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Galactic Pot-Healer

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  4,419 ratings  ·  325 reviews

What could an omnipresent and seemingly omnipotent entity want with a humble pot-healer? Or with the dozens of other odd creatures it has lured to Plowman's Planet? And if the Glimmung is a god, are its ends positive or malign? Combining quixotic adventure, spine-chilling horror, and deliriously paranoid theology, Galactic Pot-Healer is a uniquely Dickian voyage to alterna

Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 1974 by Berkley (first published June 1969)
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Glenn Russell
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-books

I wonder if Philip K. Dick was familiar with the Q & A:
Q: Why do ducks fly over Cleveland upside down?
A: There's nothing worth crapping on.

I ask since this novel opens in dystopian Cleveland in the year 2046, a futuristic city where absolutely nothing is worth crapping on - it's totalitarian with a vengeance: state officials utilize sinister mind control techniques and a ruthless, intrusive police force maims, brutalizes and otherwise inflicts itself on the city's inhabitants at every turn.

Jun 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Philip K. Dick’s writing makes me smile. He’s like a weird, unorthodox friend who has a loud, goofy laugh that you cannot help joining in laughing yourself.

One of the most endearing themes of Phil’s work is his propensity to cast as protagonist an ordinary guy or gal. Small appliance repairman seems to be the occupation of modal frequency, but Galactic Pot Healer joins The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as a novel that features a ceramicist as the hero. A pot healer is one who rep
The story of Joe, a penniless pottery and ceramic mender whose main kick in life is playing odd wordgames with remote participants (online?).

Unexpectedly, he meets Glimmung, an ancient being endowed with almost boundless powers. Joe is offered to join him and partake in a massive, large-scale enterprise : help in restoring a flooded cathedral lying at the bottom of an otherwordly abyss, so as to restore order and harmony on an alien planet.

Arguably the bleakest and most melancholy poetical work
“No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.”
― Philip K. Dick, Galactic Pot-Healer


The idea of this book at first reminded me of the concept of Kintsukuroi (金繕い or golden repair). Kintsukuroi, essentially, is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. I was first exposed to this idea and unique art form years ago when I was reading about Wabi-Sabi. I hav
Feb 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Surprisingly coherent for Dick. Conspicuously absent are any mind altering drugs or paranoid conspiracies, the story revolving around themes of fatalism, yin & yang/universal balance, depression and the search for meaning in life. Equally profound and thought provoking as it is ridiculous and mind bending, as one would expect from Dick at his best.
How on earth do I begin to write about this one then?
I guess by saying, I thought it was wonderful.
I found it belly laugh funny in parts such as the commercial on the radio for Hardovax an impotence drug and the joke told to Joe, our main protagonist by Nurb K’ohl Dáq, a warmhearted bivalve.

“Here’s one they’re telling on Deneb four,” the bivalve said. “A freb whom we’ll call A is trying to sell a glank for fifty thousand burfles.” “What’s a freb?” Joe asked. “A kind of—” The bivalve undulated w
Jan 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
PKD books are never filled with sunshine and bunnies, but this one has one of the most depressing beginnings of any I've read so far. The protagonist is stuck in a meaningless bureaucratic job in a stagnant and oppressive uber-socialist future USA, and his only enjoyment (which has become a hollow enjoyment) is the playing of "The Game" with other bored cube-rats in other countries ("The Game", amusingly enough, involves feeding a computer translation of English into a another language back into ...more
Erich Franz Linner-Guzmann
As with all of the PKD books that I have read, there always seems to be underlying messages. The protagonist is Joe Fernwright and he is a pot healer that lives in a time on earth when ceramics are no longer used and is replaced by plastic. He passes his time by playing a meaningless word game with his co-workers in a struggling economy and that is something I can relate to.

The meaning of life is one of the underlying messages that stood out to me the most. Joe is contacted by Glimmung a flawed
Aug 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Philip K. Dick's 24th published sci-fi novel, the whimsically titled "Galactic Pot-Healer," first saw the light of day as a Berkley Medallion paperback in June 1969, with a cover price of 60 cents. It both followed up and preceded two of its author's finest and most beloved works, 1968's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and 1969's "Ubik," and if not in the same rarefied league as those two, remains a fine yet mystifying addition to the Dickian canon nevertheless. In the book, in the dystop ...more
David Anderson
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite of Dick's novels. At times it's funny as hell, an absolute riot. But it's also a mind bender, exploring issues of theology, such as various conceptions of the deity (the Glimmung is a deity I could warm up to, lol), and intertwined issues of philosophy, such as the concepts of fate and determinism and free will. And what a complement of bizarre alien life forms. Reminds me at times of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker's Guide (although I suppose it's really the other way around ...more
Galactic Pot-Healer is genial, charming nonsense...
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now that was a bizarre read.

There are so many persistent themes in Dick that I really enjoy... and a few that I don't:
-His fascination with decay and the destruction of form has taken so many different shapes in his novels. There seems to be a personal obsession with death, particularly suicide, embodied in many of his characters.
-He approached failure in a peculiar way - it seemed something of an expectation for him, and he makes it in to an entertaining spectacle in so many novels. In fact, hi
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Die-hard PKD fans
Recommended to Kitap by: Total Dick-Head (
Observe the success of Glimmung's aspirations. Emulate him, who in his Undertaking fought and destroyed the Book of the Kalends and thus the tyrannic rule of fate itself. Be creative. Work against fate. Try. (176)

Maybe that quote from the end sums up the novel, maybe not. Sometimes I think PKD's vision of each novel unfolded as he banged away at the typewriter for 36 hours straight, which is why so many loose ends simply drift off rather than get tied up. I'm coming to the conclusion that PKD in
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
7 'Rises' should be italicized
78 sherd - shard
99 'my tools' has two spaces between the words

Neat to see the Lies Inc ideas of Thingisms pop up for a paragraph, along with "The Book" which is updated everyday with what's about to happen in the near future

Glimmulg made for an interesting antagonist/protagonist. In a way his alien nature made his motives opaque enough to give controversy to build plot over the conflict of raising Heldscalla

Great Hardovax commercial, "Gosh, everyone's noticed." thro
John George
Dec 30, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love P.K. Dick, but this book was just absolutely ridiculous. Maybe I read it wrong, or read it half asleep or something, but it made not one lick of sense to me
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
I dragged this out of my monstrous pile of to-read because Le Guin, in the _Final Interview_ book, mentioned (not in these terms) that the Suck Fairy had gotten at a number of Dick's novels, and she was afraid to reread this one, a favorite. So I read it myself, and it's one of Dick's better books.

As is common with Dick, the protagonist is a working-class loser; in this case, Joe Fernwright, a mender (healer) of ceramics in a dismal "North American Citizens' Republic." This is a future with effi
Dec 04, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
While not one of Dick's better known books (probably for good reason), Galactic Pot-Healer still has some interesting elements that, in combination with its relatively short length, make it worth reading. The plot starts off simply enough; set in the future, Joe Fernwright is a pot-healer from a family of pot-healers, a popular profession after a war in the distant past shattered most of our the world's pottery. The problem is, after generations, most pots are fixed, and he's faced with a deep e ...more
Mad Dog
Jan 26, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only big PKD fans
This is a PKD book that I think is only for big PKD fans (like me). It is probably my 'least fave' book of PKDs. It is a very 'sci-fi-y' book with weird creatures, a dystopia, and takes place largely on another planet. I would categorize this book as 'sci-fi' and theological fiction. For vastly better theological fiction, I would recommend VALIS by PKD. VALIS combines both personal and theological elements very well (and is at least partially autobiographical fiction from PKD). You could really ...more
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read-books
In this three-worded title, we can sense the irony of a puny life. In the unmeasurable vastness, our life is a joke, our work a smaller one. Fatalistic nihilism seem to be the only decent attitude. What is the point? One may ask. Or better: what is your punchline?

This is not a lighter nor saner version of Hitchhikers’ Guide to Galaxy. The psychedelic laugher hovers in the margin, but this story is a serious and high-brow one. Several themes intertwines in this brisk tale.

The first is the meani
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this again as a nod to the memory of my one-time lover, best friend and confidante, the late Gina Holmes. I turned her onto it back in the mid-70's and it was one thing we discussed in depth. She'd been my friend for the better part of 35 years before passing away 2 years ago at the age of 50.

In retrospect, Dick seems to have looked into a fairly accurate crystal ball. In a "throw-away" society, nobody appreciates good craftsmanship anymore. Joe Fenwright, an itinerant war veteran, is one
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
What was Dick getting at with this novel? He's throws a lot at it, Faustian philosphy, flawed deities, collective consciousness, art as salvation, but not sure if any of it sticks. It's got this weird comic pulpy tone, and it's batshit crazy, not at all surprised that it was written during what Dick describes as a psychotic breakdown. Good fun though! ...more
Kilburn Adam
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basically a giant shape shifting, telepathic blob called Glimmung wants to raise a cathedral from under the sea on Plowman's Planet. And he asks Joe Fernwright who is a pot-healer to help him. This isn't PKD's best book, but it's nowhere near his worst either, and it's pretty short too. ...more
In Galactic Pot-Healer the always entertaining Philip K Dick tells us the tale of Joe Fernwright, a professional ceramic repair guy from a future Cleveland (2046 CE) who is recruited by an alien named Glimmung to travel to the planet Sirius Five to help him raise a cathedral from an underwater ocean. Joe is chosen as he is considered one of the best at restoring pottery in the galaxy by Glimmung, and Joe decides to go because he is running out of work due to the fact that plastics are taking ove ...more
David Allen
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's about ceramics, not leafy plants, but really it's about purpose, entropy and failure, as well as the benefits of banding together, much like the broken pots gloomy, passive Joe Fernwright mends. It's a modest 144 pages, in my edition, but it's got a lot of ideas. It's also very funny, like the robot who won't answer any question that doesn't begin with its name, Willis, until finally saying "to hell with it" and answering anyway. ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Should I just...try something else by this author, this one just really didn’t work for me.
David Agranoff
Recording a Dickheads podcast episode soon on this book so stay tuned.
Easton Chambers-Ozasky
Super weird and surprisingly funny? I forgot how much fun it is to read PKD.
Roddy Williams
Joe Fernwright is a pot healer - as was his his father before him - in a future totalitarian dystopia although his services are somewhat redundant since no one makes or breaks ceramics any more.
One day Joe gets a mysterious message offering him a job on Sirius V. The message turns out to be from an all powerful entity known as the Glimmung who is launching a project to raise a sunken cathedral from the ocean bed.
Being a Dick novel, things are not as straightforward as this synopsis would imply.
Julie Davis
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Jesse from SFFaudio
Latest Update:
I'm rereading this preparatory to this weekend's discussion with the SFFaudio podcast gang. I have to say the book definitely warrants two readings. The first time through I was rather overcome by the depressing world of Dick's creation. This is leavened somewhat by Dick's use of humor of all kinds, even wrapped in the depressing details of a life micro-managed by the government. However, the second time through, knowing the basic plot and resigned to the depressing world, the humo
Michael Bafford
Ursula K. LeGuin wrote a brief essay about Philip Kindred Dick which is presented in her critical volume: The Language of the Night. "The task of a writer who writes about madness from within is an appalling one... These are genuine reports from the other side, controlled by the intelligence and skill of an experienced novelist and illuminated by compassion..." She says earlier: "When in full control of his dangerous material, Dick has written at least five books which walk the high wire with gr ...more
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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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“No structure, even an artificial one, enjoys the process of entropy. It is the ultimate fate of everything, and everything resists it.” 99 likes
“Death is very close, he thought. When you think in this manner. I can feel it, he decided. How near I am. Nothing is killing me; I have no enemy, no antagonist; I am merely expiring, like a magazine subscription: month by month.” 24 likes
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