Janelle Dazzlepants's Reviews > Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
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Oct 26, 10

bookshelves: sci-fi
Read from October 09 to 25, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Having read this as part of Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s, I feel like this is one of the better stories included in the anthology. I love mistaken identity action films and stories, so the idea of someone waking up as a 'nonperson' in a world where having ID cards means the difference between life and death (or a forced-labour camp) was really interesting to me. As awful as it sounds, I also found the idea of 'sixes' and the covered-up eugenics experiments to be quite interesting, which I imagine stems from my love for Brave New World.

I also liked that Philip K Dick managed to tie in these interesting themes with hallucinogenic drug use and 'travelling' through time and space. Although it can be a bit overwhelming to read several of his stories close together due to the overlap in themes, I was loving it. I wish the drug and time/space travel themes had been brought in a bit earlier though, because it kind of felt like bad pacing and that Philip K Dick had a bit of a deus ex machina moment and went 'Holy shit, I need to explain this craziness so I'll just throw some drugs and time travel in there real quick'.

It would have been nice for drug use to even be hinted at, or Alys introduced earlier in the text. The drugs didn't have to be a major component like they were in Now Wait for Last Year, but the story could have benefited from them being introduced benignly at the start. It felt like Dick had written most of the book, walked away from it, and come back with a completely new perspective - which is not always bad, but can make for a bit of a disjointed story. I felt the same while reading The Lovely Bones, though I was aware of the author's circumstances while writing that book.

I also wish I'd been able to read more about Alys and all her weird fetish behaviour - how the phone line orgies work is particularly fascinating to me! And Buckman briefly mentioned her having an operation to cut out everything but the pleasure centres in her brain, so it would have been cool to hear/read a bit more about the effects of that. And as repulsive as it is, I would have preferred the incest storyline to be expanded upon, because it seemed like that was thrown in there quickly and randomly too.

I didn't mind the protagonist Jason Taverner, because even though he was quite pompous and a bit conceited, he was far less annoying than other Philip K Dick protagonists, namely Eric Sweetscent from Now Wait for Last Year. It's probably the Tall Poppy Syndrome coming out in me, but I have to say that I enjoyed watching him be cut down and reduced to a nobody ;] I would have liked to have heard a lot more about how he came to be a six though, and what the characteristics of sixes were.

I also wish the incident regarding the feeding tube creature had been resolved further. Judging from those scenes I thought the story would be along the lines of Alien, but this was never really mentioned after Taverner woke up in the hotel. Did that really happen? Was it simply there to signify the start of Alys' universe/delusion? Im not sure if I missed something there, but I wanted to know more!

Although my review might infer the opposite, there's actually something I was satisfied with - Katharine's storyline. I'm not dying to know anymore about her, though the cause of her psychotic break and whether Jack does exist or not would be interesting to explore. I'm just not begging to find out more about her ;]

I really enjoyed the themes in this book overall, but as is the case with many of his texts, Philip K Dick left a fair bit to be desired. I'm always able to find something in a text that I wish had been expanded upon, but Dick leaves me wondering enough that I feel like I need a whole 'nother book on that topic to satisfy me! But if you enjoy the themes and don't have an obsessive need for closure like I do, you may enjoy it a bit more. It's certainly an enjoyable read, and a bit better than other stories of his that I've read lately. :)
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