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Counter-Clock World

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  4,226 ratings  ·  306 reviews
In Counter-Clock World, one of the most theologically probing of all of Dick’s books, the world has entered the Hobart Phase — a vast sidereal process in which time moves in reverse. As a result, libraries are busy eradicating books, copulation signifies the end of pregnancy, people greet with, “Good-bye,” and part with, “Hello,” and underneath the world’s tombstones, the ...more
Paperback, 218 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Vintage (first published February 1967)
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Rachel I may be wrong but I believe that it's human excrement. In the same way that they say "food" as a curse and plop it out of their mouths in the morning…moreI may be wrong but I believe that it's human excrement. In the same way that they say "food" as a curse and plop it out of their mouths in the morning, people anally consume sogum (poop) of different flavours. Sounds like it's often a communal affair as well. (blech)(less)

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Average rating 3.55  · 
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Nov 01, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
.good pretty is Memento Nolan's .screen the on best works it think I ,though Really .this do to way interesting more much a clearly it's but ,Arrow Time's Amis's of fan huge a not I'm .drink and food for Similarly .discard then you cigarette a into unsmoke you which air smoky of packs large buy you ,cigarettes buy don't you example for so ,time backward and forward of mixture incoherent of sort a there's that is problem The .novel successful most Dick's isn't really this but ,while a for amusing ...more
Mar 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Meh, I'm rounding down because even tho Bishop Pike is a big deal in this one as he was in the Transmigration of Timothy Archer (through a mirror darkly), the basic premise behind THIS book is pretty strong and should have been explored more fully.

I mean, look, PKD had a great thing going here now that newly dead peeps are coming back alive in their graves and clawing their way out, living full lives before they find a womb to crawl back into. This is a THING now. Long dead peeps are coming back
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick's short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.

Time moves b
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, scifi, american, 2015
Place there is none; we go backward and forward, and there is no place.
-- St. Augustine.


"Sic igitur magni quoque circum moenia mundi expugnata dabunt labem putresque ruinas (So likewise the walls of the great universe assailed on all sides shall suffer decay, and fall into ruin."
-- Lucretius, Book ii 1144 1145.

I SAW God. Do you doubt it?
Do you dare to doubt it?
I saw the Almighty Man. His hand
Was resting on a mountain, and
He looked upon the World and all about it: 5
I saw him plainer th
Counter-Clock World is weird because of how very NOT weird it is. That probably won't make a whole lot of sense if you're not familiar with a lot of what PKD was cranking out in the 60s. This was during his most prolific period as an author (more than half of his 44 novels were published between 1960-1969), and the majority of those books feature what I'm going to call the Dick Click (for lack of a better term).

You start reading almost any novel by Dick and for the first 50-100 pages you're pret
Dec 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, the-60s

Middle-of-the-road PKD, which for me is still enjoyable. Memorable mostly for the concept; I remember reading the synopsis on the back of the book aloud to a friend ("copulation signals the end of pregnancy, people greet with 'good-bye' and part with 'hello'..."), and both of us just laughing. My friend shook his head with admiration: "I think this is one of the most ridiculous ideas he ever had."

And yet what stands out in my memory is the strange pathos of the main character's job, patrolling t
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gregg_press-own
New introduction by David G. Hartwell.

Text offset from that of the 1967 Berkley edition.

Expansion of the novella "Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday", (Amazing, 1966).

Note: This is not a library copy.
Kat  Hooper
Jun 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
3.5 stars. Originally posted at

It’s 1998 and time has started running backward. Aging has reversed so that people are gradually getting younger, and dead people are awakening in their graves and begging to be let out. The excavating companies have the rights to sell the people they unbury to the highest bidder. When Sebastian Hermes’s small excavating company realizes that Thomas Peak, a famous religious prophet, is about to come back to life, they know that getting to
Feb 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
An interesting sci-fi noir fantasy-dystopia, where biological time flows backwards but not life itself. Nor history. People growing young make new mistakes (or at least variations on their old mistakes) and the world finds new ways to spin itself into the abyss (or at least tumble into deeper fissures).

PKD hits the usual sweet spots with his sour take on marital fidelity, race relations (with characters based oh-so-thinly on MLK Jr. and Malcolm X) and, always a fan favorite, the Uncanny Valley
Jan 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spec-fiction, 2011
So, this is what classic SF looks like. Sorry, but I can't see why Dick made it so big. His characters are laughably false -- particularly the women. I'd be insulted if it wasn't so ridiculous. As for the plot: almost as laughable. As for the whole idea behind the story: this is worth 2 stars.

Time has reversed, meaning the dead are rising, living their lives over and disappearing into the nearest available womb. When a dead guru begins to stir it seems everyone is interested in his resurrection:
Apr 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those Philip K. Dick novels that has a fascinating premise but is perhaps a little too hard for the author to handle at this developing time in his career. There are some really nice philosophical turns throughout but the concept may be a little too strange and artificial. For anyone else this would be a four star book but Dick has written better.

.ǫninniǫɘd ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫnibnɘ bnɒ bnɘ ɘʜƚ ƚɒ ǫniƚɿɒƚƨ ,ƨiʜƚ ɘʞil ƚi ɘƚoɿw ɘvɒʜ bluoʜƨ ɘʜ ǫniʞniʜƚ qɘɘʞ I ,noiƚnɘm oƚ ƚoИ

But then, I'm weird.
39 again - against
64 runnel - tunnel
78 thoughtly - thought
95 yerself - herself

Great mash of tackiness & random citations
Scott Holstad
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, philip-k-dick
This is a three star book I'm giving four stars to because of its originality. Dick is an author unlike any other. He can definitely come up with some unique stuff. This isn't Dick's best book, but it's not bad. The premise is interesting. Due to the mysterious Hobart Phase, everything on Earth is moving backwards now, as of the 1980s (this world is in the late 1990s). Dead people wake up and are unearthed by companies who sell them to the highest bidder. The fact that relatives never seem to bi ...more
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This wasn't bad for a short, quick read. Obviously it wasn't Dick's finest hour, but I do give him props for exploring ideas that no other author at the time even bothered exploring. However, it doesn't seem like his ideas were always well-executed, which was the case with Counter-Clock World. The idea of time reversing itself was what drew me into the book, but it didn't live up to its expectations. It sounded intriguing, yes, but I just felt that Dick didn't take advantage of the potential he ...more
Perry Whitford
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a post-WWIV society (which began in, er, 1986) time starts to reverse by a phenomenon entitled the Hobart Phase, where the living grow younger by the day and the dead come back to life, requiring their exhumation by trained experts.

Sebastian Hermes owns one such Vitarium, as well as being a resurrectee. He legally owns the bodies he revives, selling them to either family or to the highest bidder. When he exhumes an influential spiritual leader, known as the Anarch Peak, he finds himself tradi
Daniel Reyes
Jan 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This is one of the strangest stories I have read, set in a world where time has reversed itself and the dead are coming back to life, books are being unwritten, food is no longer ingested but disgorged, and in general, as the title of the book suggests the world has started to move counter-clockwise. The real impact of this story however is in the philosophical and theological issues addressed by the characters, and the profound impact that mass resurrection has had on religious doctrine.

Darran Mclaughlin
Philip K. Dick gets a lot of respect from writers and critics from both inside and outside the Science Fiction establishment. This is the fourth book by him I have read and I am still astonished by what a bad writer he is. He has interesting ideas, and The Man In The High Castle was a good novel, but his prose is Dan Brown bad and his characterization is less subtle and three dimensional than The Bold And The Beautiful, or any bad soap opera you care to mention. I have enjoyed the film adaptatio ...more
Ed Erwin
For Dick fans only.

Like even the best of Dick, this has leaden dialogue and flat characters.

Like even the worst of Dick, this has interesting ideas, plot twists and reversals, and puts characters in interesting situations.

The central principle, that the dead come back and age backwards -- disgorging food instead of eating it, un-smoking cigarettes, etc., -- is preposterous. But it does lead to some interesting new insults, such as mouth-hole!

If you are already a fan of Dick, there is no reason y
Trevor Seigler
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another PKD for me, my first of the New Year (well, technically my last of the previous year, but semantics). Set in (you guessed it) a dystopian future where the United States is divided into three separate zones on account of racial unrest in the late Sixties, "Counter-Clock World" has a very interesting premise: a means of reversing time (called "the Hobart Effect" after the scientist who discovered it) causes people to age backwards (and those who had previously be dead to revive). Think "Th ...more
Eszter Szép
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really appreciated the dark beginning and the dark undertone of the book: people are coming back from the dead as a result of a fucked up Apocalypse and due to a strange reversal of time. The details of how reversed time affects social interactions and institutions are amazing and grotesquely funny. The old-borns, having climbed out of their coffins, get younger and younger and have a second chance to live. But humans are just as petty and miserable and power-hungry. Here, again, religion is c ...more
Bob Schnell
Written in 1967, "Counter-Clock World" takes place in a future where time is going backwards. Dead awaken in their graves, grow younger and eventually go back to the womb to be absorbed. It is an interesting concept but a bit confusing the way it is presented. Events move forward in time, people don't relive their lives in reverse, yet they blow smoke into cigarettes that get longer and regurgitate past meals. The real point of the story is how society would deal with a major religious figure co ...more
Dane Cobain
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was fascinating because it basically follows the events that take place after time starts running backwards and people start coming back to life in their graves. There are other people whose job it is to go and dig them up again, and we follow what happens to them when a notorious black civil rights leader is due to return.

What’s fascinating to me is that the book was written in 1967 and published in 1968, and yet it so perfectly captures the civil rights movement that it’s almost eeri
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It took me 20 books before I read a PKD that I didn’t think much of. The gimmick here is a bit cheesy and also utterly inconsistent. The plot is pulp but without any interesting probings into PKD’s typical themes and concerns. I would not recommend this to anyone, besides PKD completionists. There may be some value to be found analyzing this from a race relations perspective, given its mention of the 1965 Watts riots towards the end (and being written only 2 years after that), but any time spent ...more
Simon Mcleish
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in July 2002.

In general, Dick's novels contain a dazzling multiplicity of ideas; but Counter-Clock World is dominated by just one and careful limits are placed on how fully it is explored. It is in many ways (dictated by its theme) similar to Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake. There, people relive a decade of their lives, fully conscious that they have already experienced what they are going through; here, time has suddenly reversed.

Dick doesn't go to the extent of r
Patrick Nichols
Jan 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Phillip K. Dick must be the Forrest Gump of running with a premise. In this perplexing muddle, the flow of time has reversed and the dead are coming back to life. Well, sort of. Sebastian Hermes' job is to loiter around cemeteries and disinterestedly disinter the recently undeceased. Apparently this entails a lot of paperwork; and PKD is fairly relentless in detailing the economics of undeath. The time reversal aspect is more of an afterthought; aside from the fact that everyone is getting young ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very interesting book with a creepy ending. Sometime in the 1980s time had started going backwards on Earth (Mars was still ok) so dead people were coming back from the dead and ageing backwards (while people who hadn't died also started ageing backwards). The premise was odd, and probably because of Red Dwarf, a bit silly in places. But nonetheless it was an interesting story. I think my favourite idea was the evil library that was intent on destroying all information, eradicating knowledge f ...more
May 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Actually kind of a crappy story, but the idea is fantastic: a world in which time is moving backwards. People begin their lives buried in cemeteries and have to be dug up before they suffocate. They regurgitate their food and put it back in the refrigerator. Before they get into bed every morning, they use a razor which puts stubble on their faces and legs. People get younger and younger and eventually turn into babies and crawl into their mothers. Nine months later (or earlier) their mothers ha ...more
Dec 09, 2009 rated it liked it
One of the better Philip K. Dicks, although I don't think it cracks my top five. The setting is very unusual: near future, where people age in reverse so they come alive in their graves and have to be dug out. They then get progressively younger until they become babies and need someone to take care of them. Lots of things happen in reverse, although why is not always explained, such as libraries gradually eliminating books over time, smokers puffing smoke into cigarette butts to make them whole ...more
Nov 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Yet another PKD novel which, despite the fact that his strange universe makes little logical sense and fails to obey its own rules, still captivates you to the point where you simply do not care about any of that: it simply becomes another way for the characters to question their own sense of reality, of existence, and what they want. In that sense it kept me intrigued from page one, and continued to do so all the way through to the (unusually sad for PKD) ending. Any complaints against the nove ...more
Feb 22, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This book deserves more than the 3 stars I gave it. It's pretty good; better than your average read why have I done this?

Well, because as far as I can tell, the central premise doesn't really make any sense. You have people who are living from old age to youth, actively doing some things backwards (disgorging instead of eating) but in many other ways actively doing things forwards. (People get shot. Shouldn't people be pulling bullets out of them instead?)

Regardless of this, the
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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

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