Nate D's Reviews > Ubik

Ubik by Philip K. Dick
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's review
Nov 25, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011, sci-fi, 60s-re-de-construction, favorites, horror
Recommended to Nate D by: the subtext of television comercials
Recommended for: telepaths in cold-pac

Completely absurd yet simultaneously existentially terrifying, this deals very well with one of Dick's foremost recurring themes: the instability, or indefiniteness, or just fundamental inaccuracy of assumptions about reality. Not that I've actually seen it, but in some ways this seems to be a predecessor of what I understand to be the plot of Jacob's Ladder: a group of people whose time seems to be running out in a disquieting manner with deep implications towards their actual state of existence. This sets up a gripping horror story system, then rams it through an even gripping-er series of deformations and distortions, right up to and through the last page.

I used to have the issue with Dick that his writing skills were often superseded by his ideas. I don't really have a problem with this so much anymore, as it makes for basically the most fascinating pulp writing ever. So while there's unarguably some unevenness and unconvincing characterization going here, would the much longer book that would be required to give everyone and everything due development actually be preferable to this sheer conceptual rollercoaster? I'm not so sure it would, ultimately. And hence will continue to devour PKD-as-given, as messy and bizarre as he needs to be to shoot his ideas across at his several-books-a-year rate.
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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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message 1: by Printable Tire (new)

Printable Tire You've got it right about his pulpiness actually being an asset. Although it would be interesting to read one of his non-scifi so-called "literary" novels and see if they're written the same way, and if they have the same affect.

Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to do that for a while since I'm trying to read the novels in the order they were published.

Nate D I saw you were doing that, but I was confused and thought you were doing order-they-were-written. So you've not read Confessions of a Crap Artist? It's good. I think that might be the only of the 50s realist works to be published in his actual lifetime (in 75 or so, I think, so you'll get there eventually). How many had you read prior to this project, and are you re-reading them all when they come up in order?

message 3: by Printable Tire (new)

Printable Tire The only ones I read prior were Do Androids Dream... and Dr. Bloodmoney. Do Androids Dream... I read, probably like a lot of people, because I was a fan of Blade Runner, and was surprised that it was totally different in style and plot from the movie (for my money the best Dick film adaption in terms of tone and style is Total Recall). Dr. Bloodmoney, even though I read it maybe as recently as 2005 or 2006, I remember next to nothing about, other than that it was "weird." I might read them both again, they are quick enough reads, though usually as an unwritten rule I don't ever read books more than once.

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Dr. Bloodmoney is amazing. Out of all of the PKD I've read, some 30 odd books, it stands alone as being the most different in tone and execution. It's easiest his largest in scope, feeling almost "epic" in comparison, and I think it's also his most character-focused.

message 5: by Printable Tire (new)

Printable Tire Huh. Another reason to read it again.

message 6: by Slap Happy (last edited Feb 23, 2012 09:58AM) (new) - added it

Slap Happy I just read Dr. Futurity, supposedly one of Dick's weaker novels, and I was wondering why I had liked it so much. The second paragraph of your review really hit the nail on the head and holds true, for me anyway, with Dr. Futurity. I need to read more PKD. It was a rip-roaring read. Delicious brain candy.

Nate D Yeah! He's ultimately just so much fun to read, while still leaving plenty of ideas to savor afterwards.

Cecily "fascinating pulp" - Yes!

message 9: by Sofia (new) - added it

Sofia Mostly enjoyed Jacob's Ladder for its influence on Silent Hill, but it's a mostly tight film. If this makes any sense, it has some of the most embodied tableaux I've ever seen.

Nate D I'd like to see it now just to see how that description plays out.

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