5.0 out of 5 stars A myriad of intermingling warps
Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb, was published in 1965, and owed its title to the inspiration of Stanley Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. However, it has no relationship to the film other than the coincidental presence of a mad scientist and a nuclear war. The first third of the novel takes place on...
Published on Jun 15 2004 by Doug Mackey
3.0 out of 5 stars Either Too Long Or Too Short
This book contains a lot of great PKD-style inventions, and he also makes some good points about who we trust and why. A lot of the human interactions in this book are well done, and that is not as common in PKD books as we all would like. However, he introduces too many plot threads and characters. While he has merely a complex cast of characters, the plot goes through...
Published on Jun 12 2003 by Jacob Baldassini
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5.0 out of 5 stars A myriad of intermingling warps,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb, was published in 1965, and owed its title to the inspiration of Stanley Kubrick's film Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. However, it has no relationship to the film other than the coincidental presence of a mad scientist and a nuclear war. The first third of the novel takes place on the day nuclear bombs strike the San Francisco area; the rest is set years later in western Marin County, where a small community of survivors has adapted to the post-holocaust environment. Perhaps the most surprising feature of this world is how much life is proceeding as normal. There is a large cast of characters through whose eyes we alternately view the events of the story. Among them is Bluthgeld, the scientist who helped create the Bomb, who in his paranoia and solipsism massively affects the reality of the other characters. But each of them subtly touch the lives of all others. Everyone in the book can and does have the power to affect each other's universe, warping each other's everyday reality in many little ways. The post-holocaust setting has its greatest significance in presenting a community, a microcosm of humanity, forming a common reality as the sum of their mutual interexperience.
3.0 out of 5 stars Either Too Long Or Too Short,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)This book contains a lot of great PKD-style inventions, and he also makes some good points about who we trust and why. A lot of the human interactions in this book are well done, and that is not as common in PKD books as we all would like. However, he introduces too many plot threads and characters. While he has merely a complex cast of characters, the plot goes through way to many twists and turns, and the two interact badly. Either one would be fine, but together, I feel this book would be a lot better if either about twenty-five unneccessary pages were edited out or another fifty pages to use these characters or ideas were added.
Don't get me wrong- PKD did a lot of stuff right in this one. His characters behave like people, when he's looking at the main plot, it shines, and using a disc jockey as the closest thing to God and the U.N. makes for a good book. However, it took a few readings for me to discover what he did right, and at first I was very frustrated with this book. I see that some characters or ideas might make the book feel more detailed, and make the post-holocaust world that much more vivid and gripping, but not to excess. At a point I stopped paying attention to the throwaway characters because their presence served no purpose.
If PKD was better known, then maybe people would be forwarned about the plot, and be able to handle it. I'm not saying that the average reader shouldn't buy this book, I'm just suggesting that the reader have either a background in PKD (you don't need it to understand the plot, but it helps with the general weirdness), a lot of tolerance for a plot that manages to be roundabout without leaving California, or the patience to read this book a couple of times to get a handle on it. Or maybe two of the three.
5.0 out of 5 stars Philip K. Dick's best novel,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)Granted, I have only read 7 Philip K. Dick novels, but out of those 7 this one stands out as the best. This novel contains fascinating insights into the concepts of solipsism, megalomania, and paranoia (the self is everything). Dr. Bloodmoney percieves himself to be at the center of the universe, the author of all things, the entire world being a mere projection of his personal subjectivity. Using his power, he creates a nuclear war. So is he crazy, or is he really somehow behind this catastrophe? This is just one of the many interesting subplots we are presented with in this story. There are a number of other characters in this book whose situations are also very compelling, and Philip K. Dick weaves their lives together with the skill of a master storyteller. Dick has an amazing ability to seamlessly meld the tragic and the hilarious, and the end result is one of the greatest sci-fi novels ever written.
4.0 out of 5 stars Prejudice, Paranoia, and the Bomb,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)The first image in this novel is that of a black man named Stuart McConchie sweeping the sidewalk in front of a Berkeley TV shop, eyeing the pretty girls on their way to work and indulging in some contempt for the approaching patients of the psychiatrist across the street. In any ordinary novel, that image would tell you that the book is going to be about that black man and those patients. In PKD, the image tells you that the book will be about prejudice.
The average author, to tackle that theme, would provide us with a group of unprejudiced characters battling a group of prejudiced ones and make it very clear which are the good guys and which the bad guys. PKD was always a little too smart for that. Just about every character in "Dr. Bloodmoney" is suspicious of pretty nearly every other character he or she meets at one time or another. That includes several characters who have good reason to be suspicious - Bruno Bluthgeld, for instance, the Dr. Bloodmoney of the title, who believes himself personally responsible for the nuclear exchange that brings the world to its knees. Hoppy Harrington, too, has good reason for his suspicions - he's a telekinetic biological sport with no arms or legs at a time when atomic radiation has produced talking dogs and musical rats, so everyone's been looking at him funny his whole life; he's not just imagining things.
However, the culture of suspicion even affects little Edie Keller and the undeveloped but quite powerful twin brother in her body. The culture of suspicion gets to Edie's father, George, who thinks his wife is cheating on him (he's right). It affects everyone, even the best of men and women. About the only character with no prejudice to speak of in "Dr. Bloodmoney" is Walt Dangerfield, left stranded in an orbiting satellite by the outbreak of war, and his lack of suspicion eventually leaves him the most vulnerable of all.
The good guys, in other words, are highly intolerant of anyone or anything new. PKD makes good use of the irony that this xenophobia blinds the people of West Marin County to the dangers that Bruno Bluthgeld and Hoppy Harrington pose to them directly, simply because both men have been around them for awhile. There are plenty of mainstream novels which deal with that very subject - you could name ten or more in less than five minutes - without the necessity of dragging in nuclear war and mutant mental powers.
In short, this is maybe the least SF that an SF novel could possibly be. This is not necessarily a criticism, of course - in fact, it would make "Dr. Bloodmoney" an excellent entry point into the works of PKD except for one thing. The story doesn't really get moving until about a third of the way in.
The novel is one of PKD's longest, and he spends a good bit of time on the events of the day the bombs come down. The story proper, however, begins seven years later, when a worldwide culture of semi-rural enclaves has settled into its routine, loosely knit together by communications from the man in the satellite. The opening events have little or no connection to the main plot, although there's a nice description of World War III as seen through the eyes of a man who just knows it's all a figment of his imagination. Nevertheless, as nicely written as those passages are, I found myself thinking that "Dr. Bloodmoney" could have used a little tightening up. Take the passage where a mushroom hunter watches Hoppy Harrington nearly get run down by a wood-burning truck. Now there's a good opening scene, I thought - why not start here and add in all that backstory during the main plot instead of making me wait all this time?
So, one star off for some loose-jointed plotting. Why not two stars off? Because those first pages, although they dangle from the book like a participle, do not strike me as unnecessary. Far from it - those pages contain some critical information, so critical that by the time the story proper kicked in I was thoroughly hooked. They just needed to be woven in more tightly, that's all. And PKD was notorious for writing fast and furiously - he needed the money. One more crime to chalk up to the American publishing industry, I suppose. Then again, they did publish "Dr. Bloodmoney", warts and all - let's be thankful for what we've got.
And, to return to the point we started with, let's hope that "Dr. Bloodmoney" teaches us what life can be like when, like most of these characters, we lay aside our prejudices and work together to build something good.
Benshlomo says, Some good art, like some good life, is messy.
4.0 out of 5 stars It's finally back!,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)I cannot understand why this Dick book had been out of print for years. Some of his most interesting characters and concepts found in later books evolved from this one, his most intelligent post-bomb novel. His flare for the unusal and his this -ain't -quite -what -it -seems twists keeps the reader guessing throughout. Even though we get just a glimpse of who the characters are before the nuclear destruction, we are sympathetic to their attempt to eek out an existance and share their hopes for a new world. Their personal evolution is wonderfully illustrated. Despite a somewhat abrupt ending, the book holds up when read today.
4.0 out of 5 stars Not PKD's best, but that's better than most!,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)"Dr. Bloodmoney" represents Philip K. Dick's stab at the apocalyptic fiction genre. As usual, he enjoys success, and as usual he does so in his own unique way. Whereas most authors are interested in how the survivors carry on (the day to day grind), Dick is more interested in what a society would look like where everyone has been brought low, and what the impact of genetic mutation would be in such a society. Over the course of the novel, Dick makes some compelling points about racism, by pointing out that survival skills aren't based upon appearance, and not even on physical ability.
Unfortunately, I have to agree with some of the other reviewers that "Dr. Bloodmoney" didn't successfully carry a theme throughout the novel, and that it was somewhat disjointed. Nonetheless, it is a fascinating read, and Dick on his worst day is better than most authors on their best. Of particular note was Dr. Bluthgeld, the protagonist of the book's title. A nuclear physicist, he has become so perverted by the nuclear power he once wielded that he has mistaken god-like powers with actually being a god. Needless to say, he descends into madness and as a result his neighbors learn a lesson about real power, and the packages it comes in.
Also interesting was Dick's description of a post-nuclear holocaust world. He populates it with a host of genetic freaks, both animal and human. All are profoundly changed, and yet familiar enough to be deeply disturbing. At the same time he throws in little details that lend his creation great depth: horse drawn cars, a cigarette factory, a stranded astronaut acting as the world's last remaining D.J. None offers the big picture view of an "Earth Abides" or "Alas Babylon" but they are small details that hint at big things, and engage the imagination in a unique way.
Ultimately, "Dr. Bloodmoney" hints at some intriguing ideas, but never follows all the way through on them. Nonetheless, it is an engaging read with unique characters trying to survive in a bizarre, yet recognizable setting. Dick offers a stern warning against the folly of nuclear war from a unique angle. Instead of railing against the weapons, he points out the deep psychological damage that a person could incur by having such power at their fingertips. As always, he tells an interesting story from an unexpected point of view. While not on par with "The Man in the High Castle", it is nonetheless an excellent representation of his work that can be enjoyed by newcomers and die-hard fans alike.
3.0 out of 5 stars The first draft of a great novel,
This review is from: Dr. Bloodmoney (Paperback)If I understand aright, PKD's amazing prolicity stemmed largely from the fact that much of his career was spent in grinding poverty, and churning out novel after novel was the only was he could stay afloat (not wholly dissimilar from Balzac in that sense). It's indicative of the man's genius that the novel's he wrote in this manner (of which I am assuming Dr. Bloodmoney is one) are as good as they are; unfortunately--but unsurprisingly--they are not nearly as good as they ought to be, however, and this is a prime example of that. Dick takes on any number of themes here, but he never follows through. Did he intend the novel to address racism and bigotry in general, via the characters of Stuart and Hoppy? He takes a few experimental pokes at the subject, but never follows up. Did he intend to examine the way the lack of an outside authority causes a community to develop? The terrifying willingness of its inhabitants to play judge, jury, and executioner--and the general unconcern with the murder of outsiders (and on a related note, are we meant to be sympathetic too or repelled by Bonny Keller, who does, after all, cold-bloodedly arrange the execution in question on a highly dubious pretext)?--would seem to indicate that this would play a major part in the novel, but it doesn't, ultimately, and the reader is left baffled--this is not intentional ambiguity; it's quite clear that Dick himself had not fully worked out what he was trying to accomplish. Was the Christ figure of Dr. Bluthgeld meant to be a meditation on faith and on the possibility of messianic fallibility? Perhaps, but again, it never goes anywhere. What of Hoppy Harrington? An interesting and conflicted character who devolves all too quickly into a garden-variety villain. Quite unfortunate.
Beyond the larger problems, there are weird little inconsistencies which should have been worked out: early in the novel, Orion Strout attempts to run Hoppy over with a truck, while later on it becomes clear how bizarre this is;The physiological nature of the relationship between Edie and Bill seems to change for no other reason than novelistic convenience. Not big issues in themselves, but symptomatic of the novel's overall problem.
This should have been a brilliant, genre-transcending, classic--the characters are uniformly interesting (even with the inconsistencies of personality), and the post-nuclear world is wonderfully-rendered. But it received insufficient attention, and so it's not. A shame.
4.0 out of 5 stars the perfect Philip K. Dick book for beginners...,
Dr. Bloodmoney is non-standard PKD material in that it is extremely readable and, surprise!, understandable. It is a rather curious story of survival in the bizarre, mutant-rich world of post-WWW III (nuclear war) San Francisco bay area. Yes, there are weird creatures and a fair amount of metaphysical shenanigans (..PKD trademarks). But PKD is remarkably controlled in telling this story, and it scores well on the believability index.
Bottom line: Philip K. Dick goodness in controlled, measured doses. Certainly not his most creative work, but perhaps his most accessible. Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars There's hope for humanity after all....,
2.0 out of 5 stars SF NOVELS OPUS SIXTEEN,
The novel describes the lives of a dozen characters before, in the middle and after an atomic blast upon the West Coast of the United States. As often in sci-fi novels written in that period, the danger has come from Asia ; China has attacked and the americans must learn to rebuild by themselves their hyper-technical society. But the atomic war has produced genetical mutations among the humans and the animals and soon the mutants become a danger to the human species.
I never had the feeling that DR. BLOODMONEY was a coherent novel, it was rather a collection of several novelettes to me. The story of Hoppy, the phocomel without arms nor legs, developing paranormal powers, the story of Dr. Bluthgeld or Bloodmoney, the paranoid scientist, who thinks that he can destroy his enemies (in fact, everyone) by will alone, the story of Walt Dangerfield who, condemned to live in a satellite, has the responsibility to try to unify a population lost in a no-car world, and so on. Each one of these novelettes is excellent but the novel in itself is not at the level of UBIK or NOW WAIT FOR LAST YEAR.
A book for Philip K. Dick's aficionados only.
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Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - May 14 2002)
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