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Dr. Futurity Paperback – Jul 1 1984


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Paperback, Jul 1 1984
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 153 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Pub Group (Mm); Reissue edition (July 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425071065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425071069
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 10.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Doug Mackey on June 2 2004
Format: Paperback
Although it would have to be called one of Dick's weaker novels, Dr. Futurity, first published in 1960, is still a lot of fun. It concerns a present-day doctor who is plucked into the future by a tribe of Indians with time-travel technology. In their world the healing arts have been lost, since the ideal of dying to make room for an improved breed of humanity has displaced the value of living one's own life. The Indians, however, are inspired by a fanatical and paranoid leader, who is lying mortally wounded, on whom they wish the doctor to operate. In his effort to save the man, the doctor is thrust into a series of ingenious time paradoxes, which can be seen as a warm-up for the far richer novels Martian Time-Slip (1964) and Now Wait for Last Year (1966).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Ingenious time paradoxes June 2 2004
By Doug Mackey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although it would have to be called one of Dick's weaker novels, Dr. Futurity, first published in 1960, is still a lot of fun. It concerns a present-day doctor who is plucked into the future by a tribe of Indians with time-travel technology. In their world the healing arts have been lost, since the ideal of dying to make room for an improved breed of humanity has displaced the value of living one's own life. The Indians, however, are inspired by a fanatical and paranoid leader, who is lying mortally wounded, on whom they wish the doctor to operate. In his effort to save the man, the doctor is thrust into a series of ingenious time paradoxes, which can be seen as a warm-up for the far richer novels Martian Time-Slip (1964) and Now Wait for Last Year (1966).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Doctor Futurity - Philip K Dick Jan. 11 2002
By Rod Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A rare and early foray into the subject of Time Travel from Dick, although the timeslip element is used initially merely as a device to move an objective viewpoint to a far future and therefore alien society.
Although one of the novels in which Dick was still finding his literary feet, it shows signs of the depths of his ideas and the themes which would come to dominate his work.
Dr Jim Parsons is snatched from the US of Nineteen Ninety Eight and deposited in the year Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Five. Interestingly, the US that Dick envisaged in his own near future is one in which large corporations have been nationalised and society seems to be run by the professional classes (Doctors, lawyers, etc). American politics and society is often something at which Dick takes a sideswipe, often as part of the background to the main narrative.
Parsons arrives in a post-nuclear world where the human race has become homogenised and the birth rate is strictly controlled (as is female rights).
Children are produced by a process of controlled natural selection whereby competitive `tribes' engage in various mental and physical challenges; the number of points they win determining who contributes their zygotes to `The Soul Cube', which is essentially a vast bank of reproductive material.
Death is welcomed, as when a tribe member dies, a replacement is automatically fertilised within the cube.
Being a Doctor, and somewhat politically liberal, Parsons is confused and appalled when he is arrested for saving the life of a young woman who subsequently makes a complaint against him for denying her the right to die.
Structurally, the novel follows the mythic structure in that the hero - unwillingly in this case - is taken from his world of familiarity and his happy marriage (unusually for Dick, whose heroes tend to suffer from broken or dysfunctional relationships) to an alien world of seemingly bizarre behaviour and barbaric cultural beliefs.
Dick was once quoted as having been influenced by AE Van Vogt, and if it shows anywhere, it shows in this novel which, if a little less obscure and rambling than some of Van Vogt's work, displays some of his trademarks such as `the dark city of spires', the super race, the peculiar machines, the convoluted plot and the trip to Mars. These are Van Vogt clichés which can be seen at their best in Slan (1940) and `The World of Null-A' (1948).
It's obviously hastily written, although the time-travel loops and paradoxes are well-thought out and all the ends neatly tied up, although Dick skimps on some areas where the motives of the characters are confusing. For instance, believing himself to have murdered someone by utilising time-travel equipment Parsons goes out of his way to try and ensure that he has actually done so. At that point, however, he has no motive for carrying out the murder, and has been shown earlier to be - he is a Doctor after all - someone who is dedicated to preserving life.
Not a major Dick novel, but interesting nonetheless.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not his best, but good for Dick fans to read Sept. 15 2005
By Johnboy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This short PKD novel is not at the top of the list in execution but for Dick completists, it is an interesting time travel/paradox story. Many of us are now searching out more obscure stories by PKD, having read all his "classsics," and this novel certainly deserves a reading to compare it to his more fleshed-out novels.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
perhaps the least weird Philip K. Dick novel.. July 20 2003
By lazza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Philip K. Dick novels are an acquired taste. He almost always has interesting things to say but often it is shrouded in some incomprehensible storyline. In one of his earlier and least known works, Dr. Futurity, we can both appreciate Philip K. Dick's imagination and not get bogged down with erroneous weirdness (albeit some would say it is this weirdness that makes his books so appealing).
Dr. Futurity has a fundamental theme of the 'Back to the Future' film series - namely, folks travelling forward/backward in time with hopes of altering the course of history. In repeated time travelling episodes they actually see themselves from their previous journeys. In Dr. Futurity the purpose of the time travel is to prevent the white supremacy era, as the author describes, which began when explorers conquered the New World. In Philip K. Dick's twenty-fifth century all the human races are blended and babies are produced through careful selection. Physically defective individuals are encouraged to get euthanised. Now how this all relates to earlier centuries of white supremacy is unclear, but Philip K. Dick certainly takes us on a fun (if rather contrived) ride.
Bottom line: readable and enjoyable. Recommended for Philip K. Dick neophytes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Leave This One in the Past Nov. 5 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Authors, like all other humans, need some time to develop their own styles. That was certainly true of Philip K. Dick. "Dr. Futurity" was only the second novel he ever wrote, although it wasn't published until seven years later, and he seems to have tried to stuff everything he wanted to communicate into its 150 pages, all before he had grown into his own man. You have to admire his ambition, but with all due respect he should have called this book "Dr. Futility".

Leaving aside for the moment the novel's place in PKD's body of work, though, it just isn't very good. Its flaws are those of a lot of writers' early work - much of the dialogue is way too expository to seem realistic, the plot jumps around beyond any possibility of coherence, and the characters are either heroes or villains of the deepest stripe. Not to mention that the whole thing lacks any sort of humor or subtext; it's a Twilight Zone temporal puzzle and leaves little emotional impact. Good thing it's so short.

The cover of my edition refers to this as a "chilling time travel classic". It's got time travel in it, to be sure. Dr. Jim Parsons, driving to work, finds himself abruptly yanked into a far future where humans belong to totemic tribes and look forward to death as their greatest opportunity to contribute to the advancement of both humanity and their own tribes. Just why Dr. Parsons has been thus kidnapped and what he's supposed to do relates to this societal attitude, but it takes his arrest, exile to a prison colony on Mars, rescue, association with a highly sensual tribal mother and travel to sixteenth-century California to prevent the assassination of Sir Francis Drake.

Got all that? Well, if you read this novel, don't fret, you'll come to understand. The writing is clear enough. Unfortunately, it's got so much to do in conveying the incidents of the plot that it hasn't got time to do anything else.

Now, in all fairness, "Dr. Futurity" asks some interesting questions about the efficacy of time travel. Even more unusual, it asks whether time travel is a moral activity. The first question has been asked before, but I'm not sure about the second. In fact, it's that last question that gives this novel some relationship to PKD's later work - he was always considering new aspects of old science fictional notions.

The old question asks us to suppose that we went back in time to right an old wrong - could we do it? Or, in changing the past, would we perhaps change things so as to prevent our own existence? And if we did that, since we would not be around to make the change, would the change be made? Writers have been pointing that out for eighty years or so.

The new question asks us to suppose that we went back in time to right an old wrong - have we the right to do it? Suppose that in doing so, we endangered ourselves. If we defended ourselves, what might the consequences be? What about those we left back in our own time? What consequences would they have to endure if we changed the past, even in a way they might approve of? Something tells me that PKD was the first, and maybe the only, writer to ask his readers to consider anything of that sort.

It's just too bad that he wasn't skillful enough as yet to work those ideas into a fictional context. His characters actually ask them, in so many words, and sometimes out loud. Surely I need not tell you that people don't actually talk like that to each other. They may talk like that to themselves, of course, but not in well-crafted sentences, and usually with some overlay of emotional turmoil included.

Ironically, in the year that "Dr. Futurity" was published, PKD had recently completed the classic "Time Out of Joint", and would shortly produce his Hugo-Award winner "The Man in the High Castle". In those works, he showed conclusively that his lack of craft in "Dr. Futurity" was a thing of the past.

Benshlomo says, There's a time to reach back into the past and a time to leave it alone.

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