Glenn Schmelzle's Reviews > Now Wait for Last Year

Now Wait for Last Year by Philip K. Dick
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May 09, 2009

it was ok
Read in March, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Plot Summary:
Dr. Eric Sweetscent, who works for a conglomerate that does everything from drug manufacturing to defence contracting, is loaned to the UN to be the Secretary General's physician. The UN has Earth at war with aliens called the Reegs, with the help of the untrustworthy Starmen of the Lilistar empire. Secretary Gino Molinari suffers from chronic health problems, having had many artificial organs inserted by his 'artiforg surgeon.' Now Eric has to tend to him as his health pings up and down and we learn that it's intentionally manipulated for negotiating purposes. In fact, he has several robants of himself that stand-in for him on TV appearances, etc.

We become aware of JJ-180, a time-altering drug that's addictive after 1 dose. We're Unsure whether JJ-180 was created by the Reegs or by humans, but it ends up being effective as a military weapon. Eric's estranged wife, Kathy, takes some drugs, which turn out to be JJ-180. She then drifts in between the present and the near-future. She attempts to contact Eric, but afraid how he'll react, she doesn't tell him her dilemma. As her cravings increase, she makes a deal with the Starmen to blackmail Eric (this furthers their negotiating plans). Between her and a Uriah Heep character called Festenberg, Eric is slipped some JJ-180 into Eric, both tantamount to a death notice and grounds for losing his job. He contemplates suicide, but he thinks better of it. The book ends with him strolling through Tijuana, seeing not macro-political trends, but little thinks that he can draw inspiration from.

Comments:

This could've been written as a straight fiction book, centred upon a man facing middle age and a troubled marraige. What makes it a PKD book is the existentialism, the sci-fi inventions and rooting for the little guy. The Dick technique used the mostr throughout the book: characters go through a simple situation, but then they're quizzed on whether they REALLY experienced it, or if they misinterpreted it, or if their senses were deceiving them. All to prove that reality is open for debate.

My favourite piece of dialogue involves Eric talking with a adolescent girl with a matter-of-fact way of talking:
"What can I say," he said, "except that maybe you've put your finger on the great central weak link of my life. Why it hasn't got the meaning it should have?"
"Well, who do you blame for that? Everyone else?"

This isn't one of my favourite PKD novels, but I'm not sure how to fault it; just that the subject matter may be a downer.

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