Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Man Who Japed” as Want to Read:
The Man Who Japed
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Man Who Japed

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,620 ratings  ·  174 reviews
In The Man Who Japed, a world that has survived a nuclear holocaust has given way to a rigid system of oppressive morality. Highly mobile and miniature robots monitor the behavior of every citizen, and the slightest transgression can spell personal doom. Allen Purcell is one of the few people who has the capacity to literally change the way of the world, and once he's offe ...more
Paperback, 168 pages
Published November 12th 2002 by Vintage (first published 1956)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Man Who Japed, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Man Who Japed

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,620 ratings  ·  174 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Man Who Japed
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If ever a Philip K. Dick novel needs to be made into a film by the Coen Brothers, it is The Man Who Japed.

This is Dick’s brilliant, quirky tribute to Dostoyevsky, I loved it.

In the VALIS trilogy, Dick demonstrated that he is a master at that most oblique of sub-genres, theological science fiction. Here, he displays his virtuosity with a swaggering, lighthearted tale of pranks and a solemn message, like a schizophrenic reading Shakespeare while listening to The Grateful Dead and watching Animal
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american, sci-fi
A Freudian Future

Sigmund Freud published his Civilization and Its Discontents in 1930. 25 years later P. K. Dick wrote The Man Who Japed. Both cover the same ground: the impossible paradox of an independent mind in a society which both promotes it and suppress it. And it looks like Dick liked what Freud had to say. Freud was concerned with the remarkable tendency of people, who ostensibly value their freedom, to band together in order to restrict not only other people’s freedom but also their ow
Glenn Russell

Wow! I was really taken by this early PKD.

Published in 1956 when the author was age twenty-eight, this post-nuclear devastation tale contains all sorts of ideas and themes as relevant today as back then. There’s so much going on, I’ll jump right to my top seven list a reader can look forward to when cracking the pages of The Man Who Japed. For both avid sf fans and all other readers, this novel is so worth it.

1. Newer York - New York City in the year 2114, decades following a worldwide nuclear
This is my seventh Philip K. Dick experience and this one stands with Clans of the Alphane Moon as one of the more comedic works of Dick's career.

Allen Purcell one day wakes up to find that he's "japed" a statue. Not just any statue, but the statue of the world's hero General Streiter, who formed our glorious totalitarian society. Why did he do it? Honestly, he has no clue... and it's extremely awkward, as he's just been offered a position to essentially create all future propaganda praising th
Susan Budd
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Man Who Japed teaches a lesson every New Yorker already knows: When you’ve got a halfway decent apartment, hold on to it at all costs.

It’s almost funny how prescient Dick was about apartments. The unit Allen and Janet Purcell live in could easily be a contemporary microapartment. And the space-saving automation that allows furniture to slip in and out of the living space is already being featured in some of the newly designed microapartments.

But of course, the tiny apartment is not the mai
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, scifi, american, fiction
“A term we use in packet assembly. When a theme is harped on too much you get parody. When we make fun of a stale theme we say we’ve japed it.”


“A term we use in packet assembly. When a theme is harped on too much you get parody. When we make fun of a stale theme we say we’ve japed it.”

In a post-apocalpyse world where you are tyrannized by not just your nation (aka the Moral Reclamation, or Morec), but your HOA, it is hard to be creative, to sin, to deviate from the norm. Enter Allen Purcell. Hi
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-shelf, sci-fi
This 50's PKD is a real keeper. I might really enjoy re-reading it in the next few years, but you know what I really want?

A MOVIE. This novel is a comedic GEM. It's funny as hell. A very McCarthy-era satire mixing post-apocalypse with uber-concerns with public morality in a paranoid state with tiny robots spying on everyone.

The witch-hunts never stopped.

And yet... a man with a sense of humor in the right place at the right time can change the world.

Not to spoil things, but car chases at 30 mile
Tristram Shandy
“In this room a man’s business was everybody’s business. Centuries of Christian confessional culminated when the block assembled to explore its members’ souls.”

There is a certain mixture of secularized Calvinism and quasi-theological political self-righteousness (or self-lefteousness) prevalent in our day and age that made Dick’s third novel, The Man Who Japed, quite an interesting text for me. Dick describes us a post-nuclear-war society, in which parts of the planet are apparently irretrievabl
Jonathan Briggs
Apr 19, 2012 rated it liked it
It's 2114, and Al Gore's vision has come to fruition: All art is sanitized for your protection; everything is bland and environmentally, ergonomically and politically correct. Yuppie-of-the-future Allen Purcell is set to take over as director of Telemedia, a giant edutainment conglomerate responsible for producing a steady diet of pap programming to keep the population from thinking too hard (sort of like Fox). Things are definitely looking up for Purcell and his heavily tranquilized wife, Janet ...more
Mad Men meets The Jetsons meets 1984. I think this would make an amazing Fifth Element style movie. Listening to the audiobook, the story was a little too crazy for me to really get into it. The narrator used cartoon voices for some of the side characters which threw me off, even though I see why it would work with this story.
This if Dick's third published novel and the third I've read from his body of work. Reading the books in chronological order has been interesting as I notice a few trends developing from book to book. Having read the first three novels, I'll now move into his later work with a sense of where Dick is coming from; specifically, from those strange, post-war years of 1950's California, where all is sunny and bright and prosperous on the surface, but underneath there is the fear of nuclear annihilati ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it

It is a post-nuclear war society run by a reactionary government that pushes a puritanical morality via the media. A Philip K Dick world if there ever was one. And this is only his third novel.

Jape is an intransitive verb meaning to say or do something jokingly or mockingly. Philip K Dick is a japer. It is also a transitive verb meaning to make mocking fun of. Alan Purcell, successful creator of propaganda, in a moment of madness, japes the statue of the current government's founder.

You can imag
Jim  Davis
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I've read a lot of PDK over the last 60 years and now that I am retired I decided to go back and try to read them all again in the order they were written, not published. I already read the 5 SF novels he wrote according to Wikipedia. I couldn't find a copy of the 6th novel "Eye in the Sky" so I jumped to this one. I now have a copy of "Eye in the Sky" and will read it next.

I found the novel slow going in the beginning. Like most SF novels of this time it
Kat  Hooper
Jul 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at

In 2114, Allen and Janet Purcell live in Newer York, a post-apocalyptic city that strictly regulates morality so that all citizens understand exactly how to fit in. Robotic spies film suspect behavior and turn it in to the committee members who are in charge of renting out apartments to law-abiding citizens. Citizens who get drunk, curse, or engage in sexual or other misconduct are brought to trial by the peers who live in their apartment complexes.
Charles Dee Mitchell
I was going to say that The Man Who Japed was for Philip K. Dick completists only, but then I read that in the mid 60's he considered it the best thing he had written to date. And this was after Man in the High Castle had won the Hugo Award.

I don't know why he was so fond of it. The Man Who Japed was originally half of an Ace Double, so it could almost pass as a novella. It is also just one of about five book-length works Dick wrote or put under copyright in 1956. Familiar PKD elements are all
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I haven't read Philip K. Dick in years, and so when a friend gave me his stack of PKD paperbacks I thought I would give it a shot. And then I waited two years to crack one.

I really loved this book for the way it tackled the absence of personality in authority. PKD manages to capture a troubling reality where people's social score is rooted in the absence of anything that would be considered normal humanity, so much so that a simple act of vandalism is an offense that can have one exiled and, eve
Patrick Nichols
Jan 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Dick completionists, anterograde amnesiacs, bedridden flaneurs
Shelves: science-fiction
First off, this is only worth contemplating if you're already a Phillip K Dick fan. You need to be previously inoculated against his usual stilted dialogue and ramshackle story construction to avoid wincing from time to time. Even the title aches like a string of celery stuck in my teeth - the man who japed?

It's one of his earliest novels, and it shows. I do love some of the novels he wrote in this period, from the Jodorowski-directing-an-episode-of-Twilight-Zone weirdness of "Eye in the Sky", t
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Cult sci-fi author Philip K. Dick's third novel, "The Man Who Japed," was originally published in one of those cute little "Ace doubles" (D-193, for all you collectors out there), back to back with E.C. Tubb's "The Space-Born," in 1956, and with a cover price of a whopping 35 cents. (Ed Emshwiller's cover for "The Man Who Japed" was his first of many for these beloved double deckers.) As in Dick's previous novel, "The World Jones Made" (1955), the story takes place on an Earth following a nuclea ...more
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: softcover, do-not-own
An great early work from PKD. Originally an Double ACE novel. It's a sort of a "give it to the man" kind of thing. A good fifties anti-establishment yarn written the way that only PKD could. It's packed with a bunch of cool (and comedic) ideas such as slow 30 mile per hour car-chases with nuke-pile driven steam cars that are steered by tiller and mini "juvenile" robots that report everything you might say and do to some kind of authority, mandatory weekly confessional tell-all meetings at you co ...more
Dec 17, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a quiet one, but its simple charm won me over.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
We listened to this as an audio book. It was written around the end of the McCarthy era and was somewhat reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 in some respects. The politics were still relevant today. However, I was disappointed (but not surprised) at the authors lack of imagination regarding women's role in society. (Ref: Isaac Asimov's Caves of Steel). This is a short book and is worth a read if you haven't read it before. ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
An early dystopian Dick novel set in a post-nuclear-war worldwide dictatorship. Very clear 1950s cold war influences, and very little of what people read Dick novels for. The protagonist's confusion at elements of the nature of his reality is either explained almost immediately, or never really adequately explained at all, and there's a plot twist that just seems ridiculous. Still, by the standards of 50s SF it's good and readable. ...more
Stephen Douglas Rowland
2½. Not very strong, but has its moments.
Scott Holstad
Dec 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, philip-k-dick
As Philip K Dick's third novel, this is a pretty solid effort. More linear than later works, it's about Allen and Janet Purcell, who live in Newer York in 2114. It's been 130 years since a nuclear war has destroyed much of the world, and thanks to a Major Streiter of years past, society now lives under Morec (Moral Reclamation), a prim and proper, puritanical society where one can't curse, get drunk, engage in pre or extramarital sex -- even neon lights are banned!

Allen is the head of his own sm
C.J. Bunce
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published online at

Allen Purcell, the protagonist in Philip K. Dick’s 1956 novel The Man Who Japed, unexpectedly reminded me of a character from a classic Hollywood film from 1955, Ensign Pulver, from John Ford’s comedy drama Mister Roberts. If you haven’t seen Mister Roberts or read The Man Who Japed, you’re missing out on two of the best comedic works from their respective creators.

A quick background on Mister Roberts. In the movie, Henry Fonda plays Lieutenant J.G. Robert
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
I really like Philip Dick, in spite of some of the weaknesses of his writing. This book is an excellent story about a future dystopia mired in a moral straightjacket. Allen Purcell finds himself in charge of Telemedia, the sole broadcast source in the Morec society. The book deals with what it means to be sane, humor as a humanizing element and a challenge to authoritarian regimes, the need for privacy, the perils of legislated or community-enforced morality, and many other subjects. It is relat ...more
Mar 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
I've become quite a fan of Philip K. Dick. His books never fail to fascinate me, and this was no exception. The Man Who Japed is one of his earlier novels (written in 1956), so it hasn't got quite the polish or the heavy-duty mind bending of his mature books, but it's still a good read. The story is set in a post-nuclear-holocaust future in which a repressive Moral Majority-type government has taken over society. The government constantly monitors the population via small insectoid robots called ...more
David Agranoff
PKD's third released novel is sci-fi take on communist China with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. The world building, characters and sci-fi humor are all top notch in this novel. PKD was coming into his own here. The ending was panned for being a rip-off of Swift's Modest Proposal and it sounds like rightly so. I didn't write a full review because we broke it down on the Dickheads podcast. For a full and detailed review listen here:

We are reading
Aug 25, 2008 rated it liked it
You can tell that this is one of Dick's earliest novels, the writing style is very weak compared to his later novels. However you still get the themes of social commentary and occasionally questioning the nature of reality and sanity that are such cornerstones of all P K Dick novels. Plot-wise this is a fairly good book with an interesting story, but as I said the writing style is off-putting. Something for an established P K Dick fan, but not if it's one of the first you read! ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Zomerhitte
  • Tussen Hamer En Aambeeld: Novelle
  • Astounding Science Fiction, October 1941
  • Filip's sonatine
  • Het mirakel
  • De dood van Murat Idrissi
  • Villa des Roses
  • Het stenen bruidsbed
  • Caliban's Hour
  • Casanova's Return to Venice
  • Camp Concentration
  • Fidessa
  • Heldere hemel
  • Isabelle
  • A Bed in Heaven
  • The Cool War
  • Ecstasy
  • Here and Now: Letters (2008-2011)
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

  It's time for our most out-of-this-world genre celebration! Join us as we explore speculative fiction's newest horizons.   ...
296 likes · 191 comments
“Odd that the brain could function on its own, without acquainting him with its purposes, its reasons. But the brain was an organ, like the spleen, heart, kidneys. And they went about their private activities. So why not the brain?” 27 likes
“Nella tua mente c'è qualcosa che nessun altro ha. Ma non si tratta di precognizione."
"Di cosa allora?"
"Hai senso dell'umorismo" fu la risposta di Gretchen.”
More quotes…