Jack Stovold's Reviews > Time Out Of Joint

Time Out Of Joint by Philip K. Dick
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Jun 27, 2012

it was amazing
Read from June 25 to 26, 2012

My Philip K. Dick Project

Entry #14 - Time Out of Joint (written Jan. 1958, published 1959)

This is one of Dick’s best sci-fi novels yet! It moved rapidly, and I couldn’t put it down, ended up reading it in less than two days. Dick’s writing is getting better with each novel. One thing I’ve enjoyed during the course of this project is watching the convergence of Dick’s “literary” and “sci-fi” styles. The beginning of this book reads a lot like Dick’s mainstream novels, albeit in a more compressed, broadly-stroked fashion. Indeed, it just seems like another Dick story about a low-key family living in small town ???. That should be your first hint that something is amiss, as Dick never fails to note specifically where his stories take place and make use of local color. In fact, this struck me so much when I was reading this that I started to wonder if I had somehow missed it somewhere along the line.
The real masterful thing about this book is all the little details that are just a little off, but all figure into a big payoff at the end. Dick somehow manages to make them nearly as subliminal to the reader as they are to Gumm and his family. The low-key weirdness slowly escalates at just the right pace to build maximum tension and keep you turning those pages.
This book has a lot in common with The Cosmic Puppets, and both hit the sweet spot of guys caught up in some kind of vast paranoid conspiracy that threatens to upset their entire conception of reality, one of my very favorite types of genre story. As is often the case in these kinds of stories is when the characters manage to open the seams of a constructed reality, or go past the barrier they didn’t even know was there but now must cross at any cost. One of my favorite moments comes when Ragle and Vic journey out on the highway farther than anyone was ever supposed to go and marvel as it changes from ordinary asphalt to a mysterious material they couldn’t identify. Their escape leads them to an eerie place, and fundamental truths are altered. And then, best of all, they remember...
It’s hard to talk about this too much without spoiling the plot, so suffice it to say this is highly recommended. It might be my favorite yet.

Stray thoughts:

# Where the heck did Dick come up with a name like “Ragle Gumm”?

# A minor quibble, but one that nags me is that the eventual revelations don’t really explain the dematerializations Ragle sees, or Vic’s eerie experience on the bus...

My edition: Penguin ROC British paperback,

Up next: “In Milton Lumky Territory”!

June 27, 2012
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