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Radio Free Albemuth [Hardcover]

Philip K. Dick
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 1985
A preliminary to Dick's masterwork, Valis, in which Phil appears as an explicitly named autobiographical character for the first time. Soon to be a major new film. As America gasps in the stranglehold of a skull-crushing totalitarian regime, a supernatural intelligence speaks from the stars...ARAMCHEK...the word scratched in the sidewalk of the President's childhood home. ARAMCHEK...the name of the subversive society 'with no official membership' whose sole purpose is to overthrow the American government. ARAMCHEK...the word printed on a book which contains the President's signature - a book in the hands of a Communist Party organiser. ARAMCHEK...the name of a woman who may hold the key - and who has only weeks to live. Will the agents of the omniscient Valis succeed in their mission of liberation? Or will the seek-and-destroy tactics of President Ferris F. Freemont extend the mind-numbing grip of the Antagonist across the parameters of the free world? In Radio Free Albemuth, his last novel, Philip K. Dick morphed and recombined themes that had informed his fiction from A Scanner Darkly to VALIS and produced a wild, impassioned work that reads like a visionary alternate history of the United States. Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, Radio Free Albemuth is proof of Dick's stature as our century's greatest science fiction writer. This prophetic novel of social control and political oppression is now to be turned into a major new movie starring Alanis Morrissette, which promises a provocative and edgy antidote to the summer blockbusters.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Here is another of the unpublished novels science-fiction writer Dick left when he died in 1982. It recounts the friendship of two California men, Nicholas Brady, a record store clerk and later a record company executive, and Philip K. Dick, a writer. During the several decades spanned by the novel, America slides into fascism, particularly under the presidency of Ferris F. Fremont, who comes into office in 1969. Once entrenched, Fremont begins tossing dissidents into camps and in some cases executing them. Brady, meanwhile, has been receiving communications from a Godlike intelligence which he dubs Valis (an idea the author utilized previously in Valis). Valis guides Brady in the secrets of the universe, in the conduct of his life, and in a plot to bring down the monstrous Fremont, a cause to which Brady is finally martyred. This bleak political vision is given extra force by its autobiogrphical tone. Though not one of Dick's best novels, it is an engrossing, non-stop excursion into a believable vision of Hell. Foreign rights: Scott Meredith. January 8
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.


'An engrossing, non-stop excursion into a believable vision of hell' Publishers Weekly 'The most brilliant sci-fi mind on any planet' Rolling Stone --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wild, paranoid, large-scale, incredibly cool April 3 2010
Phillip K. Dick is at his best when he is working with BIG IDEAS, and it doesn't get any bigger than this. This book is connected in interesting ways with his insanely metaphysical Valis trilogy -- but what I think is most exciting about this one is the way he inserts himself into the universe depicted in the previous trilogy, as if to suggest that the genesis of the ideas from those books had its basis in his own experience. This tie to the "real" world makes this the ultimate Phillip K. Dick novel (though probably not the first one to read, since the conceit works best if you are already familiar with some of his ideas and works) -- since it "intensifies" or brings to completion the level of metaphysical speculation, as if to say: "you know all those books I wrote about fantasy worlds in which it was impossible to tell the difference between fantasy and reality?... that wasn't just fiction, some of it really happened to me." If you've only encountered Dick through the various movie adaptations (some successful some not), you should read Scanner, Ubik, and at least the Valis trilogy first, but then you won't be disappointed by this, his final work (even though it wasn't completed to his satisfaction when he died there's more good stuff in there than in several stacks of standard pulp sci-fi.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating forerunner of VALIS June 5 2004
This was an early version of Dick's masterpiece VALIS. It is a very different novel and a very good one in its own right, full of the same metaphysical issues but not as directly autobiographical as VALIS. It is set in an alternate universe in which a certain Ferris F. Fremont (a thinly disguised Richard Nixon) is president. Nixon's paranoia about domestic "enemies" becomes Fremont's all-out campaign against a supposed conspiracy called Aramchek. To crack down on this enemy, an insidious secret police organization called FAP (Friends of the American People) is set up. Nicholas Brady, an alter ego for Dick himself, is the target for FAP harassment, and learns that the conspiracy is real. Aramchek is the satellite that is beaming information to several thousand highly aware individuals around the world, forming a "collective brain." Radio Free Albemuth is cast in a more straightforward science-fictional mode than the unconventional VALIS. But on its own merits, it is an absorbing novel that is the best possible introduction to the material and preoccupations of Dick's later years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PKD´¿s Ultimate Paranoia Dec 13 2002
Having read a fair amount of PKD´¿s work, I´¿m hardly an expert but I do know that some of his stories are incoherent and directionless, while others are excellent and deeply insightful (especially my personal favorite, ´¿A Scanner Darkly´¿). In either case, I will always be amazed by his uniquely subversive ideas. This book was found in unpublished form after PKD´¿s death, and I think I can see why he did not submit it for publication. First, it runs parallel to the Valis Trilogy in ways that may cause confusion. Meanwhile, the ideas used here and the methods of narration are kind of a messy hodgepodge, although the book does succeed in the end. The most awkward aspect is PKD´¿s insertion of himself as one of the two main characters in the story. This method sometimes devolves into merely an outlet for PKD to complain about being labeled as a drug-induced writer, and to play out his extremely paranoid delusions about the Feds monitoring and whitewashing his work. Meanwhile, as opposed to some PKD books that can´¿t quite carry a single undeveloped idea, this book has just too many of them fighting for space. Here we have rampant McCarthyism, disenfranchisement, near-death experiences, subliminal messages, cosmology, and even ancient religious philosophy. All these ideas and awkward techniques make this book rather clumsy and careening, and PKD´¿s sheer paranoia shines through at every turn. But you can still be moved by his nightmarish scenarios of conformity and state control gone mad - and these are valuable insights, regardless of their plausibility.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read, ultimate paranoia! Oct. 26 2001
This is a very well-written novel from an author who is generally hit or miss. It also has an unusual narative structure (which I will not give away) that provides a clue into Dick's own state of mind. Based on actual events of Dick's life, (as he sees them) this novel, published after his death, is the first version of what became (the very confused) VALIS. Read this first and you will understand VALIS much, much more. Dick's final four novels (RFA, VALIS, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer) should all be read in that order to really unlock the mind of Dick in the last years of his fascinating life.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Literary SF exists... Aug. 12 2001
Tired of SF novels that read like increasingly banal versions of "Starship Troopers"? Well, Philip K. Dick is the cure for you. Each of his novels sets off on its own, wonderful meandering journey that takes you places you've never imagined, and Radio Free Albemuth is no exception.
The plot basically follows American History until the late 1960s, when a character named Fremont but actually a shell for Richard Nixon takes over the country by assassinating his rivals and proceeds to make a mockery of the Bill of Rights.
That's just the backdrop for a fascinating foray into the "real" meaning of the Bible, the Jesus story, and eternal life.
BTW, this book, at just over 200 pages, takes a while to read. There are no banal page-long descriptions of the weather, clothing, etc. a la a pulp fiction novel. It's rich with ideas from page to page, so it's not necessarily a page-turner. You have to stop and think about it -- best if read not all at once but a few chapters at a time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential part of the Dick ouvere
This is, in many ways, the quiessential Philip K. Dick novel. It's not his best, and it's not the one you should read first (after all, it's part of the Valis series), but it is a... Read more
Published on July 29 2001 by Bill R. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars A Culmination?
I don't know why, but ever since I read RFA it has been my favorite book by PKD. Dick's strength has always been his loose entanglement ("grip" is too strong a word)... Read more
Published on July 13 2001 by C. Hamilton
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Dick's best, but surprisingly coherent
Considering how stoned he got during the 60s and 70s, one would expect Dick's last published novel to be somewhat incoherent. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2001 by Dan Seitz
5.0 out of 5 stars Paranoia will destroy you
Radio Free Albemuth captures the true meaning of paranoia. The book swiftly tells the story of a wicked and manipulative government attacking its own citizens. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2000 by Adam Stortz
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Valis
This book is better than "Valis"! Ive read it 3 times and i get it in a way that ill never get ValiS
Published on Aug. 12 2000 by Mark E. Givens
4.0 out of 5 stars Good SF, Excellent Theory about God
In RFA, PKD realizes that the Earth is a single planet subject to the technologies of other planets. Read more
Published on June 19 2000 by Carl Gilbertsen
3.0 out of 5 stars explicitly autobiographical
RFA is a good book if you like PKD and are familiar with his themes, his life, and the specific concerns that he had at this point in his life. As a novel, RFA is quite lacking. Read more
Published on March 12 2000 by Guy Salvidge
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Dick Novel
This is my favorite of all of his works so far(and I've read most of them). Heavily autobiographical, Dick captures the paranoia of the early 70's surrealistically as he is slowly... Read more
Published on March 5 2000
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