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I'll be buying more Phillip Dick novels...
on June 21, 2004
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).