Ubik, by Philip K. Dick

February 15, 2011 at 13:52 (Book Reviews, Fiction, Highly Rated Books, Horror, Science Fiction) (, , , , )


There is very little to criticise in Ubik. Philip K. Dick begins with a smattering of science fiction ideas that most writers would give their index fingers to possess: flawlessly imagined commercialisation of all sorts of rival telepathies, futuristic terrorism, terrifically rendered post-death experiences with incredible postulations into cryogenics. He takes this rich platter, and uses every piece of it as window dressing for a dizzying plunge into the depths of the soul, with a terrifying nightmare half-life of parasitic existence. He manages to do all of this while writing a thrilling and exciting murder mystery and a realistic and engaging historical fiction.

There is a large ensemble cast of characters, and the only one the reader is really given time to explore is Joe Chip: but the shadowy and shallow shapes each remain vaguely mysterious and utterly suspicious throughout the story, ebbing and flowing marvellously in a perfect mimicry of the dream world’s own fluctuating construct. It is a shame that readers are not given time to make heavier investments in these characters, and it is a shame that the savagely brilliant science fiction of Philip K. Dick does not lend itself to further study (what he might have done with the throwaway war between the Runciter and Hollis corporations and their telepaths!). But like a bronze casting, the exquisitely-carved mold is chipped away and discarded only to reveal the true work of art. Ubik has everything: the glimmering fantasy of the future, the mystical blurring between technology and the soul of man, the authority of historical fiction and suspense; sheer bloody-minded suspense and terror that culminate in the metaphysical ambiguity that this master author manages so well.


1 Comment

  1. Joachim Boaz said,

    Definitely one of his best! Great review!

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