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Counter-Clock World

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  2,911 Ratings  ·  192 Reviews
In Counter-Clock World, one of the most theologically probing of all of Dick’s books, the world has entered the Hobart Phase–a vast sidereal process in which time moves in reverse. As a result, libraries are busy eradicating books, copulation signifies the end of pregnancy, people greet with, “Good-bye,” and part with, “Hello,” and underneath the world’s tombstones, the de ...more
Unknown Binding, 160 pages
Published January 1st 1979 by Gregg Press (first published 1967)
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Nov 01, 2010 Manny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
.good pretty is Memento Nolan's .screen the on best works it think I ,though Really .this do to way interesting more much a clearly it's but ,Arrow Time's Amis's of fan huge a not I'm .drink and food for Similarly .discard then you cigarette a into unsmoke you which air smoky of packs large buy you ,cigarettes buy don't you example for so ,time backward and forward of mixture incoherent of sort a there's that is problem The .novel successful most Dick's isn't really this but ,while a for amusing ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Darwin8u rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Place there is none; we go backward and forward, and there is no place.
-- St. Augustine.


"Sic igitur magni quoque circum moenia mundi expugnata dabunt labem putresque ruinas (So likewise the walls of the great universe assailed on all sides shall suffer decay, and fall into ruin."
-- Lucretius, Book ii 1144 1145.

I SAW God. Do you doubt it?
Do you dare to doubt it?
I saw the Almighty Man. His hand
Was resting on a mountain, and
He looked upon the World and all about it: 5
I saw him plainer than yo
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick's short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.

Time moves b
Counter-Clock World is weird because of how very NOT weird it is. That probably won't make a whole lot of sense if you're not familiar with a lot of what PKD was cranking out in the 60s. This was during his most prolific period as an author (more than half of his 44 novels were published between 1960-1969), and the majority of those books feature what I'm going to call the Dick Click (for lack of a better term).

You start reading almost any novel by Dick and for the first 50-100 pages you're pret
Kat  Hooper
Aug 08, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. Originally posted at

It’s 1998 and time has started running backward. Aging has reversed so that people are gradually getting younger, and dead people are awakening in their graves and begging to be let out. The excavating companies have the rights to sell the people they unbury to the highest bidder. When Sebastian Hermes’s small excavating company realizes that Thomas Peak, a famous religious prophet, is about to come back to life, they know that getting to
Dec 29, 2011 James rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This wasn't bad for a short, quick read. Obviously it wasn't Dick's finest hour, but I do give him props for exploring ideas that no other author at the time even bothered exploring. However, it doesn't seem like his ideas were always well-executed, which was the case with Counter-Clock World. The idea of time reversing itself was what drew me into the book, but it didn't live up to its expectations. It sounded intriguing, yes, but I just felt that Dick didn't take advantage of the potential he ...more
Apr 12, 2013 Marvin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those Philip K. Dick novels that has a fascinating premise but is perhaps a little too hard for the author to handle at this developing time in his career. There are some really nice philosophical turns throughout but the concept may be a little too strange and artificial. For anyone else this would be a four star book but Dick has written better.

.ǫninniǫɘd ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫnibnɘ bnɒ bnɘ ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫniƚɿɒƚƨ ,ƨiʜƚ ɘʞil ƚi ɘƚoɿw ɘvɒʜ bluoʜƨ ɘʜ ǫniʞniʜƚ qɘɘʞ I ,noiƚnɘm oƚ ƚoИ

But then, I'm weird.
Perry Whitford
Jul 20, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a post-WWIV society (which began in, er, 1986) time starts to reverse by a phenomenon entitled the Hobart Phase, where the living grow younger by the day and the dead come back to life, requiring their exhumation by trained experts.

Sebastian Hermes owns one such Vitarium, as well as being a resurrectee. He legally owns the bodies he revives, selling them to either family or to the highest bidder. When he exhumes an influential spiritual leader, known as the Anarch Peak, he finds himself tradi
Daniel Reyes
Jan 21, 2011 Daniel Reyes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is one of the strangest stories I have read, set in a world where time has reversed itself and the dead are coming back to life, books are being unwritten, food is no longer ingested but disgorged, and in general, as the title of the book suggests the world has started to move counter-clockwise. The real impact of this story however is in the philosophical and theological issues addressed by the characters, and the profound impact that mass resurrection has had on religious doctrine.

Darran Mclaughlin
Philip K. Dick gets a lot of respect from writers and critics from both inside and outside the Science Fiction establishment. This is the fourth book by him I have read and I am still astonished by what a bad writer he is. He has interesting ideas, and The Man In The High Castle was a good novel, but his prose is Dan Brown bad and his characterization is less subtle and three dimensional than The Bold And The Beautiful, or any bad soap opera you care to mention. I have enjoyed the film adaptatio ...more

Un libro molto diverso dai più noti di Dick.
Escluso ogni elemento fantascientifico, sono comunque presenti alcuni temi cari all’autore, come l’esistenza di molteplici realtà possibili, diversi continuum, la non linearità del tempo, calati in una storia dalle tinte fosche, a volte inquietanti. La capacità evocativa di Dick risulta magistrale anche in generi narrativi diversi dalla fantascienza, così come la sua bravura nel seminare spunti di riflessione molto profondi, talora turbanti.
Jun 12, 2016 R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
An interesting sci-fi noir fantasy-dystopia, where biological time flows backwards but not life itself. Nor history. People growing young make new mistakes (or at least variations on their old mistakes) and the world finds new ways to spin itself into the abyss (or at least tumble into deeper fissures).

PKD hits the usual sweet spots with his sour take on marital fidelity, race relations (with characters based oh-so-thinly on MLK Jr. and Malcolm X) and, always a fan favorite, the Uncanny Valley
Scott Holstad
Dec 21, 2012 Scott Holstad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a three star book I'm giving four stars to because of its originality. Dick is an author unlike any other. He can definitely come up with some unique stuff. This isn't Dick's best book, but it's not bad. The premise is interesting. Due to the mysterious Hobart Phase, everything on Earth is moving backwards now, as of the 1980s (this world is in the late 1990s). Dead people wake up and are unearthed by companies who sell them to the highest bidder. The fact that relatives never seem to bi ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 22, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 2002.

In general, Dick's novels contain a dazzling multiplicity of ideas; but Counter-Clock World is dominated by just one and careful limits are placed on how fully it is explored. It is in many ways (dictated by its theme) similar to Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake. There, people relive a decade of their lives, fully conscious that they have already experienced what they are going through; here, time has suddenly reversed.

Dick doesn't go to the extent of r
Patrick Nichols
Jun 25, 2015 Patrick Nichols rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Phillip K. Dick must be the Forrest Gump of running with a premise. In this perplexing muddle, the flow of time has reversed and the dead are coming back to life. Well, sort of. Sebastian Hermes' job is to loiter around cemeteries and disinterestedly disinter the recently undeceased. Apparently this entails a lot of paperwork; and PKD is fairly relentless in detailing the economics of undeath. The time reversal aspect is more of an afterthought; aside from the fact that everyone is getting young ...more
Nov 27, 2012 Mel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book with a creepy ending. Sometime in the 1980s time had started going backwards on Earth (Mars was still ok) so dead people were coming back from the dead and ageing backwards (while people who hadn't died also started ageing backwards). The premise was odd, and probably because of Red Dwarf, a bit silly in places. But nonetheless it was an interesting story. I think my favourite idea was the evil library that was intent on destroying all information, eradicating knowledge f ...more
Mar 01, 2008 Jack rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually kind of a crappy story, but the idea is fantastic: a world in which time is moving backwards. People begin their lives buried in cemeteries and have to be dug up before they suffocate. They regurgitate their food and put it back in the refrigerator. Before they get into bed every morning, they use a razor which puts stubble on their faces and legs. People get younger and younger and eventually turn into babies and crawl into their mothers. Nine months later (or earlier) their mothers ha ...more
Jan 06, 2011 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spec-fiction, 2011
So, this is what classic SF looks like. Sorry, but I can't see why Dick made it so big. His characters are laughably false -- particularly the women. I'd be insulted if it wasn't so ridiculous. As for the plot: almost as laughable. As for the whole idea behind the story: this is worth 2 stars.

Time has reversed, meaning the dead are rising, living their lives over and disappearing into the nearest available womb. When a dead guru begins to stir it seems everyone is interested in his resurrection:
One of the better Philip K. Dicks, although I don't think it cracks my top five. The setting is very unusual: near future, where people age in reverse so they come alive in their graves and have to be dug out. They then get progressively younger until they become babies and need someone to take care of them. Lots of things happen in reverse, although why is not always explained, such as libraries gradually eliminating books over time, smokers puffing smoke into cigarette butts to make them whole ...more
Nov 27, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another PKD novel which, despite the fact that his strange universe makes little logical sense and fails to obey its own rules, still captivates you to the point where you simply do not care about any of that: it simply becomes another way for the characters to question their own sense of reality, of existence, and what they want. In that sense it kept me intrigued from page one, and continued to do so all the way through to the (unusually sad for PKD) ending. Any complaints against the nove ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Mitch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This book deserves more than the 3 stars I gave it. It's pretty good; better than your average read why have I done this?

Well, because as far as I can tell, the central premise doesn't really make any sense. You have people who are living from old age to youth, actively doing some things backwards (disgorging instead of eating) but in many other ways actively doing things forwards. (People get shot. Shouldn't people be pulling bullets out of them instead?)

Regardless of this, the
Jason Boyd
It's an interesting concept that Dick does really well - time has been going backwards for years, and people are starting to come back from the dead. It's main character, Sebastian Hermes, owns a vitarium, which is a business that finds people waking up in their coffins and gets them out. They then sell that person on to the highest bidder.

It's all going well until the Anarch Peak, the leader of the Free Negro Municipality religion (yes, that's its name) awakens and a battle ensues over who gets
Ed Erwin
For Dick fans only.

Like even the best of Dick, this has leaden dialogue and flat characters.

Like even the worst of Dick, this has interesting ideas, plot twists and reversals, and puts characters in interesting situations.

The central principle, that the dead come back and age backwards -- disgorging food instead of eating it, un-smoking cigarettes, etc., -- is preposterous. But it does lead to some interesting new insults, such as mouth-hole!

If you are already a fan of Dick, there is no reason y
May 26, 2016 Ippino rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantascienza
Dick aveva veramente un'immaginazione infinita.
Aveva idee originali e riusciva a svilupparle molto bene.
In questo romanzo ci sono concetti che poi verranno utilizzati ed ampliati in altre sue opere, come "Valis", "Ma gli androidi sognano pecore elettriche?", "Deus Irae".
La trama è intrigante, i personaggi abbastanza credibili.
Un aspetto solo non mi è piaciuto tanto, perché non ben gestito, e cioè che i vari protagonisti si innamorano un pò troppo repentinamente.
Per il resto, è un romanzo abbasta
Really low 3 - I contemplated giving it a 2. I mean, time starts running backwards so the dead are reborn and you have to eat through your colon and puke up food? Is he in 6th grade?

Also, it's mostly chase scenes and spy counter-spy stuff. It is interlaced with theological tracts, which you might think would be my way in, but it's pretty unremarkable theology. What saves the book is the protagonist, who is so very human.
Sep 25, 2009 Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, pulp
Sort of reminded me of The Simulacra, though it's been too long since I've read that one to be able to say why it reminded me of it. Some really great theological/philosophical debates, though.

Plus: Hobart Phase. How much of a genius do you have to be to think that up? Awesome.

But poor Joe Tinbane! Why did he have to die!
Sep 05, 2015 Kris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ok, as always, Philip K. Dick has some cool ideas or at the very least an interesting way of looking at less original ideas. But man, the writing and storyline. And the female characters. Damn.
Phillip Ramirez
Jul 12, 2016 Phillip Ramirez rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pkd-2016
May 06, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

I first read this when I was in my late teens or early twenties -- about the right age to most enjoy Philip K. Dick, in other words -- and, perhaps surprisingly, found it a great disappointment after works like The Man in the High Castle. When I picked it up to read again recently, as part of a project about time-travel stories that I'm toying with, a sense of deep miasmic gloom pervaded every fibre of my socks, etc. But this time round the surprise was in the other direction: I really quite enj
Jack Stovold
My Philip K. Dick Project

Entry #36 - Counter-Clock World (Written late ‘65-late ‘66, published Feb. 7, 1967)

The premise of Counter-Clock World is insane. Dick used this premise once before in his short story "Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday", which worked well enough as a short story. Only Dick would be crazy enough to try and build an entire novel around something that is so nonsensical.

In the world of Counter-Clock World something called the Hobart Phase, which for completely unknown rea
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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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“…we all lie to ourselves; we tell our own selves more lies than we ever do other people.” 65 likes
“Religion, Sebastian thought wearily. More ins and outs, more angles, than ordinary commerce.” 1 likes
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