1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll be buying more Phillip Dick novels...
This is my first Phillip K. Dick novel, and in my opinion "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" deserves high praise. For starters, it wins the fight against one of the most difficult opponents that a sci-fi novel could face: Cliché. Simply put, this story is based on an overused plot-the man who loses his identity and struggles to regain a sense of self. Cliche is a...
Published on June 21 2004 by Eric D. Knapp
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange and psychedelic book.
From the beginning this book reads like a drug induced hallucination. Jason Taverner loses his identity and finds himself caught in limbo in a controlled police state where those without papers are criminals. Can he get back to his reality, or did his reality ever actually exist. Are all his memories simply a narcotic trip that has ended?
In case you are wondering...
Published on April 30 2003 by Sailoil
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll be buying more Phillip Dick novels...,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)This is my first Phillip K. Dick novel, and in my opinion "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" deserves high praise. For starters, it wins the fight against one of the most difficult opponents that a sci-fi novel could face: Cliché. Simply put, this story is based on an overused plot-the man who loses his identity and struggles to regain a sense of self. Cliche is a tough monster to beat, and most sci-fi novels are devoured by it boots and all. Going into this novel (which I read on a recommendation from a friend) I had low expectations, because I for one am sick to death of this particular premise. However, Phillip Dick somehow managed to actually win the battle against this tired fiction formula, and won me over in the process. He actually found, somehow, a unique way of telling the story. A very unique way.
It deserves kudos for this alone. Not the snack, but the regard and esteem.
Apart from being pleasantly surprised at Dick's ability to pull this story off, there is a lot more that deserves commendation, too... there's a like-him-hate-him anti hero, a wonderfully fleshed-out policeman (two, actually), and a manically bizarre "mini-heroine" that pops up to simultaneously help, hurt and hinder the protagonist, Jason Taverner.
Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was Dick's writing style. The story is written upon a fine line between poetry and prose that often lulled me into a false sense of security. He managed on several occasions to make me say "wow" due to some particularly inspiring turn of phrase, or through some witty and poignant philosophical observation... in fact, some of his descriptions, in their poetic simplicity, created such vivid images in my mind that I am inclined to compare them to Bradbury's classic Fahrenheit 451, which contains one of my favorite pieces of descriptive text of all time.
All-in-all, "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" is an easy read with very realistic characters, a healthy dose of political and philosophical impact (which is what sci-fi is all about after all), a delightful plot-twist at the ending (I loved the ending), and an overall quality and completeness that many novels lack. The ending (did I mention that I loved the ending) was ripe with potentialities as well, an amalgam of hidden possibilities and quantum probabilities. Basically, the premise of the book (that a man is sucked into some alternate reality where he does not exist) is caused by something that does not fully cease to occur until somewhere in the epilogue (That will make more sense after you read the book. Pay attention at the end, and wonder just what is real and what isn't. It's fun).
5.0 out of 5 stars I wrote this while shroomin',
By A Customer
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Mass Market Paperback)Please do not read this if you are stupid. As is the case with most Dick, you have to look at the book sideways to fully comprehend it.
The characters are so deep I felt like I knew them. They all have positive and negative qualities, unlike some authors who manage to pigen whole their characters into pure good or evil. The characters in Flow My Tears only want to be themselves even if they aren't shure of who that is.
If you like to think alot about a book after finishing it, then this is a book for you.
If your stupid, Amazon has a wide variety of Riddick inspired merchandise for you.
Just say No.
5.0 out of 5 stars My solipsism is better than your solipsism...,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)The premise of this novel is that by taking a toxic drug called KR-3 one can become "unbound in space" and start to inhabit alternate spatial corridors branching off from the "real" one. When Alys Buckman, a malevolent, sadomasochistic power-tripper, thoroughly decadent in all matters of sex and drugs, takes KR-3, she is able to pull Jason Taverner, popular TV entertainer, into an alternate reality where no one except her knows who he is. Taverner's "star" status is the reference point for his reality, until he wakes up in a world where people think he's insane, suffering from delusions of grandeur. He's solipsistic because he incorrectly believes the world still revolves around him. But Alys is a solipsist who happens to be right, for she makes Jason a performer on the stage of her mind, and her mind only. Terrifyingly for Taverner, he must survive as a nonperson in a police state where to be caught without identification can mean spending the rest of one's life in a forced-labor camp. Interestingly, the policeman Felix Buckman, Alys's brother, is portrayed sympathetically, even though he represents the State that crushes individuals like butterflies under its heel. He is the character who finally discovers love as a redemptive force. Dick holds out empathy as the only salvation from the unforgiving human and existential forces that try to expunge one's identity and cast one into the outer darkness of insanity.
4.0 out of 5 stars That last Part,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)This was an awsome book. In the usual Philip K Dick manner he explores the question of what is real. But i would highly recomend tearing out the fourth part, the Epiloge, and burning it. It may nearly wreck the book for you. It seems as if Dick wanted could not stand the world his book created and had to unmake it. If you can not stand to tear it out at least wait a few days between reading the rest of the book and the last part.
5.0 out of 5 stars a vase that could launch a thousand ships,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)I thought the ending was fantastic. Not satisfying? Hardly. I found it to be entertainingly and purposefully glib, yet replete with serious meaning. Satisfying meaning. Meanings within meanings. Yes, one either gets and appreciates this sort of thing or one does not. Which isn't to say that anyone who 'gets it' has to 'get it' in exactly the same way. Such is the ambiguity of true art. It is, however, a well documented scientific fact that those who do not 'get' PKD are a lot less fun to have around at parties.
Flawed genius? Yes, maybe, but Dick was a creator of beautiful art, even if his art was, out of necessity, posing as pulp SF. But, hey, the absence of flaw in beauty is in ITSELF a flaw, as has been astutely noted.
Okay, yeah yeah yeah, what is real? What makes us human? That jazz has been thoroughly covered, and rightly so. But another one of the many, many (this IS by Dick, after all) admirable threads that tie all the characters of 'Flow My Tears' together is the ever-popular and universal theme of love...wanting to love, wanting to be loved, temporizing over love, gettin' some love (woo-hoo!), crazy-nutty-unrealistic love, incestuous love (whoa, didn't see THAT coming! Go Dick!), meaningless-life-draining-phone-oriented-cyber-love (curiously prophetic), losing one's love, having one's love stomped all over by forces that are beyond one's control. And, yes, we are INDEED living in a 'police state', my naively optimistic, overly pampered and isolated brothers and sisters. That's ALREADY true as blue, and getting worse.
But, in the end, not unlike so many real-life characters I've met, Dick's characters seem to never get enough love. And who can blame them? Not I. But, out of all the characters in 'Flow My Tears', do any of them actually find love? Yes! The beautiful blue vase was "much loved." Good for it! I'm satisfied. What? Yes, the blue vase DOES count as a character. It surely does. Oh, whatever. Please remind me never to invite you to any parties.
4.0 out of 5 stars Peerless sci-fi from the master of surreality,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)Once again, Philip K. Dick blends startling realism with surreal sci-fi. This time, the focus of his book is one Jason Taverner, TV star, singer and Six. One morning, Taverner wakes up to find himself in a low-grade motel he doesn't recognize. He quickly realizes that he has "vanished"-- all memory of him has been expunged, and he simply doesn't exist anymore, in a police state where not having an identity is a crime in itself.
The book begins by focusing fairly steadily on Taverner, a classic Dicksian protagonist. He is confused, disoriented, but profoundly in control of his desperate situation. After meeting up with a deranged identity forger, he finds himself at odds with the ubiquitous "police" that run people's everyday lives. However, at about this point Dick introduces Police General Felix Buckham and his fetishist sister Alys. The two are constantly at odds, the general's firm belief in rules clashing with Alys's firm belief in breaking them. Alys later becomes a more important character, as she "saves" Taverner after his second run-in with the general. After taking him to her house, she feeds him a hallucinogen, then goes to get him the counterdrug. Along the way, she dies, leaving Taverner the main suspect. He flees, and begins to realize that people know about him again. He hypothesizes that the drug she gave him was what had maintained his illusion of stardom, and that he was really just a nobody, a bum. I will not reveal the ending in this review, except to say that it far stranger than even Taverner believes.
PKD starts out strong with this one, but his focus begins to shift to Buckham later in the book. With his usual attention to detail, Dick hints vaguely at ways this world differs from our own: the lockdowns of campuses, the legality of certain drugs, and most of all the experiments that created superhumans called "Sixes." What the Sixes do exactly is unclear, but Taverner is one, and he has powers of persuasion far beyond the human norm. This and other vagueties are resolved in an epilogue that seems unusually contrived; perhaps it is mocking the omnipotent epilogues that wrap things up so neatly, a common feature in contemporary sci-fi. Whatever its message, Flow My Tears raises thought-provoking questions on life, love, and loss.
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, if not spectacular Dick,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)Phil Dick is an author that one either gets or doesn't get. His philosophical, paranoiac brand of science fiction both alienates many fans of "hard" science fiction and attracts many non-genre fans. Two main questions run through all of his work: "What is reality?" and "What does it mean to be human?" This is one of his better-known novels, though it is not one of his best. The basic plot is hardly an original SF one -- unlike most Dick, which basically defines the word "original": a man wakes up in a world in which he does not exist. Dick, however, puts a unique spin on this tried-and-true formula, as only he could. Interspersed throughout the book are long philosophical dialogues on such subjects as the meaning of love, the purpose of pain, the nature of justice, and other such Big Matters that come out of nowhere and disappear just as fast. This sense of half-reality is a defining characteristic of all of Dick's work; one critic put it well when he said that he couldn't decide if Dick's dialogue is totally unreal, or more real than most. Never a prose artist, Dick writes with a hand that belies his pulp origins -- and yet, paradoxically, nevertheless laces his books with obscure literary references, startling philosophical asides, and half-used concepts that lesser authors could build an entire career on. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, in addition to having one of the absolute greatest titles in all of literature, takes a steady shot at much familiar Dickian subject matter: paranoia, the nature of reality, alienation, and a distrust and suspicion of the powers that be. One need not forget to take into account that this book was written in the early 70's, in the wake of Watergate -- (keep a sharp eye out for the hilarious and disturbing mention of Nixon that Dick subtly inserts into this book --, when the entire country seemed to be falling apart; if this scenario sounds familiar, pay close attention to the police state that Dick envisions in this novel. It actually seemed as if the country might, indeed, be heading toward the future that Dick outlined in this book -- and perhaps, alas, it does now as well. Dick created some great characters for this book. They act as real, living, breathing people do -- irrationally and full of contradictions. Jason Taverner, famous television star and protagonist, is by no means a hero; indeed, in some ways, he is quite a detestable character. On the other hand, the policeman, whom we are ostensibly supposed to hate, is the one whom we ultimately end up feeling sympathy and empathy for. This is yet another instance of Dick's shifting reality of contradictions and subversions. One thing I do not understand is the numerous complaints about this book's ending. I have read about a dozen PKD books, and this is one of the very few that HAD a satisfactory ending. With some of his other books, notably Ubik and The Man In the High Castle, I was quite frustrated at the ending -- not so here. Every loose end, for once, is finally tied up. That said, it would have been better if Dick had left the ending as it stood and not added the epilogue -- but one gets the feeling that Dick did this to parody the pop culture epilogue cliché, especially in light of the book's protagonist. All of this aside, I also think that this is not one of Dick's great books. It's a fine work, to be sure, but he has certainly done better: it is not as original as his best works, and it generally lacks their deeper meaning. This is certainly a great book for the Dick fan to read, but I would recommend starting with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or A Scanner Darkly.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read III,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)This was my first PK Dick book, and i read it mostly because of the mention in waking life and the ruvry title. I think the last sentence in blue on the back cover (something about the "deepest bedrock of the soul) captures the vibe of this book... please do ignore all the b.s. about "neo fascist state" and "informants" and all the other "dystopia" fluff that gets shamelessly flung at Dick, at least when considering to read this book... which, deserves, at least, a description containing soulful and elegiac.
The ending is the only reason i knocked off a star, which, after all that had come before, was a bit disappointing. Not that it was particularly "bad", but afterwards i found my self wishing for something absurd/surreal and entropic... instead, it went' from orgasm to post ejaculatory depression, to cleaning off your bits...
4.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to the author,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)I have been interested in reading Philip K. Dick for some time now, after realizing he was the original author behind two of my favorite science fiction films, "Total Recall" and "Minority Report". Not knowing where to start, I lucked out by picking up "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" on a whim. I will definitely be seeking out more Philip K. Dick novels in the future. "Flow My Tears..." is one of those great novels that works equally well on multiple levels. It is an exciting thriller, while at the same time working as both a haunting allegory of what could happen to our country if too many freedoms are lost, as well as being a fascinating treatise on the concepts of reality, identity and humanity.
One of the unintentionally funny aspects of this novel, which was originally published in 1974, is seeing how Dick envisioned the "future" of 1988, when the novel is set. In Dick's 1988 all vehicles could fly and all phones were picturephones, yet LP's were still the standard format for producing music and the most popular show on television was a musical variety program.
Despite a few miscalculations about the future, it is actually amazing how well this novel stands the test of time. In today's America, as we continue to debate which, if any, civil liberties we are willing to sacrifice in the name of security, the police state of "Flow My Tears..." with forced labor camps, miniature nuclear devices that can be implanted on citizens and detonated at the whim of the police, and where innocent people can be framed and tried for crimes they had nothing to do with, this novel is surprisingly relevant nearly 30 years after its publish date.
4.0 out of 5 stars What it means to be human,
This review is from: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (Paperback)I have read a lot of PKD's works and have always found that his short stories are stronger than his novels. This is because he is great with ideas and concepts but extremely week on character and prose. He tends to recycle his ideas and his subplots and characters are nearly the same in a huge amount of his novels. This is probably because he had to churn these out quickly to make a living.
This novel is by far one of his best. Though some of the sci-fi ideas are recycled, he instead uses it this time as a diving board into a deeper ocean of present day existential angst. What appears to be one of his "What is reality" type of novels on the outset is really a "What does it mean to be human" type of novel in it's core. It may not work as well as a Sci-Fi novel as does Ubik or Three Stigmata (his other two strong works), but it really works well as a means of reflecting life, death, lonelyness, 'popularity', anonyminity, value, empathy, selfishness, self-preservation and meaning.
What it is really about is how people make meaning out of their lives. Jason, the main character is just a means of meeting different characters that find ways of creating meaning out of their ordinary lives. We find that the woman who hates animals has very meaningful experiences with animals. When Jason loathes someone, there is also a bit of self-loathing as well--the anonymous Jason is a person he is trying to escape from.
Many characters have contradictions and the one that seems to show the most is the Policeman in the title. The story could have been left with a darker and more philosophical ending but for some reason an Epilogue is added to make some final twists that may be less satisfactory then what was before. On the otherhand it also seems to make fun of TV endings and makes you realise, that it is afterall, just a story.
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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - June 29 1993)
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