A Scanner Darkly
“Dick is Thoreau plus the death of the American dream.”—Roberto Bolaño
Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it
Hank…more I had the same question upon seeing the movie recently (after having read the book first). I paused the movie and went straight to the bookshelf.
Hank was Fred's/Bob's superior at the county level; Donna was a federal operative. Technically, the book doesn't exclude the possibility, but it's not explicit in the text. The movie twist of revealing Donna-as-Hank is a cleverly compressed 30-second movie element, where the book unfolds her undercover status in a more protracted way.(less) (hide spoiler)]
Originally published in 1977 and set in the mid ‘90s, the book tells the story of Bob Arctor. Arctor appears to be just another burned out druggie who lives with a couple of other dopers, and they spend most of their time getting high on Substance D and assorted other drugs. Bob is actually an undercover ...more
“I have seen myself backward.”
― Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick's searing, hyperrealist tale of a specific time (late 1960s), a specific place (California), and a specific mentality (seek maximum happiness now since tomorrow you might die) set in 1994, enough in the near future for the author to inject massive doses of his signature wild imagination into the mix. As most readers will know, director Richard Linklater employed distinctive digital technology and ...more
In 1971, Philip K Dick's fourth wife, Nancy, left him and took their little daughter with her. Dick was left alone in a four-bedroom house in Santa Venetia, ‘in a state of complete desolation and despair, and suicidally depressed’, as he later put it. In an attempt to surround himself with life and activity, he turned the property into a kind of open house for what he called ‘street people’ –drug-users that he knew through his amphetamine habit, although many of them were on much harder drugs ...more
Take the cash and let the credit GO
I'll write MY review tomorrow.
Let US all be happy.
And play AGAIN.
So, I wrote a review I was really proud of today during lunch. Four or five paragraphs. I liked it a lot. So, I was rather disheartened when my computer froze and I had to do a hard-boot to unfreeze it. Lost everything but the vague outlines of what I wrote. Even those vague outlines seem difficult to grasp right now. I'm kinda ...more
Who am I? : "A Scanner Darkly" by Philip K. Dick
I'm a big Pynchon fan, too, so don't get me wrong here, but it seems to me like the main difference between Dick's writing style and Pynchon's--or at least, the difference that mostly accounts for Dick being treated as a "pulp" author with some interesting ideas whereas Pynchon is considered a major "literary" figure--is simply that Dick tends to write in crisp, straightforward sentences ...more
I'm continually surprised, now with my third read, how much fun I have with this novel. How much fun I have with the bugs. Or how much fun I have with the missing gears on the bike. Or how much fun I have with Bob, Fred, or whoever the hell the main character is. :) By the end, he is entirely nameless.
I think, more than anything, I love the philosophy that is snuck in at random moments or explored in long stretches without a direct reference. PKD's afterward is very ...more
Philip K. Dick’s darkly atmospheric novel about drug culture and how drugs affect society is a well written, impactful story. It’s a realistic view of how drugs affect the mind and relationships.
The story follows the character of Bob and his friends, who are both using and selling a mind-bending drug called Substance D. We also follow Fred, a cop who works for a form of drug bust squad. The hook is that Bob and ...more
Not even February and I’m already behind on 2018’s reviews. Good thing I didn’t tell myself I’d lose weight! The one thing I have always told myself is I need to read a Philip K. Dick story. Imagine my surprise when I cued this one up on the ol’ Fiat’s Bluetooth and heard that it was written by Philip K. Dick. I’m not sure one book can be a quantifier for his entire set of works, but in the immortal words of Larry David, this was . . . ...more
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
If you were choosing any Hollywood actor to narrate an audiobook of PKD about dope users in Southern California in the early 1970s, who would you choose? Random House Audio got Paul Giamatti to read A Scanner Darkly, and who could better? I tried to distill the vibe of the book in the following passage I assembled on my own. Imagine him reading it if you will:
Hey man, it’s not easy for a doper ...more
A Scanner Darkly is one of his early 70s books and I find it ...more
One day I figure out all of a Philip K. Dick novel. Ah, who am I kidding, lol. Truthfully, I like the challenge. Love the ideas. The guy was brilliant. But let me tell you, some of the situations and conversations I experienced in this book could possibly be the wildest I’ve come across – since reading my last Dick novel. In an epilogue, he offers his reason for writing A Scanner Darkly. It is poignant to say the least. He adds that there is no moral to ...more
The .gif summation:
Recipe for A Scanner Darkly:
1. Take moderate amounts of the drug of your choice (recommend one with highly hallucinogenic and paranoiac qualities)
2. Allow to simmer while reading Less Than Zero
3. Stir in a random amount of a second drug (preferably one with potential for permanent ...more
Before reading this book, I had no idea what I ...more
But there is a serious side:
In the novel, Fred’s mind and brain are regularly tested by police department psychologists, owing to the stress of both maintaining a dual identity, and taking drugs as part of his undercover life. Dick avoids the off-the-shelf cliché’s of ink-blots and electric shocks, as the author describes realistic test scenarios and recognisable neuropsychological tests. Worryingly for Fred, the
One of my all-time favorites.
I've been planning to re-review this book, but it seems that a lot of people really enjoy the old review...but I do hope that you guys can enjoy this new review, because I feel that I scratched the surface when I did my first review on this book.
I'm not easily impressed when it comes to science fiction. I love the genre, yet I hate where the genre has gone, either becoming rip offs of older, superior material, or YA romps that focus on teenage drama rather than the ideas that ...more
This book is simultaneously hilarious and heart breaking and it is a really excellent ...more
Phillip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly follows the journey of Bob Arctor, an undercover police officer (code-named "Fred") trying to ingratiate himself into the drug culture in an attempt to bring down the suppliers of Substance D, a highly addictive mind-altering drug that can eventually cause permanent brain damage. Tragically, Arctor himself becomes an addict, first only taking Substance D to earn the ...more
'A Scanner Darkly' by Philip K. Dick is a barely disguised expose of the world of druggies. The science fiction elements in the fictional plot are simply a platform PKD uses to write what is basically a polemical novel about the destruction of the body and brain from a hypothetical drug, Substance "D". The drug happens to mirror actual drug destruction from addictions.
I liked the ...more
The story itself is fantastically written and wonderfully weird in true PKD ...more
No narrative tension, the writing is awful (I would quote some of it as proof, but I already got rid of my copy), and the most potentially exciting elements of the book (drug subculture and its lingo and take on friendship, multiple identities) are handled with the zest and elegance of a cut-rate rectal exam. Does that analogy even make sense? I don't think so, but neither did this book.
I've heard this was the first book he wrote after he kicked ...more
I hadn't known (or didn't remember) that this was a story about drugs and addicts and perception and human personalities/identities. But it is. Boy, is it ever.
We follow a guy called "Fred" (spoiler alert: his real name probably isn't Fred). He meets a woman called Donna and a few other junkies. Fred, as we are shown, is a cop and trying to get to a major supplier in California. You see, the book takes place in a dystopian futuristic American society where the war on ...more
I seem to struggle with classic sci-fi, the last few have fallen flat for me. I like sci-fi but I felt like I was too sober for this one. I need to have had a road trip with Hunter S. Thompson for a few months beforehand to get into the mindset.
I think there were a lot of interesting ideas on this and the way drugs take a hold on someone's life. But I just didn't enjoy reading it and I guess that's why I read, for enjoyment. It's a good job it was short and I was able to plough through it. ...more