Ubik Paperback – Dec 3 1991
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Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:
"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.
Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."
Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?
The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk
SALES POINTS 'One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Dick made most of the European avant-garde seem like navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac' - Sunday Times 'My literary hero' -- Fay Weldon 'For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first' -- Terry Gilliam --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Psychic powers are now common, and a major industry is that of 'prudence'—protecting a client's privacy by neutralizing prying telepaths. Glen Runciter runs one of the solar system's largest prudence firms, and while on a job on the moon, is assassinated in an explosion that also wounds his eleven best agents. The agents recover and rush Runciter back to Earth, since the soul lingers for a few hours after death and can be trapped with cryonics. Alas, they are too late, and Runciter's soul has slipped away into true death, leaving his agent Joe Chip in charge of the company.
Soon after, Chip begins receiving strange messages implying that he and the other agents were the ones killed in the explosion, and Runciter, the only survivor, is attempting to talk with their souls in the half-life. Things get more mind-bending when time starts reversing and technology reverts to earlier states. In every time period, though, a mysterious product called Ubik is advertised, and seems to be Chip's key to survival—and he needs to get his hands on some soon, because his fellow agents are slowly turning up true-dead as well.
One of PKD's former wives has stated that Ubik is a metaphor for the omnipotence and omnipresence of God (Ubik deriving from 'ubiquitous'). Dick had some pretty crazy ideas about theology and divine experiences later in his life, and it begins to show in Ubik. Regardless, the novel can be read as a science fiction mystery, and quite a page-turning mystery at that. Four stars overall.
I haven't read all of Dick's books. I haven't even read half of them. Still I've read most of those whose names everyone knows, and I have read enough to think that even a genius of his magnitude would be hard pressed to write anything quite as good as Ubik twice. If I had to point at a single one of Philip Dick's works as his magnum opus, that would undoubtedly be it.
As Michael Marshall Smith aptly puts it in the forward of my edition of the book, there is a mind-boggling number of SF ideas in Ubik: time-travel; psychic abilities and their corresponding anti-abilities; the dead being kept in a state of "half-life" where they could be reached by the living; alternate realities and reality revision; futuristic space-faring society; dystopian economic system. Many authors would spin a book around any ONE of those, but for Philip Dick it's always what's underneath the flesh that matters, so he casually presents them ALL in the first ten pages of his novel.
In Ubik's world technology has advanced to the state where colonization of the Moon and other worlds is possible. Psychic phenomena are common and many people employ psychics in their business ventures or shadier dealings. And since no law could control such powers, the so called "prudence organizations" have appeared.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Almost as good as Do Androids dream. If you haven't read this, do it!Published 2 months ago by M. Ward
Some grammar and spelling mistakes... But overall enjoyed the book. Can be slow and confusing but has an interesting ending.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Great Product, as described and in very good condition. The shipping was very well handle and very fast. thank youPublished on Aug. 25 2011 by hubert
Phil Dick is my favorite writer, but of the 15 books I've read by him, this is my least favorite. The plot is confused and the characters, never a strong point in PKD's books, are... Read morePublished on Oct. 18 2003 by Dr. Christian B. Smart
Dick once more plays with his favourite theme, i.e. whether reality is for real. But in Ubik he does so in a heavy way, far from the subtelty one can see in The Man in the High... Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2003 by Antoine J. Bachmann