Apatt's Reviews > A Maze of Death

A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick
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it was amazing
bookshelves: sci-fi, pre-80s-sf

"Shall we go to bed?" Susie said.
"What?" he said.
"I'm interested in going to bed with you. I can't judge a man unless I've been in bed with him."
"What about women?"
"I can't judge them at all. What, do you think I go to bed with the women, too? That's depraved."


If you never read any PKD before you would probably think that is some damned awkward dialogue, but PKD veterans are more likely to think “Yay! It’s PKD!”. A Maze of Death is, for me, classic PKD, it has all the unique PKDesque things that I love about reading his fiction; weird, funny, surprising, and never a dull moment. A Maze of Death is apparently set in a universe where the existence of God has somehow been proven. The universally accepted religion is based on a book called “How I Rose From the Dead in My Spare Time and So Can You” by A. J. Specktowsky. The book’s title is obviously pretty funny, but for some reason, the author’s name also amused me. So in the universe of this book prayers actually work—when they are answered—and you would need to pray through some kind of transmitter, the process requires attaching conduits to the permanent electrodes extending from one's pineal gland; so just kneeling by your bed isn’t going to cut it.

The story starts with non-protagonist Ben Tallchief praying for a transfer from his boring job. Almost immediately a transfer order comes in and he is sent to a planet called Delmak-O to join thirteen other people on an unspecified colonization mission. Unfortunately, the communication system at Delmak-O fails so nobody knows what they are supposed to be doing. Soon the colonists start dropping dead one by one, almost And Then There Were None style, but the cause of death is clearly not a single psychopath. Gradually the truth about the planet and the mission dawns on the colonists and the plot takes a bizarre turn. That is enough synopsis I think, but it is worth mentioning that Delmak-O is full of some very strange critters, one species look like a miniaturized building, another is a gelatinous thing that makes copies of objects put in front of it, and several more, including weird flies and bees, that I won’t mention.

A Maze of Death literally got me through a very tough time as I was sick as a dog last week and slept poorly but the book kept my spirits up. One online review mentions that this is one of Dick’s darkest books and I find it quite delightful so I must have a warped psyche. The idea of “empirical theology” is quite intriguing; curiously it does not seem to make the characters behave any better toward each other. The book is more action-packed than a lot of PKDs, with aerial dogfights and an apocalyptic climax. There is even a major twist at the end, I won’t spoil it but it reminds me of an episode of Red Dwarf (though this book predates the TV series). Like most of PKD’s books, things are seldom what they seem and reality can take a left turn anytime. The same can be said of the characters, you never know what they are going to do next. As mentioned earlier the dialogue is often stilted and there is little in the way of characters development. However, I read PKD not for his literary art, but for the drug-free trips.

Not top tier PKD, I suppose, but I'll high five it!
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Note: You won't find many 5 stars rating for this book on GR, objectively it's probably not one of his finest, but subjectively I enjoyed the hell out of it. The best PKD for me remains Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, followed by Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.
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Reading Progress

September 3, 2016 – Started Reading
September 8, 2016 – Finished Reading
September 9, 2016 – Shelved
September 9, 2016 – Shelved as: sci-fi
September 9, 2016 – Shelved as: pre-80s-sf

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Kevin (last edited Sep 09, 2016 04:09AM) (new)

Kevin Ansbro An A-Maze-ing review, Apatt. Pfffft! Did you see what I did there? Oh, my sides! Phnarr, phnarr, titter!

Being a seasoned reader of PKD (admittedly just one book) I can already imagine the chucklesome lunacy of an ill-fated mission on planet Delmak-O.
While reading Ubik, I couldn't help but think of Red Dwarf, but didn't mention it as I imagined no-one outside of the UK had heard of the program. I now see that this was way off the mark!

Another entertaining review, Apatt.


message 2: by Apatt (last edited Sep 09, 2016 08:36AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Apatt Kevin wrote: "An A-Maze-ing review, Apatt. Pfffft! Did you see what I did there? Oh, my sides! Phnarr, phnarr, titter!

Being a seasoned reader of PKD (admittedly just one book) I can already imagine the chuckle..."


LOL! Thanks, Kevin. While I'm outside the UK I'm still into the UK, you know ;)
Have a gander at my And Then There were None, Agatha Christie review, maybe it will bring back memories.: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 3: by Cecily (new)

Cecily "Weird flies and bees which I won't mention"

But you did! :o

Anyway, Kevin is evidently up for more PKD after Ubik, which makes me feel guilty for not having read more of him in recent years. This sounds fun. Any better suggestions though?


Apatt Cecily wrote: ""Weird flies and bees which I won't mention"

But you did! :o

Anyway, Kevin is evidently up for more PKD after Ubik, which makes me feel guilty for not having read more of him in recent years. Thi..."


Since, for some eccentric reason, you won't read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which is my fave, I would recommend the next favorite Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, an uncharacteristically emotional book from him.


message 5: by Cecily (new)

Cecily No "eccentric reason". Just not got round to it!


Apatt Cecily wrote: "No "eccentric reason". Just not got round to it!"




message 7: by Cecily (new)

Cecily Is there an echo?
Or have you also posted a graphic that doesn't show on my phone?


Apatt Cecily wrote: "Is there an echo?
Or have you also posted a graphic that doesn't show on my phone?"


The latter. Time to get a new phone, avoid i7 (ノ´з`)ノ


message 9: by Lyn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lyn Great review!


Apatt Lyn wrote: "Great review!"

Thanks, Lyn. I was just reading your review of this earlier today and it's superb. Didn't comment, though, couldn't think of anything! :D


message 11: by Ivana (new)

Ivana Books Are Magic I read him for the drug free trips...:)
love that line<3


Apatt Ivana wrote: "I read him for the drug free trips...:)
love that line<3"


I'm glad I'm not the only one, Ivana. Thanks! :D


message 13: by Ivan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ivan Exactly what I was thinking after finishing it. Great review!


Apatt Thanks very much, Ivan! 😊


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