The Divine Invasion (VALIS #2) (1981) by Philip K. Dick

TheDivineInvasionAnd yet–his ultimate move had fallen through because Linda Fox … it had been the wrong time. Her menstrual cycle, he thought. Linda Fox has periods and cramps? he asked himself. I don’t believe it. But I guess it’s true. Could it have been a pretext? No, it was not a pretext. It was real. (201)

Herb Asher experiences cognitive dissonance when faced with the biological reality of his Linda Ronstadt fantasy, while readers face similar uncertainty about the entire text. Which is the real timeline? Who is dead and who is alive? What do these weird names signify? Who knew that eyelashes could emote? Continue reading

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VALIS (1981) by Philip K. Dick

VALIS1981Beyond the reality bending, beyond the suburban discontent, beyond the fragile male ego expressed as nonchalant sexism, PKD’s preference for the word “vast” most struck me from the very first novel I read by him, especially by the time Jason tells Alys, “But you’re vast,” (170) in Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. It’s not a word I hear every day, and Dick uses it constantly. 

Here’s the thing, though: Flow My Tears was published in February 1974, written before the 2-3-74 events that triggered the whacked out, mystical wanderings of VALIS, Radio Free Albemuth, and The Exegesis. So, “Vast Alys” existed before VALIS.

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Radio Free Albemuth (1976, pub. 1985) by Philip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth

I’m of two minds with Radio Free Albemuth (1976/1985), Dick’s posthumously published novel that precipitated his more famous VALIS trilogy. I pity the Phil (sorry) for the publication of this book, which, in his right mind, he never would have wanted the public to read in this condition. It reads like the shell of a story. He’s not the best writer, but he writes clean prose, and I’ve never seen him reliant on so much bad, awkward, abrupt, and pointless dialogue. It reads like something a CIA shill ghostwrote in order to make PKD look like a joke. (Which is actually something that happens in the book.) Continue reading

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974) by Philip K. Dick

FlowMyTears1Drugs. Alternate realities. Paranoia.

Drugs.

Stuff I expect from Philip K. Dick, even though I’ve never read his work. Stuff that deterred me from reading Philip K. Dick, because Naked Lunch and Sartre was enough paranoia for me. Stuff that’s old now, moving on, roll my eyes, that’s so old-fashioned.

And yet, the man managed to shock my worn sensibilities in this 1974 tale about the ultimate I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

One thing about Ruth Rae: she was smart enough not to let her skin become too tanned. Nothing aged a woman’s skin faster than tanning, and few women seemed to know it… (96)

“You look every bit as beautiful—“ he began, but she cut him off brusquely.
“I’m old.” She rasped. “I’m thirty-nine” (98)
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