Substance Mort
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Substance Mort

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  42,974 ratings  ·  1,370 reviews
Dans une Amérique imaginaire livrée à l’effacement des singularités et à la paranoïa technologique, les derniers survivants de la contre-culture des années 60 achèvent de brûler leur cerveau au moyen de la plus redoutable des drogues, la Substance Mort.
Dans cette Amérique plus vraie que nature, Fred, qui travaille incognito pour la brigade des stups, le corps dissimulé sou...more
Mass Market Paperback, 395 pages
Published October 1st 2000 by Gallimard Education (first published 1977)
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I used to wonder how Phillip K. Dick came up with all the trippy concepts in his stories until I read A Scanner Darkly. That’s when I realized that the drugs probably had a lot to do with it.

Originally published in 1977 and set in the mid ‘90s, the book tells the story of Bob Arctor. Arctor appears to be just another burned out druggie who lives with a couple of other dopers, and they spend most of their time getting high on Substance D and assorted other drugs. Bob is actually an undercover nar...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Jan 13, 2013 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: drug users, acid-fantasy
I've started and restarted this review a number of times. With that in mind, I'm going to take a page from mark monday ( and share a multi-perspective review.

The .gif summation:


Recipe for A Scanner Darkly:

1. Take moderate amounts of the drug of your choice (recommend one with highly hallucinogenic and paranoiac qualities)
2. Allow to simmer while reading Less Than Zero
3. Stir in a random amount of a second drug (preferably one with potential for permanent...more
Robert Farwell
Be happy NOW, for tomorrow I will be writing.
Take the cash and let the credit GO
I'll write MY review tomorrow.
Let US all be happy.
And play AGAIN.


So, I wrote a review I was really proud of today during lunch. Four or five paragraphs. I liked it a lot. So, I was rather disheartened when my computer froze and I had to do a hard-boot to unfreeze it. Lost everything but the vague outlines of what I wrote. Even those vague outlines seem difficult to grasp right now. I'm kinda demoraliz...more
I had a whole lot of fun reviewing this...


But there is a serious side:

In the novel, Fred’s mind and brain are regularly tested by police department psychologists, owing to the stress of both maintaining a dual identity, and taking drugs as part of his undercover life. Dick avoids the off-the-shelf cliché’s of ink-blots and electric shocks, as the author describes realistic test scenarios and recognisable neuropsychological tests. Worryingly for Fred, the
Aug 15, 2007 Dan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Druggies, Friends of Druggies, PKD fans, cyberpunk fans
In this novel there are two types of people, those who are addicted to substance D, and those who haven't tried it yet. Substance D is the ultimate high, and highly addictive. This book is the story of Fred, the narcotics agent, and Bob Arctor, the substance D dealer, who he is investigating. Of course, Fred and Bob Arctor are one person who is having his personality split apart by copious abuse of substance D.

This book is simultaneously hilarious and heart breaking and it is a really excellent...more
My favorite PKD books tend to be those published in the 60s when he was writing wacky fun reality warping sci-fi like Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep etc. Of his 70s books that I have read Flow My Tears the Policeman Said is my favorite, whereas VALIS I could not (as yet) finish. I think the later PKD novels tend to be more serious and introspective though the weirdness is always present.

A Scanner Darkly is one of his early 70s books and I find it...more
3.5 stars. One of Dick's best novels, this semi autobiographical novel is masterful in its description of drug use and the effect it has on the people taking them. The dialogue between the characters is often very funny and I would find myself laughing at their nonsensical conversations until I remembered that the reason for the funny dialogue was that these people were so messed up on "substance D" that they had become completely psychotic. No one other then PKD could have written this novel an...more
Eddie Watkins
I watched the Richard Linklater film version of this again over the weekend, and besides confirming that it's my favorite Dick adaptation it also reminded me how much I love the book. Besides being a perfect exemplification of out-there paranoia (the circular structure really turns the screw on this), like almost every book of his it's also firmly and tangibly rooted in the things and relationships of mundane daily life. This book gives me a paranoia contact high.
One of the first things I noticed about this book was how quickly I was drawn into this world. Set in 1994 unless you were told or already knew then I highly doubt you'd pick that it was written in 1977. It could have been set today and still I would have believed it. Philip K. Dick was always well ahead of his time and his writing holds up as well now as it did when first written.

This book delves into the murky world of psychedelic drugs and the police trying to stop it but not in a typical cri...more
I've made it. I have finally reached the summit of the second Library of America collection of Philip K. Dick books, Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s. With my flag firmly planted atop the snow-capped peak of this book I can look back upon two weeks of paranoia, time travel, authoritarian governments and more experimental drugs than you can find outside of a Merck testing lab, with the self-satisfied air of a man who has plumbed the depths of speed-induced psychosis and made it through the othe...more
A Scanner Darkly can be described as follows: begin with Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, mix in a pinch of The Big Lebowski, a dollop of A Beautiful Mind, a scene from Crime and Punishment, the shadows and penumbra of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, whispered apprehension of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a hint of thirty year in advance anticipation of reality TV, stir in a portion of dystopian science fiction and mix it all together with Philip K. Dick’s weird genius.

A Scanner Darkly: PKD novel 3 Stars / Richard Linklater movie 4 stars (split hemisphere review)

“Hey man, it’s not easy for a doper trying to score and get high in a world of chickenshit straights with their dead-end 9-5 jobs (not to mention The Man always trying to bust you). You’d rather chill out with some mellow heads and foxy chicks dropping tabs, grooving to acid rock, talking about random shit endlessly, and rolling joints. Once you flash onto this, man, and roll a fantasy number in your h...more
David "proud member of Branwen's adventuring party"
A dark, haunting masterpiece. A Scanner Darkly isn't just a great book, it's an IMPORTANT book!

Phillip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly follows the journey of Bob Arctor, an undercover police officer (code-named "Fred") trying to ingratiate himself into the drug culture in an attempt to bring down the suppliers of Substance D, a highly addictive mind-altering drug that can eventually cause permanent brain damage. Tragically, Arctor himself becomes an addict, first only taking Substance D to earn the tr...more
So here I thought I was diving into one of the Sci-Fi classics, and I ended up in what seemed like a wild, trippy, R-rated version of That '70's Show. Except, that's not it either. It was a trip, certainly. "What a long strange trip it's been." - The Grateful Dead.

Well, even though I was lost for much of it, I rode with the trip and didn't worry too much about piecing together a coherent plot. I think the audiobook narration helped quite a bit with that; I don't know that I would have enjoyed th...more
This is a very funny book, and simultaneously quite depressing. It is about an undercover narcotics agent who searches for the terrible drug named "Substance D". The drug has the effect of severing the connection between the two brain hemispheres. The victim suffers disorientation, then a split identity, and permanent brain damage.

While Philip Dick is known for his science fiction, this is definitely a different genre entirely. It is really about a drug culture in Los Angeles in the 1970's. The...more
I like P.K. Dick, but this just plain sucked.

No narrative tension, the writing is awful (I would quote some of it as proof, but I already got rid of my copy), and the most potentially exciting elements of the book (drug subculture and its lingo and take on friendship, multiple identities) are handled with the zest and elegance of a cut-rate rectal exam. Does that analogy even make sense? I don't think so, but neither did this book.

I've heard this was the first book he wrote after he kicked drug...more
This rather astonishing book had me in stitches when I finally figured out the too clever by far, convoluted premise. There is not much I can say without spoilers that might illuminate the action that takes place in a dystopian near future that is not as strange as it should be, more a logical(?) progression of our increasingly regulated, drug dependent society.

A Note on the Title...
from p 185
...I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk.Murk outside; murk inside.I hope, for...more
Absolutely brilliant, and absolutely terrifying. The scary implication is that the condition of the modern man is Arctor's condition -- we are all like that, caught up in it and not being able to see the truth (whatever THAT is, because that has lost its meaning). The other scary implication of this is that at the end of it all, we're all pawns in a larger, political game and we have absolutely no control, even if we think we do.

At the same time, we are not like that -- it is the paradox that sp...more
Paul Cheney
In this partly biographical book, PKD sets about telling the tale about the latest Drug on the block, Substance D. It is written from the point of view of Bob Arctor, a drug addict who is living with a couple of other druggies and who spend most of their time completely stoned.

Arctor is an undercover cop, who is living the life to try and get to the source of the Substance D. He starts getting friendly with Donna, who has a contact, and he slowly starts to fall in love with her. His police bosse...more
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aPriL purrs 'n hisses
1Corinthians 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 Charity suffereth long, a...more
A Scanner Darkly is a terrible book. Not the story, mind you, but what it portrays: humanity's capacity for willful degeneration, mindless hedonism that scorns the integrity of body and mind. The message is not "drugs are bad, m'kay," but "why?" Why would anyone do this to themselves? Is there anything to be done to help them? At what point do they become forever lost, soulless automatons empty of any joy or beauty or humanity; and what is humanity anyway, for that matter? The story breaks down...more
Police informant in a dystopic future America begins to fracture his consciousness as he takes increasing quantities of drugs to maintain his cover.

Hm. This is a confused, rather disarticulated book, so I have no problem talking about it in the same manner:

• Like a lot of dystopic futures, this one feels incredibly dated. Dystopias are projected anxieties, and this particular projection of America rapidly losing the drug war is so specific to Dick's personal trauma, and to a specific moment in A...more
Whether unjustly or not, no other science fiction author has been as closely linked to the 1960s drug culture--at least in the public eye--as Philip K. Dick...and understandably so. From the San Francisco bar in "The World Jones Made" (1956) that dispensed pot and heroin, to the Bureau of Psychedelic Research in "The Ganymede Takeover" (1966); from the amphetamine and LSD use in "Ubik" (1969) to the afterlife description in "A Maze of Death" (1970) that Dick mentions was based on one of his own...more
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"Ho visto" disse Bruce. Pensò: ho compreso. Che cos'era. Io ho visto crescere la Sostanza M. Io ho visto sorgere la morte dalla terra, dal suolo stesso, in un unico campo azzurro, dalla sembianza di stoppia.

Non ci sono mezzi termini per parlare di questo romanzo. E' un capolavoro assoluto.
A lungo considerato uno dei migliori romanzi di fantascienza, in seguito ad un processo di rivalutazione dell'autore, "Un oscuro scrutare" è considerato uno dei migliori capolavori della letteratura contemporan

Feb 07, 2012 Fox rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Fox by: Jonas
Shelves: fiction, own, sci-fi, 2012
I've been wanting to read this book for ages, but could never find a copy. Every time I put it on hold at the library it was the Graphic Novel adaptation... never saw it for sale, all that. Then I head over to my boyfriend's apartment, and guess what he has on his shelf? Serendipity.

The book was even better than I expected. I'm a sci-fi fan, but a reluctant one, and the bulk of my reading in that genre has been H.G. Wells and Ray Bradbury. I've not really gone the William Gibson or Philip K. Dic...more
Originally posted here as part of the 30 Day Book Challenge.

I am having a REALLY HARD TIME with this category. I already posted a list of Five Book-to-Movie Adaptations I Don't Hate, and the only one I can come up with that probably should have been on the list that didn't make it was High Fidelity, but that's not a FAVOURITE so I don't know.

Since that's the case, I'm going to expand on one of those entries, which kind of makes me laugh because I think I've done enough talking about this author...more
The important thing to know going into this book is that it is non-fiction. Okay, sure, librarians have put it on the shelf with the "robots and spaceships" and all manner of other sci-fi trash. Yes, the plot is made up and the narrative devices aren't real. But everything important - the characters, the humanity, the slow but depressingly unwavering descent into helpless self-destruction and a bitter end - that's all bluntly, undeniably true.

You should know this going into it. You should know t...more
Where’s there’s dope there’s hope, unless it is Substance D. Bob Arctor Substance D and user, is paranoid as hell. Bob lives in a rundown house with two other junkies, one of them waiting for the others to die to steal their stash. Bob thinks the narcs are after him. And he is right, in the weirdest possible way. Fred, an undercover drug enforcement agent is tailing Bob and taking drugs to fit in the junky life style, scanning Bob’s house, watching and listening to three hopeless junkies. Back a...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
More about Philip K. Dick...
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The Man in the High Castle Ubik Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

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“Everything in life is just for a while.” 278 likes
“If I'd known it was harmless, I'd have killed it myself!” 85 likes
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