Ubik is one of the weirder science fiction books I've read.
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.
the plot this novel tries to express in terms of science fiction the main themes within valentinian gnosticism. Themes which he would overtly express in Valis in more autobiographical terms. The ideas in this are often taken up in his other novels (for example the galactic pot healer has a strong gnostic undercurrent as well).
Philip K. Dick was "worlder" in writing. He never explained his worlds in overt ways, but it was through the stream of consciousness of his main character that we discover the future, but also are privy to a character's mind that takes the fro granted the strangeness of the future world, just we take for granted our world
He had a clarity from which he would construct the realities of his worlds. worlds like "conapt" or "precog" "teep" etc spill over into his other novels that have a similar shared reality. He excels at writing ceurotic characters' stream of consciousness where they take for granted the bizarre reality they live in. Finally dick in this novel is hilarious The descriptions of fashion in this alternate reality are quite amazing, and hilarious.
The beig weakness in this novel as well as many others is the two dimensionality of the female charaters, and the tendency ttowards misogyny in his books, but it was also the sing of thetimes and the audiences that read his books, and his own personal history