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Dr. Futurity

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  1,926 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Jim Parsons is a talented doctor, skilled at the most advanced medical techniques and dedicated to saving lives. But after a bizarre road accident leaves him hundreds of years in the future, Parsons is horrified to discover an incredibly advanced civilization that zealously embraces death. Now, he is caught between his own instincts and training as a healer and a society w ...more
Paperback, 169 pages
Published August 9th 2005 by Vintage (first published February 1960)
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Average rating 3.47  · 
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 ·  1,926 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Glenn Russell

Tales of time travel have been around for hundreds of years. Perhaps the best known work within the world of science fiction is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. In addition to Wells' tale of an Edwardian scientist battling the Morlocks in the distant future, my personal favorites are 1) Return from the Stars by Stanisław Lem published in 1961 and featuring an astronaut returning to Earth more than one hundred years into the future to find a utopian society based on universal medical procedure to
Susan Budd
Dr. Futurity marks phase two of my PKD reading project. I just finished the last of Dick’s 1950’s novels and I’m entering the 60’s.

Reading those early novels was good preparation for this one. I feel like Dr. Futurity is inferior to those novels, but I want to appreciate it as much as possible despite its flaws. There are really two stories here that are loosely stitched together and I’m okay with that. Dick has pulled it off before. It works well enough in The World Jones Made, which is four s
Nov 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, scifi, american, fiction
"There was simply no complete theory about time, he realized. No hypothesis by which results could be anticipated. Only experiment -- and guesswork."
- Philip K. Dick, Dr. Futurity.


One of the most "traditionally" SF novels PKD has written. This is largely due, obviously, to it being early in the PKD's output. Dr. Futurity was published in 1960 and was his 7th published novel (after Time Out of Joint and before Vulcan's Hammer).

In this novel Dick explore basic ideas of time travel, complete with
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Back in the day, Ace books released a paperback with TWO sci-fi gems contained for our reading pleasure. Ace doubles. In 1960, Ace published Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Futurity in an Ace Double; flip the book over and upside down and John Brenner’s Slavers of Space was on the other side.

Dr. Futurity is an honest to God time travel book by PKD, with all the necessary kooky eccentricities that Phil brings to any work. Fans will recall other alternate history fantasies like The Crack in Space and The Wor
Feb 10, 2017 rated it liked it
As I mentioned in my review of Philip K. Dick's 1960 novel "Vulcan's Hammer," by 1959, the future Hugo winner was feeling decidedly disenchanted with science fiction in general, despite having had published some 85 short stories and half a dozen novels in that genre. The author, it seems, was still pinning his hopes on becoming a more "respectable," mainstream writer, and had indeed already completed nine such novels: "Return to Lilliput," "Pilgrim on the Hill" and "A Time for George Stavros" ar ...more
I love the way the book started and got really excited when Parsons was sentenced to be exiled to Mars, but, sadly, he never made it and the rest of the book turned into a big mess. I've never been a huge fan of time traveling stories in the first place and this one was no exception, no matter how much I connect with PKD's writing style. Oh well, I can't love all of his novels.
Jun 27, 2015 rated it did not like it
This book inspired me to write a song. It goes a little like this:

Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Put 'em together and what have you got
A far more coherent statement than this book
Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi-bobbidi-boo
Not even magic can salvage this work

Jan 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
A time travel meditation, tinged with typical Dickian aesthetics. A doctor from 1998 (30 years in the author's future) travels forward to 2500 only to find a world where doctors are outlawed in favor of institutionalized euthanasia. Here, he becomes involved in a neo-Native-American plot to travel back to the 16th century to assassinate Sir Francis Drake when he docks near San Fransisco in 1597. Is it possible to change the past? Yes, but as we discover, only if you've already changed it...
It gets the extra star only because I don't have the heart to give a 1-star rating to a Dick novel. I still can't believe this was actually written by the author of Do Androids dream of electric sheep, The man in the high castle and so many other books I've loved. It was like reading a ten-year-old kid's effort in creative writing. I'll blame it partly on the translation and partly on the fact that it was one of his earlier novels.
Dec 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Like Vulcan's Hammer, this is a better-than-usual Philip K. Dick book. As is usual with Philip K. Dick, the book is not really about its premise. Once you get to know his writing, you simply enjoy the ride because the story goes where the characters would take it if they were real people. In this case, the premise IS interesting: a society of people who don't believe in doctors, so there's no recovery from significant physical traumas. Dick's vision of what such a society would look like works f ...more
Jan 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Ben Loory
Shelves: read-2012
Only PKD can take the element of time travel to a level that is not cliche. As with some of his other sci-fi books, you tend to forget you're reading science fiction and find yourself just reading brilliant fiction.

Dr Jim Parsons is in a car accident and finds himself in a future society. But is there truly a future, present, or past? Or do we all just live in a space that time alters?

The shupo's are like the young children of the Chinese cultural revolution. I don't think that was an accident o
ashley c
A doctor was brought many many years into the future by a mysterious force. There, he lands painfully and unceremoniously in the middle of nowhere, and found himself in the middle of a highway. A car drives towards him - he's saved! Or maybe not - he had to leap rather quickly out of the way as the car attempted to plow him down. Eventually he made his way into the city, where he tried to save a dying girl, but was immediately branded a pervert for committing such a heinous crime.

PKD's quirkine
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
A typical early Dick novel, "Dr. Futurity" immediately makes the reader uncomfortable by describing a future where death is the most important aspect of life, the government controls procreating and tribal factions fracture societies.

This is almost two different short novels. The first concerns the ethics of saving a life and whether (in this case) a doctor is in wrong for saving a life even is he doesn't know that's illegal.

Then the book takes a left turn down time-travel avenue and it goes co
Volodymyr Yatsevsky
Jun 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Very tight short story of time loops and traveling. Has a nice dystopian concept, but none too fancy. Gas some plot twists, but becomes very much predictable.
Davide Nole
I'm not a huge fan of time-travel as a topic, because I feel like it's impossible on a theoretical level, and most of the authors simply mess around with it too much.
That said, I think PKD did an amazing job with this book, taking into account a great bundle of ethical and social questions that, in the 1950s were not as developed as we may say are now.

So, it was a really good book. I'm really sad I didn't quite enjoy the story just as much as the topic and the themes, so I didn't really enjoy th
Tatiana Dengo
Apr 23, 2014 rated it liked it
One of the only two PKD books I've read that explains everything in detail and doesn't leave you floating along a disorienting miasma.

This is a story of time travel reminiscent of a knotted bowl of spaghetti. Dr. Parsons starts off as an admirable man, but is quickly thrust into events that are unfairly, and widely out of his control; and have been from centuries before his birth, AND after his death.

For the first half of the book, it seems like the story will focus on a future society's unnatu
This was an early Philip K Dick novel written in 1959. It was a bit more ordinary than most of his later novels. It followed a man who was brought forward in time to a distopian future where death was highly prized and euthanasia was practised so that the average age was 15. It was a very different take on a distopian society, but (I'm guessing cause it was the 50s) the society was also terribly misogynistic for no reason, women were sex slaves, in relationships they couldn't leave, were able to ...more
Pickle Farmer
Dec 22, 2011 rated it liked it
This book takes you to very surprising places. The summary on the bookjacket is a bit misleading. At first you think this book is going to be kind of lame, with a story that's more suited to a plot that belongs in a short story rather than a novel. You're like, OK, so the main character get teleported to a society where death is worshipped as opposed to life. No wonder someone tried to run him over in the opening chapter. But then, as I stated earlier, Dick takes us to very unexpected places, in ...more
Jonathon Jones
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this book in about half a day, so it is definitely engaging. For my money, the most interesting bits were the ideas around this new society, in which death is a value more than life, and certainly more valuable than life with any sort of disability. There are interesting notions here around progress and value that are worth exploring, and I look forward to spending some time thinking through them.

The book, however, decides to stop worrying about these issues pretty quickly, and instead mo
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Easily the best book I have ever read about time travel. Only a genuine paranoid like Philip K. Dick could see in advance the many wrinkles and contradictions possible if time travel were a reality. Without giving the plot away, I will say that one could easily run into oneself coming and going and getting all mixed up in the process. The Starship Enterprise's transporter problems pale in comparison.

I will leave you with this one situation: Imagine the descendants of American Indians hundreds of
Charles Dee Mitchell
Mar 06, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
I hope Phil was able to pay some bills with whatever money he got from this. It is filled with the kind of prose that sounds like the author is thinking through what his character might do next, making notes rather than telling a story. This one if definitely for completists only.
Richard Kearney
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dick's second science-fiction novel (written in 1953) is the first of several in which he employs time travel as an integral component of plot development. The elaborate plot revolves around the adventures of the novel's protagonist, Dr. Jim Parsons, who is unwittingly plucked from his own time and transported several centuries into the future, where he discovers a society remarkably transformed both in genetic composition and in culture. Much to his dismay, he learns that his own profession of ...more
Angus McKeogh
Aug 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Definitely a more formulaic book. Almost written seemingly in two parts. The opening a really interesting account of a doctor lost in the future where his skills are not so necessary. Then sort of a time traveling jaunt in the second part. Certainly easy to pick out as one of Dick’s older paperback originals. Not his best by any means, but enjoyable and a good read nonetheless.
David Agranoff
Read this book for the The Dickheads podcast. I liked this much more than my co-hosts. You'll have to listen to the review.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
TONS OF SEXISM AND BAD WRITING. I picked up Dr. Futurity expecting a light summer scifi read. Instead I got a thick sack of pulp scifi with zero character development. I read only half the book - quarter of it with genuine interest and the next quarter just to see how bad can it be. This book is morally backwards even for the time it was published (1960), considering the suffragist movement and the elaborate and historic fight for equality. Dick manages to be a dick about women's rights 400 year ...more
Brendan Kraus
Dr. Futurity is generally considered PKD's worst science fiction novel and it's easy to see why.

This and Vulcans Hammer (considered his other worst) were both written during a time when he was very uninterested in the genre and trying to explore other avenues. Additionally both don't deal with his usual themes and play like more mainstream fare. Not hard to see that both were written to pay the bills. Hell neither are actually original, both are him taking short stories and turning them into nov
Perry Whitford
Dr. Futurity begins in classic Philip K Dick fashion, with a man abruptly removed from the reality he has known all his life and thrust into a new one - in this case the very different reality of the future, the year 2405.

Populated by young, healthy, multiracial peoples whose society is split into totemic tribes, things start badly enough for him. Then, to his amazement, they only get worse after he uses his skills as a doctor to save a life.

That's because the world he has been brought forward
Jun 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I do enjoy the way in which Dick tips the conventional ideas of a utopian future on their head - this isn't the most fantastic of his novels, and it definitely would have benefited from a bit more depth at times, but I liked it all the same.

Of those I've read recently, Galactic Pot-Healer seems to have been the most bizarre and memorable of Dick's. I may need to revisit that particular review. It's such a strange little novel! I've really enjoyed reading through his library this year - so many b
Matthew Galloway
This was a strange little novel. I don't know that it stood the test of time too well, even though it would have been pretty progressive for it's time. Some of his writing -- particularly about women -- wouldn't stand up to modern views at all.

Otherwise, his ideas of the ways in which time is immutable vs changeable were quite fascinating and I rather wish the scheme had succeeded so we'd get to experience the fallout (for good or ill).

As always, MacLeod Andrews narrates excellently with his a
Robyn Blaber
For me, time travel is perhaps a little like sports. I like doing it, but I don't like watching. Our hero teleports to the future where everything is just a little too well controlled... and... well like in all time travel novels, the hero gets back to his "own" time and really hasn't changed anything. Whew!
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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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