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Galactic Pot-Healer

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  3,140 Ratings  ·  190 Reviews
The Glimmung wants Joe Fernwright. Fernwright is a pot-healer - a repairer of ceramics - in a drably utilitarian future where such skills have little value. The Glimmung is a being that looks something like a gyroscope, something like a teenaged girl, and something like the contents of an ocean. What's more, it may be divine. And, like certain gods of old Earth, it has a b ...more
Paperback, 177 pages
Published June 1994 by Random House Vintage Books (first published 1969)
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Most Under-rated Science Fiction
105th out of 1,156 books — 1,417 voters
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Best of Philip K. Dick
26th out of 54 books — 330 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 29, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it

Philip K. Dick’s writing makes me smile. He’s like a weird, unorthodox friend who has a loud, goofy laugh that you cannot help joining in laughing yourself.

One of the most endearing themes of Phil’s work is his propensity to cast as protagonist an ordinary guy or gal. Small appliance repairman seems to be the occupation of modal frequency, but Galactic Pot Healer joins The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as a novel that features a ceramicist as the hero. A pot healer is one who rep
Mar 22, 2016 Darwin8u rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
“No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.”
― Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer


The idea of this book at first reminded me of the concept of Kintsukuroi (金繕い or golden repair). Kintsukuroi, essentially, is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. I was first exposed to this idea and unique art form years ago when I was reading about Wabi-Sabi. I have
Jan 16, 2008 Jlawrence rated it it was amazing
PKD books are never filled with sunshine and bunnies, but this one has one of the most depressing beginnings of any I've read so far. The protagonist is stuck in a meaningless bureaucratic job in a stagnant and oppressive uber-socialist future USA, and his only enjoyment (which has become a hollow enjoyment) is the playing of "The Game" with other bored cube-rats in other countries ("The Game", amusingly enough, involves feeding a computer translation of English into a another language back into ...more
May 12, 2014 Jason rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Die-hard PKD fans
Recommended to Jason by: Total Dick-Head (
Observe the success of Glimmung's aspirations. Emulate him, who in his Undertaking fought and destroyed the Book of the Kalends and thus the tyrannic rule of fate itself. Be creative. Work against fate. Try. (176)

Maybe that quote from the end sums up the novel, maybe not. Sometimes I think PKD's vision of each novel unfolded as he banged away at the typewriter for 36 hours straight, which is why so many loose ends simply drift off rather than get tied up. I'm coming to the conclusion that PKD in
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann
As with all of the PKD books that I have read, there always seems to be underlying messages. The protagonist is Joe Fernwright and he is a pot healer that lives in a time on earth when ceramics are no longer used and is replaced by plastic. He passes his time by playing a meaningless word game with his co-workers in a struggling economy and that is something I can relate to.

The meaning of life is one of the underlying messages that stood out to me the most. Joe is contacted by Glimmung a flawed
Kilburn Adam
Oct 15, 2012 Kilburn Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically a giant shape shifting, telepathic blob called Glimmung wants to raise a cathedral from under the sea on Plowman's Planet. And he asks Joe Fernwright who is a pot-healer to help him. This isn't PKD's best book, but it's nowhere near his worst either, and it's pretty short too.
John George
Jan 18, 2016 John George rated it did not like it
I love P.K. Dick, but this book was just absolutely ridiculous. Maybe I read it wrong, or read it half asleep or something, but it made not one lick of sense to me
Jun 02, 2016 Chris rated it really liked it
Now that was a bizarre read.

There are so many persistent themes in Dick that I really enjoy... and a few that I don't:
-His fascination with decay and the destruction of form has taken so many different shapes in his novels. There seems to be a personal obsession with death, particularly suicide, embodied in many of his characters.
-He approached failure in a peculiar way - it seemed something of an expectation for him, and he makes it in to an entertaining spectacle in so many novels. In fact, hi
Apr 21, 2015 Cici rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read-books
In this three-worded title, we can sense the irony of a puny life. In the unmeasurable vastness, our life is a joke, our work a smaller one. Fatalistic nihilism seem to be the only decent attitude. What is the point? One may ask. Or better: what is your punchline?

This is not a lighter nor saner version of Hitchhikers’ Guide to Galaxy. The psychedelic laugher hovers in the margin, but this story is a serious and high-brow one. Several themes intertwines in this brisk tale.

The first is the meani
Mad Dog
Feb 09, 2011 Mad Dog rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: only big PKD fans
This is a PKD book that I think is only for big PKD fans (like me). It is probably my 'least fave' book of PKDs. It is a very 'sci-fi-y' book with weird creatures, a dystopia, and takes place largely on another planet. I would categorize this book as 'sci-fi' and theological fiction. For vastly better theological fiction, I would recommend VALIS by PKD. VALIS combines both personal and theological elements very well (and is at least partially autobiographical fiction from PKD). You could really ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Mjhancock rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
While not one of Dick's better known books (probably for good reason), Galactic Pot-Healer still has some interesting elements that, in combination with its relatively short length, make it worth reading. The plot starts off simply enough; set in the future, Joe Fernwright is a pot-healer from a family of pot-healers, a popular profession after a war in the distant past shattered most of our the world's pottery. The problem is, after generations, most pots are fixed, and he's faced with a deep e ...more
Sep 01, 2011 Sandy rated it really liked it
Philip K. Dick's 24th published sci-fi novel, the whimsically titled "Galactic Pot-Healer," first saw the light of day as a Berkley Medallion paperback in June 1969, with a cover price of 60 cents. It both followed up and preceded two of its author's finest and most beloved works, 1968's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and 1969's "Ubik," and if not in the same rarefied league as those two, remains a fine yet mystifying addition to the Dickian canon nevertheless. In the book, in the dystop ...more
David Anderson
Apr 21, 2015 David Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite of Dick's novels. At times it's funny as hell, an absolute riot. But it's also a mind bender, exploring issues of theology, such as various conceptions of the deity (the Glimmung is a deity I could warm up to, lol), and intertwined issues of philosophy, such as the concepts of fate and determinism and free will. And what a complement of bizarre alien life forms. Reminds me at times of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide (although I suppose it's really the other way around ...more
Roddy Williams
Joe Fernwright is a pot healer - as was his his father before him - in a future totalitarian dystopia although his services are somewhat redundant since no one makes or breaks ceramics any more.
One day Joe gets a mysterious message offering him a job on Sirius V. The message turns out to be from an all powerful entity known as the Glimmung who is launching a project to raise a sunken cathedral from the ocean bed.
Being a Dick novel, things are not as straightforward as this synopsis would imply.
Julie Davis
Mar 23, 2013 Julie Davis rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julie by: Jesse from SFFaudio
Latest Update:
I'm rereading this preparatory to this weekend's discussion with the SFFaudio podcast gang. I have to say the book definitely warrants two readings. The first time through I was rather overcome by the depressing world of Dick's creation. This is leavened somewhat by Dick's use of humor of all kinds, even wrapped in the depressing details of a life micro-managed by the government. However, the second time through, knowing the basic plot and resigned to the depressing world, the humo
Jan 02, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing
I read this again as a nod to the memory of my one-time lover, best friend and confidante, the late Gina Holmes. I turned her onto it back in the mid-70's and it was one thing we discussed in depth. She'd been my friend for the better part of 35 years before passing away 2 years ago at the age of 50.

In retrospect, Dick seems to have looked into a fairly accurate crystal ball. In a "throw-away" society, nobody appreciates good craftsmanship anymore. Joe Fenwright, an itinerant war veteran, is one
Scott Holstad
Oct 21, 2014 Scott Holstad rated it liked it
Not a great book. Definitely not one of PKD's better books. It's about a man named Joe Fernwright, a "pot healer" of increasingly rare ceramic pots in a dystopian future earth who plays computerized games with people all over the world to keep from going batty. (This was written in the '60s.) A giant omniscient alien named Glimmung picks him up, along with possibly thousands of other human and alien "specialists," to go to a distant planet thought to be deserted to raise a cathedral dedicated to ...more
Jun 18, 2016 Bert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What was Dick getting at with this novel? He's throws a lot at it, Faustian philosphy, flawed deities, collective consciousness, art as salvation, but not sure if any of it sticks. It's got this weird comic pulpy tone, and it's batshit crazy, not at all surprised that it was written during what Dick describes as a psychotic breakdown. Good fun though!
Jul 05, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything and everything resists it" - Willis

I really enjoyed this book and while it isn't as tight as some of his other novels it still has plenty for even an average Philip K Dick fan to like! Joe Fernwright and The Glimmung were both very interesting characters and Plowman's Planet was especially intriguing. The portrayal of Earth's society justified Joe's melancholic attitude throughout the nov
Daniel Burton-Rose
Dec 30, 2014 Daniel Burton-Rose rated it did not like it
Solid B-list, extra-canonical Dick. His descriptions of women are always so sour and off; he must have been a real charmer in person!
"El atractivo de Gestarescala se encuentra en cómo esta novela es capaz de sintetizar, quizás mejor que ninguna otra, al Dick explorador existencialista. Su búsqueda de un sentido a la vida, en sus múltiples vías y aspectos, se encuentra reflejada en estas páginas. Pero si ha permanecido relativamente en el olvido, hasta el punto en que la única edición en castellano disponible hasta ahora era de 1975, es porque su representatividad ideológico-filo
Dee Dee
Sep 18, 2015 Dee Dee rated it it was amazing
I hesitate to give five stars to any book, but if I factor in my subjective pleasure of reading this book, there is no way I cannot give it five stars. Were there more, I would grant them.

Galactic Pot-Healer is one of the less mentioned books of Philip K. Dick, and one of his best.

In it we find one of his best dystopian societies, just sketched in a few lines and colors. Readers of dystopian fiction should almost immediately grok the feel for that world and readers naive to dystopian fiction, bu
Meghan Fidler
“Plowman’s Planet, Joe reflected. It rang a bell, although dimly. Absentmindedly, he dialed the encyclopedia’s number.
‘Is Plowman’s Planet—‘ he began, but the artificial voice interrupted him.
‘Not for another twelve hours. Goodbye.’
‘Just one fact?’ he said angrily. ‘I just want to find out if Sirius five and Plowman’s—‘ Click. The robot mechanism had rung off. Bastards, he thought. All robot servo-mechanisms and all computers are bastards.”

While by no means a masterpiece, "Glactic Pot-Heale
Oct 01, 2014 Mathieu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lectures_2013
On est dans un futur proche, les états-unis sont devenus un état policier totalitaire. L'économie est en déroute, les bons fournis par l'état ne valent plus rien une journée après leur émission. L'État s'infiltre même jusque dans les rêves des citoyens, les obligeant à tous faire le même rêve préprogrammé. Joe Fernwright se débrouille pour survivre dans cet univers étouffant. Vétéran d'une guerre qui a eu lieu des années plus tôt, Joe travaille maintenant pour l'état. Quel est son rôle n'est pas ...more
Caitlin James
May 14, 2014 Caitlin James rated it liked it
Before I begin this review I wish to make one thing abundantly clear: I really like Philip K. Dick.


This was very well written, there wasn’t as much of Dick’s usual quirkiness in the writing to make it brilliant on a sentence-to-sentence basis, in the vein of The Minority Report or We Can Remember It For You Wholesale but it flowed and was interesting.

I picked it up in a charity shop purely because it said “Philip K. Dick” on it: I enjoy reading him and thought “why not?” I don’t regret readin
Karl Kindt
Mar 24, 2016 Karl Kindt rated it really liked it
At first I was wary of this novel. It started out like one of the lesser PKD novels, but about halfway through it found its place in the better ones. It meanders without much direction, or obvious direction at first, but eventually PKD pulled it off. His character Joe's story about the spider trapped in the bottom of the teacup, the spider that goes ahead and spins a web in hopes of capturing a fly even though it should know its hopeless--this little moment of time in Joe's life in his past enca ...more
Sep 29, 2016 Stormcrow rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Readers of Galactic Pot Healer should be certain they are either in a very good place in their lives or emotional robots. The reason for this suggestion is GPH [Galactic Pot Healer] is by far the bleakest of PKD’s books/stories.

The books opens in a future American Communist/Socialist dystopia with a man that is barely keeping his head above water [it is a struggle to avoid spoilers here], who is divorced, who’s ex-wife hates him, who has embraced a profound fatalism but lacks the wherewithal to
Antonella Sacco
Jan 01, 2016 Antonella Sacco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il primo commento che mi viene spontaneo è visionario, ma poi mi dico che è superfluo, in quanto più o meno tutti (almeno a mio parere) i romanzi di Dick sono visionari. Comunque questa storia è davvero molto visionaria.
Il protagonista, Joe Fernwright, è un artigiano che ripara vasi di ceramica, ma da alcuni mesi non ha alcun vaso da ricostruire. La società in cui vive è molto opprimente e ogni azione dei cittadini è controllata dallo Stato. Un giorno a Joe viene proposto di recarsi su Sirio Ci
Cristina Pacific
Aug 17, 2015 Cristina Pacific rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, _kindle
Lots of fascinating ideas in this book. Beings wtih an evil counterpart, with the requirement of reciprocal exclusion (unlike the Yin/Yang complementary concept). A (superior) being that can manipulate their material appearance, expanding or condensing it, splitting into different locations. A being that can integrate other beings' consciousness (or other beings in their entirety). A being whose sexual identity fluctuates from monosexuality to bisexuality. The cause/effect dilema (i.e. does the ...more
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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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“No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.” 67 likes
“Death is very close, he thought. When you think in this manner. I can feel it, he decided. How near I am. Nothing is killing me; I have no enemy, no antagonist; I am merely expiring, like a magazine subscription: month by month.” 10 likes
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