Henrik's Reviews > Four Novels of the 1960s

Four Novels of the 1960s by Philip K. Dick
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's review
Jun 17, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, currently-reading
Read from February 07 to 18, 2010

** spoiler alert ** The first volume of the three-books set from the Library of America.

FEBRUARY 18, 2010:

The Man in the High Castle:

Well, well, my first Philip K. Dick novel... And what do I think? Hm...

Well, I think that had I been younger (say, in my teens or early 20s) I would have been more impressed. As it is I enjoyed the story but ultimately it left me dissatisfied. Just as things were starting to happen, so to speak, the story stopped.

I greatly appreciate Dick's play with the notion of Reality--it's splendid, in fact--but it is not well enough put together in the story, in my opinion. A lot of threads and too few knots tying it together.

It is cool enough to read what on the surface is a story about an alternative historic reality (what if the Japanese and the Germans were the ones who won WWII?) and following different characters, both some "at the bottom" on the social scale and some of the high-ups, and how they live and perceive their life; and it was interesting how both the I Ching and a novel in the story about an alternate reality ("What if the Japanese and the Germans had lost the war?) played a crucial role. Dick's talent for entering the mindset of a given character is amazing and really caught me each and every time. And the times where--in various ways--Reality shifts and/or is blurred were also captivating and mesmerizing moments. Dick's toying with both metaphysic reality and cultural reality is quite something worth following. A shame in the end all of it felt, to me, merely as a lot of great moments but not tied together well enough to make a well-rounded story.

Okay, some would say there is a reason for this, that it is a point with the story--perhaps even underlined by what happens in the end at the home of the author of the fictive book-telling-the-truth. There is a point in most of the threads hanging; it says something about Reality according to Dick. But if that's the case either it went over my head or it just is too speculative and with not enough storytelling for my taste. I think the latter is the case but who am I to judge (if something went over my head I really can't say, right?;-)).

A story I will therefore rate 3 or 3½, since I do like it but not without a number of "but"s. I can't decide which... Which is also, in a way, a recommendation;-)

MARCH 19, 2010:

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch:

There is no doubt that on the conceptual level this novel is the work of a genius. Mind boggling concepts, juggling discussions about God, existence, Reality (Realities), Time, life & death, and such rather heavy matter. And there is an interesting story to go along with it all... But what leaves me somewhat dissatisfied after all is that the storyline as a whole seems to be different elements pieced together for no (in my opinion) real logical reason. For instance, after the fascinating (and wonderfully turned-dark) drug-induced experiences Barney have the following chapter starts with him thinking Palmer Eldritch is actually God Himself. Now, that would be OK if something in the storyline before--or some revelation later on--somehow showed this. But in my opinion this never happens. It is and remains pure speculation, and I don't really see this element in what I read. Sure, in the "drug worlds" Palmer apparently can turn up whenever he wants to and such, but this doesn't indicate him being God Himself, in Real Life (or even in those "worlds"). Not by a long shot, in my opinion.

So--in short--this is a conceptually wonderful tale (5 stars) but the execution isn't without its flaws... So 4 stars, all in all, to Palmer Eldritch.

JUNE 14, 2010:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?:

My favourite of the first three novels. The novel seems more focused and, well, tight (repeating myself there, eh?:-P). Since there is also less obvious traces of drugs in this tale I suspect that's a major reason for my experience;-)

While I think the movie starring Harrison Ford succeeds better at emotionally grabbing me re. humanity and the blurry lines between what's human and what's not, Dick's novel no doubt excels in both that and other--often religious--issues as well. He is by and large more of an intellectual writer than an emotional one, in my opinion, but he nevertheless conveys powerful images & ideas, entering with a deeper layer of emotional impact. At least in me.

4½ stars.

(I kept wondering, btw, if "android" and "Nexus-6" are the origins for Google's cellphone system, Android, and their own first smartphone, Nexus One?... A little upsetting, really...;-))

Next: Ubik.
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Reading Progress

02/08/2010 page 28
02/10/2010 page 80
9.64% 3 comments
02/21/2010 page 262
31.57% "Lol - "The UN was a windowless monad over which he had on influence." Page 246."
02/21/2010 page 262
31.57% "Lol - "The UN was a windowless monad over which he had no influence." Page 246."
03/14/2010 page 421
50.72% "All of a sudden quite philosophical and heavily religious... or "pseudo"...?"
03/19/2010 page 435
52.41% "Completed STIGMATA... Next in line: DO ANDROIDS DREAM...?"
04/10/2010 page 462
55.66% "DO ANDROIDS DREAM...: Interesting thoughts on empathy."
06/07/2010 page 544
65.54% "So far "Do Androids Dream..." is my favourite story in this collection."
06/15/2010 page 610
68.0% "Completed Do Androids Dream...."
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Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-4 of 4) </span> <span class="smallText">(4 new)</span>

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message 1: by Jeannie (new)

Jeannie Sloan Looks very interesting.I look forward to your review.

Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann I am eager to get your reviews from this book Henrik! These 4 stories literally changed my perspective on what I viewed as reality... not so sure if it was for the better though, ha.

Henrik I just finished The Man in the High Castle. I'll let you know what I think soon, when I have cooked up a review:-)

Henrik Well, Jeannie and Erich, here you go: A review of The Man in the High Castle. I have tried avoiding detail spoilers but some kind of spoiler here and there was impossible to avoid when trying to figure out what I thought.

I hope what I write makes sense.

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