novels as well, and for the most part they were quite good. That didn't stop publishers from refusing to publish anything of his that weren't Sci-Fi, so many of his novels sat around collecting dust until after his death, when they were finally released.

The Broken Bubble, one such novel, is set in 1950s San Francisco and seems to foretell the coming change i
Bruno Silva
Apr 14, 2015 Bruno Silva rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Mais um retrato da década de 50, cheio de relações complicadas envolvendo adultos cheios de angst e jovens que não sabem muito bem o que querem. Esta fase do autor com este livro e Mary and the Giant apresentou uma liberdade de escrita sexual, que eu diria que parece muito à frente do seu tempo, A angústia da personagem feminina que se envolve numa relação perdida e desorientada com um jovem de 17 anos é descrita de uma forma intensa e iinebriante. É um retrato apesar de tudo interessante da déc ...more
Dec 25, 2015 KjartanS rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
I listened to this as an audio book. It is one of the rare cases where I just was not able to concentrate on the story. It is extremely rare that this happens to me, and it's the first time with a Dick novel. As I was only able to grasp bits and pieces of information about the plot, I'll end the review here. It was at the time rejected for publication, and only published posthumously. This shows. You will be well advised to avoid this Dick entry.
Feb 21, 2016 C-shaw rated it did not like it
A library book. So far, not so good, though I have enjoyed Philip Dick's writing in the past.
* * * * *
I didn't like this book at all. It was published posthumously, perhaps because Dick wasn't satisfied with the quality. No sci-fi here, just a dumbo story of a young and an old couple with a weird relationship and several characters and events that go nowhere and add nothing to the story.
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Dick couldn't get the book published when he wrote it, the story finally saw a public release after his death.

It's easy to see why it took 30 years for the the book to be published.

The story is competent, just, but really not very interesting. Just meanders, without any clear objective nor any real conclusion. Just not very interesting.
Lady Stardust
Oct 25, 2011 Lady Stardust rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Mais que s'est-il passé dans la tête de Philip K. Dick lorsqu'il a écrit ça?!

Chez cet auteur, c'est particulièrement les romans de SF que l'on connaît. Blade Runner, Total Recall, Substance Mort, etc.
Ici, nous sommes face à un "simple" roman, se situant dans les USA des années 50. Un animateur radio qui a la loose, son ex-femme un peu fragile et aux penchant alcoolique, un jeune couple en situation précaire : voilà la situation initiale à partir de laquelle l'auteur fait tourner son roman.
Jul 02, 2015 Elar rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, not-scifi
Another non SciFi and I already noticed some patterns for Mr Dick fiction. Woman character who is acting against norms and seems to have little bit loose screws. Music industry and records. Used car lots. If literature is involved then it is SciFi.
Oct 19, 2014 Mindy rated it it was ok
As a whole I did not enjoy this book. Its redeeming factor was how well it transported me to 1950s San Francisco. I look forward to reading some science fiction by Dick because I haven't felt his magic with this title.
Mar 10, 2015 Joanna rated it really liked it
Intense look at the messes ordinary people can make of their lives when they are trying to make themselves happy. The 1950s setting (when it was written) is also interesting.
Sep 25, 2016 JManInPhoenix rated it it was ok
Very similar to "Voices from the Street" as it also is set in the mid-1950s SF Bay area. A handful of amoral characters and their victims just ramble through life - no real conclusion to the story either.
Sep 15, 2016 Brendan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PKD has written some supremely weird books, and this may just be one of the weirdest. And it's not even science fiction. Highly idiosyncratic and enjoyable.
Dec 27, 2015 Mike rated it really liked it
Philip K. Dick mined certain parts of his life for material over and over, so if you read a lot of his work, you start to recognize familiar characters and elements. The Broken Bubble has less of that than most. The teenage couple Art and Rachel are probably based on PKD and his first wife (Dick was first married at age 20), but that's a part of his life he didn't refer to much in his other books. The marriage breakup/adultery plot is fairly routine for this type of fiction, but the bizarre subp ...more
Dmitry Verkhoturov
Feb 01, 2015 Dmitry Verkhoturov rated it it was amazing
Лучшая проза Филипа Дика. Очень проработанные характеры персонажей и интересный сюжет - пять из пяти звёзд.
Feb 28, 2015 Teresa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes books that are rejected for publication are lost gems. When the author makes it big, they have the freedom to release their other work, or the estate may decide to publish their works posthumously and we all are enriched.

Other times, books that are rejected for publication are actually terrible. It's perfectly fine to admit that. It doesn't smear the author's name that they wrote a bomb (or twenty) or detract from their moments of genius. We all make mistakes learning our way.

Philip K.
Henry Mahone
Apr 23, 2016 Henry Mahone rated it it was amazing
Like a hamster ball, but for a stripper.
Todd Martin
Jul 13, 2013 Todd Martin rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I like quite of bit of Phillip K. Dick’s writing, but find it to be a hit and miss affair. The Broken Bubble is an unqualified miss. The plot-line ambles, the characters are wooden, and the story plods along in a drab and listless fashion. I can’t imagine what Dick was aiming for with this tale of a love quadrangle.

The book was written in the 1950s, but was rejected for publication at the time (and rightfully so). It was published in posthumously in 1988, I’m assuming in a cynical attempt to cas
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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. 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 Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more
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