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The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

(VALIS Trilogy #3)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  6,325 ratings  ·  281 reviews
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, the final novel in the trilogy that also includes Valis and The Divine Invasion, is an anguished, learned, and very moving investigation of the paradoxes of belief. It is the story of Timothy Archer, an urbane Episcopal bishop haunted by the suicides of his son and mistress - and driven by them into a bizarre quest for the identity of ...more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published July 2nd 1991 by Vintage (first published May 1982)
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Michael Perkins Thanks for the link below, Mike. I had forgotten that Bishop Pike was trying to reach his son in the other world. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the…moreThanks for the link below, Mike. I had forgotten that Bishop Pike was trying to reach his son in the other world. Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the ultra-rational Sherlock Holmes, went through a similar experience in the last 20 yeas of his life. His son died in action in WW I and Doyle was desperate to contact him. He became a full-scale "spiritualist," who got involved in seances and went around lecturing about it. He also believed in fairies. As for PKD, there were always rumors that he wrote, at least some of his books, on speed.(less)

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Jan 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
My first thoughts about The Transmigration of Timothy Archer was what a terrible shame, what a great loss that Philip K. Dick died so young.

His voice had matured in the 80s but his imagination and his speculative genius was still very much intact and vibrant as in the 50s. My second thought was (and I have wondered this same thought after reading other books by him) why in the world was he not more popular in his own time.

He was ahead of his time, way ahead of his time. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinc
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a re-read for me and perhaps not exactly my favorite of his last and greatest sequence of linked novels that began with VALIS, but it is still profound and beautiful.

Truly, it is a very good book, but it stands as both a major departure from PKD's normal fiction. That's to say, it's a novel that explores all the same themes that he's is known for, but he does it in a very firmly grounded and mainstream way that very much does NOT touch upon his more traditional SF style.

Suicide, madness,
Aug 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, scifi, fiction, american
“No single thing abides; and all things are fucked up.”
― Philip K. Dick, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer


Transmigration of Timothy Archer was brilliant in parts, very engaging, but there were also pieces that just didn't quite fit. I'm willing to give PKD a lot of credit for attempting, so late in his life, a 'mainstream novel'. Ultimately, however, I couldn't quite swallow the whole book (oh me of little faith). I'm not sure if it was a dissatisfaction with it not living up to my expectati
The Transmigration of Timothy Archer: Explores madness, suicide, faith, the occult
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Philip K Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth (1985) and VALIS (1981) were strange but moving attempts to make sense of his bizarre religious experiences in 1974 when a hyper-rational alien mind contacted him via a pink laser from space. He then wrote The Divine Invasion (1981) and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982), both loosely connected titles in the VALIS TRILOGY, although
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some notes upon finishing the book.

This is NOT the third book in the "VALIS Trilogy". It is what the author says it is in What If Our World Is Their Heaven, a literary novel that took more out of him to write than four SF novels. He had something to get out about life in general, and his experience with Bishop James Pike in particular, and this is it, a thing in itself. There is nothing here that requires the kind of suspension of disbelief demanded by genre SF. All is derived from conventional
Jul 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tweekers
see Dick. See Dick run. See Dick write about the sacred quest to escape one's body and transcend the narrow human perception of experience through the ongoing search for the essential logos via the ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms while retracing the steps of the Christ. (pant)
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, audio
Well, I hate to say this but this was my least favorite of the VALIS books. My guess is because it was too mainstream and not enough far-out weird stuff. So even though a lot of the religious stuff bored me (mostly because a lot of it is just over my head), the story itself with Angel, Tim, and all the other characters, did not fill in the rest of story with the wacky dialogue and interactions that I enjoyed in the previous two books. Yeah, there were some great scenes, but just not enough to pu ...more
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The fixed idea of madness is fascinating, if you are inclined toward viewing with interest something that is palpably impossible yet nonetheless exists.” (p.97)

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer is the final novel Philip K. Dick completed before his untimely death in March 1982. Often listed as the third part of the VALIS Trilogy, it bears little relation to the first two VALIS books. (Dick’s intended third part of the trilogy, The Owl in Daylight, never progressed beyond a rough outline.) It
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book feels more like Valis than it does The Divine Invasion. Like the first volume of the trilogy, it is grounded in the here and now, the supernatural elements are in the fringes of the story rather than in your face, and it feels like a very personal work.
It is also a great early novel about Gnosticism and obviously had a lot of research put into its development.

Also, even though it comes last in the trilogy, I feel that this book is probably the most accessible of the three.
May 29, 2017 marked it as maybe

It is like information theory; it is noise driving out signal. But it is noise posing as signal so you do not even recognize it as noise. The intelligence agencies call it disinformation, something the Soviet Bloc relies on heavily. If you can float enough disinformation into circulation you will totally abolish everyone's contact with reality, probably your own included.

Putin seeks religious help to quell Russian dissent
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Easier to pay attention to than The Divine Invasion, but still heavy on the Sunday School, I find myself missing the mind-trip of the previous novels. PKD seems to handle women better as first-person female protags. The best parts are when Angel philosophizes about books and records.
Nov 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, novels, favourites
wow. well, this is pretty fresh in my mind, and it's been a couple of weeks. that doesn't surprise me though because the ideas that dick toyed with in his last cycle of books are to me the most compelling, indeed the most disturbing and challenging to my mind. dick's narrator angel archer is one of his most resonant, matter-of-fact, and yes, human. she is a rare accomplishment in terms of his development of a female character, though this may well be because she has his own very human voice, or ...more
May 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Imagine what it would be like to meet Philip K Dick at a dinner party in the mid 70's. He seems to be the person who would dominate a conversation, but in a good way. Filled with ideas, stories, convoluted connections and theories. After a few drinks I'd think "This guy is a genius!". But then when I woke up the next morning, I'm not sure if any of it would make any sense, but still I'd invite him over again to hear what he had to say. What a character he must have been! What a loss that he died ...more
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Erin
PDK's swan song, as it turned out. It is also his most life-affirming book he ever wrote. Part biographical, part literary fiction and part paranormal mystery and 100% Masterpiece, this book is told from the perspective of a woman, something Dick had never done before. That he pulls it off so easily is a testament to the narrative powers that Dick possessed. Sadly, he died weeks after completing this outstanding book. The plot twist is particularly to die for.
Sentimental Surrealist
A woman, you say? Narrating a Philip K. Dick novel? Wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute. For one, everyone knows that the only first-person narrators allowed aboard the Philip K. Dick train are fictional characters known as Philip K. Dick. For another, the guy's misogynist tendencies cannot be missed. And I can't say I'm a fan of them, but since he tells cool stories, I'm willing to bear with him. For the record, he does a decent job with the woman. Philip K. Dick didn't make his name on his characte ...more
Michael Perkins
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel is based on a real person, Bishop James Pike, episcopal Bishop of California in the 1960's. Pike and Dick were friends. The story of Pike is quite bizarre and PKD has rendered it in novel form. This is likely why this novel has a different vibe than his other ones.
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
I was surprised by the tone of the book, which is not typical for Dick, when I started reading. But as I adjusted to it, I really started to like it. There is an honesty and a nakedness to Angel Archer's narration that is startling and difficult, yet simultaneously extremely charming. You can't help but love Angel, not in any sort of physical way but in a deep emotional way.

Unlike Horselover Fat in VALIS, who is also a stand-in for Dick the way Angel is in this novel, Angel is honest with the r
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2008 rated it liked it
This book, the third part of a trilogy beginning with Valis, was nowhere near as mindblowingly wacky as Valis. Rather it was bitter and full of denial. The common thread between Valis and Transmigration is that someone is confronted with the reality of the supernatural, life after death, the resurrection, and they turn their back on it. The major problem in Transmigration is the coldness of the narrator. It sucks to finish reading this book, because even when confronted with everything she has w ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantabulous
This is a challenging, yet compelling third book of the VALIS trilogy, although it stands alone as a novel. It's an empowering and intellectual glimpse into the interpretation of madness, theology and philosophical illusion. Mind twisting, thought provoking and at times disturbing; the obsession with God and metaphysics, schizophrenia and suicide, and the characters themselves drove this book for me and it has definitely made me think and perceive intellect in a new way. Absolutely fantastic.... ...more
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hardcover
This, PKD's 'swan song' of the post-pulp master, is a triumph. A perfect novel. Perhaps there is a little too much theology for most reader`s taste, but it is funny, intelligent and utterly thought provoking. By this time, he had fully reached his abilities, which makes this the perfect choice as the final PKD novel to read. So unfortunate it is not to know what he would have come up with had he lived a few decades longer. ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of my very favorite books, since way back when I first read it in 97 or 98. Not really "sci-fi", and although it's technically the third book in the Valis trilogy, you don't need to read the others to read this, and there aren't any spoilers for the first two books, it's standalone. Deals with a lot of the emotions around people you love dying.
Andrew Murphy
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
herhalde bu roman philip k.dick'in en sevdiğim romanlarından biri olacak. diğer romanlarından farklı olarak bu kez kadın anlatıcı -angel archer- kullanmış. romanı okurken karakterlerin yaşadığı tüm kafa karışıklıklarının, gel-gitlerin aslında pkd'nin bizzat yaşadığı şeyler olduğunu bilmek insanı üzüyor. bu romanda pkd bütün entelektüel ve kültürel birikimini devreye sokmuş(besteler, ilahi komedya'dan alıntılar). romanın sonlarına doğru bir bölüm var, aslında hepimizin bir makine olduğu ile ilgil ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
this late (last) trilogy (that includes VALIS and THE DIVINE INVASION) had some great ideas and each book has its own way of charting a narrative and integrating a good deal of philosophy and religious dogma into the mix. i think if PKD had written another ten years, we would view the trilogy as a transition period from classic science fiction (that had unique ways of playing with the genre, to be sure) into a hybrid of science fiction that did a better job of integrating the two styles.

it's pos
Marcelo Lee
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hippies velhos de ressaca da contra-cultura; gurus new age obesos; uso de barbitúricos, anti-depressivos e algumas outras drogas mais leves; seitas (pré)-cristãs; religiosidade e questionamentos sobre Deus; ressureição; bodhisattvas; suicídio, esquizofrenia e mais outras patologias psicológicas.

E no fundo de tudo isso o livro mais pessoal que eu li do Phillip K dick. Apesar da narrativa ao redor da protagonista e o seu círculo familiar, o romance acaba sendo mais um suporte para pequenas reflex
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cuando le conté a mi hermano que estaba leyendo este libro lo primero que me preguntó era si habia leído los otros antes. Aún no me queda claro cuáles otros ni por qué habría que leerlos antes.
El libro me atrapó fácil, partiendo porque lo narra un personaje femenino. Angel, además de ser adicta a las metáforas es una mujer culta, estudiosa, profesional y pasa que es nuera del obispo Timothy Archer. Ella narra, cavila y construye en parte la transmigración de Tim. Tim es un hombre admirable, per
Mary Jo Malo
This is a brilliant series of novels woven together as a trilogy with a non-apparent thread. Full of compassion, spirituality, madness, humor, the eerie, and truly prophetic technology, this is science fiction I can unapologetically embrace. I'm embarrassed to have never read them earlier, but I don't think I had the requisite philosophical, literary, religious and current technology experiences to fully appreciate them. Yet they are a feast entirely consumed in a couple sittings. Each part of t ...more
Apr 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A criticism often levelled at Dick is that his female characters are badly written, and it’s hard to deny it. Particularly in his earlier work, the female characters, when they exist at all, are an amalgamation of every dreadful trope regarding women in popular fiction. They are poorly developed, flimsy. They are nagging wives, whores, and addicts. The lecturer who took the SF module I did at uni (we read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which is a fairly tame offender) pointed to his succe ...more
Diego Saldarriaga
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great Typical P.K Dick.

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Science Fiction A...: * #3 Valis- The Transmigration of Timothy Archer 5 15 Oct 04, 2018 04:20AM  
  • Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick
  • Fourth Mansions
  • The Jagged Orbit
  • Deserted Cities of the Heart
  • The Embedding
  • Even the Queen: & Other Short Stories
  • 334
  • The Dreaming Jewels
  • I Am Alive and You Are Dead: A Journey into the Mind of Philip K. Dick
  • Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
  • Juniper Time
  • The Computer Connection
  • The Masks of Time
  • Against Infinity (Jupiter Project, #2)
  • Nova Express (The Nova Trilogy, #3)
  • Temporary Agency (Unquenchable Fire, #2)
  • The Byworlder
  • The Silent Strength of Stones (Chapel Hollow #2)
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

Other books in the series

VALIS Trilogy (3 books)
  • VALIS (VALIS Trilogy, #1)
  • The Divine Invasion
“No single thing abides; and all things are fucked up.” 252 likes
“Just because something bears the aspect of the inevitable one should not, therefore, go along willingly with it.” 173 likes
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