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Galactic Pot-Healer

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,556 ratings  ·  142 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 May 31st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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Most Under-rated Science Fiction
131st out of 1,043 books — 1,095 voters
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Best of Philip K. Dick
26th out of 47 books — 268 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
Thom Foolery
May 12, 2014 Thom Foolery rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Die-hard PKD fans
Recommended to Thom 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 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
Disclaimer - I'm not much of a fan of PKD, but I love some of his lines and some of his ideas, so I keep reading despite the sexism, paranoia, etc.

Also - Spoiler Alert - some of what I say below is quite far in the book, but otoh it's not exactly spoilers to the plot, and the plot isn't much anyway... but if you're *very* sensitive you might want to stop here.

I found this to be quite clever, but not really memorable. Most of the humor was the kind that I realize is funny only after I've turned t
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
Kilburn Adam
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.
Mad Dog
Feb 09, 2011 Mad Dog rated it 2 of 5 stars
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
Julie Davis
Mar 23, 2013 Julie Davis rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: Jesse from SFFaudio
Shelves: 2013-list
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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
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
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
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
Daniel Burton-Rose
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!
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
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
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
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
Here we have PKD really getting into his theological phase, and it's crammed with his usual inexhaustible inventiveness, but it's all so short, and PKD doesn't really integrate his weirder ideas with the plot as well as he could later, which is too bad, because there's some good stuff here:

— The Glimmung. It's genuinely fascinating, and one of PKD's most interesting characters. The balance between its weird benevolence and pure rage made it unpredictable and dangerous-feeling. I'm really interes
Matteo Pellegrini
E' la storia bizzarra di una missione di restauro dietro cui si nascondonoforze oscure impegnate nell'eterna lotta tra il bene e il male. Dopo un inizioapparentemente innocuo, il lettore viene coinvolto in una spirale d'incubo epaura. Il protagonista è un taumaturgo, capace con i suoi poteri di ripararevasi, terracotte e porcellane. Giunge inaspettata un'offerta di lavoro per unamissione sul lontano Pianeta del Contadino. E' una creatura aliena a reclutareJoe, insieme a esperti di tutta la Galas ...more
I was about to give this book 2-stars, but the last sentence was worth the extra point. Best last sentence I've ever read.
My first impression of this book was from a review I read about this book (maybe here on Goodreads) that said that Dick did not think much of this work of his.... Yeah, not the most inspiring thing, yet I had such a blast with "Martian Time-Slip" on Audio Cassette, that when I saw this had the same guy reading it, I felt I had to have it.

Actually my first impression would have been just reading the title "Galactic Pot-Healer"--- Well, Hell Yeah!
Well it turns out it is not what it sounds like,..
Finished this book over a month ago and it's been sitting in my "to be reviewed" pile since then and man do I feel like an arse about it! A book should be reviewed as soon upon completion as possible! But then again, this book was so damned strange (and for this author, that says something!) that I think I wanted to take some time and let my mind process it.

That done, lets do a quick recap shall we? Just so you know what I mean about the 'processing it' thing...
Basically this is very much a Phi
Mina Villalobos
Aug 21, 2009 Mina Villalobos rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: horror readers, sci-fi readers, people who like psychodelic things
This book is a round experience. From the moment it starts, it never stops firing at you. I felt the situations were much more interesting than the characters -the main characters, Joe the pot healer (as in ceramic repair), Molly the coral expert and Glimmung, the demi-god, are the more fleshed out, but they are rather annoying- if just because the situations were so varied and shifting, the contrast between the purposeless dull life Joe led back in the socialistic dystopia of Earth and a life o ...more
A very good (but not quite Ubik-great) Philip Dick novel. A classic Dick future is painted that seems advanced and cheap at the same time; shiny enough but with dustballs in every corner.
The characters grapple with meaninglessness, rendered at times in shockingly simple yet sincere prose:
I am like a gray thing, he thought. Bustling along with the currents of air that tumble me, that roll me, like a gray puff-ball, on and on.
At other times, taking on a Beckett-like feel:
And prepared to wait. U
Joe Fernwright is a man doomed to merely exist on an overpopulated, overbearing, socialist Earth. His only joy in life are the increasingly few commissions to mend earthenware; a tradition passed down to him since his grandfather's era. Thus the novel's title.

He is contacted by a mysterious entity, the Glimmung, who wants to employ Joe for a very particular and very well paid project on the planet of Sirius 5, colloquially known as 'Plowman's Planet'.

That's the setup.

The first part of the book
Que de tristesse et de désillusion dans ce livre de Philip K. Dick. Nimbé dans une chape de noirceur, l'auteur invite ses lecteurs à quitter la Terre qui ne peut plus rien apporter à l'espèce humaine.

Joe Farnwright nous fera visiter le monde crée par l'écrivain : un monde totalitaire, liberticide, consumériste et surpeuplé où finalement l'homme n'a plus sa place. Dans cet univers, soit l'on accepte une vie sans intérêt, désocialisée et emplie de jeux ineptes, soit celle-ci devient rapidement ins
Short flash-novella filled with brief theological flash-references. It reminds me a lot of The Alchemist in many ways in the coming of personal self-actualization. Written more contemporarily and hurriedly, Galactic Pot-Healer offers a few nuggets of wisdom. I say read this one as you would pan for gold, sifting through sediments, silt, and river water. I personally like the story because I am interested in throwing pottery. There are some but few comprehensive allusions to throwing pottery itse ...more
Mittlerweile der dritte Roman von Philip K. Dick, den ich gelesen habe. Ich bin immer wieder von seinen abwechlungsreichen Ideen beeindruckt. Hier verwandelt sich das SciFi-Szenario recht schnell in eine sehr surreale Handlung, die ich am ehesten mit Lovecraft vergleichen würde (obwohl ich leider noch keinen Roman von ihm gelesen habe, sondern nur Verfilmungen kenne).
Das Ganze ist ziemlich absurd - alleine schon die Entstehungsgeschichte der Kathedrale.

Beeindruckend sind auch in diesem Roman wie
I am a great fan of PKD in general but this book left me (the second time around, after several years of reading it the first time) not only with the usual PKD questions unanswered but also asking why this is a novel rather than a dramatic production in the style of Waiting for Godot.

The protagonist, Joe Fernwright, is an absurd fellow in an absurd profession on an absurd version of a future earth. Other absurdities follow from this baseline, sometimes piling on one another so thickly the read b
I haven't read any Philip K. Dick in some time and what got me to look to his work was a movie I recently watched called 'Next' with Nicolas Cage and Jessica Biel. If you haven't seen 'Next', rent it soon. It's a very circular story of possibilities based on Dick's short story 'The Golden Man'.

Many of Philip's storys have been adapted for the screen including 'Blade Runner', 'Minority Report', and 'Total Recall'. And that's not the half of it. After viewing 'Next', I went to my library's website
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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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“No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.” 48 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.” 6 likes
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