I have heard Ubik described as the most accessible of PKD's works. I don't know if this is true, per se, but it is a good one. I love the description you get on the back: "Glen Runciter is dead, or everyone else is." There is also mentions of how Ubik is everything you need in a aerosol can (I think one quote says something like "salvation in a can"). Hearing the praise for the book, and reading the back cover, I felt I really should give it a try.

Besides Runciter, the older and wiser man who is largely replacement organs and how powerfully leads a company, you have Joe Chip, the younger and dumber man who is all natural and that's a shame. PKD-isms quickly start showing up. Everyone is dressed in odd clothing. Light drug abuse as a daily routine climbs to the surface. The women introduced by the first couple of chapters are powerful, needed by their men, and somewhat controlling or confusing.

I dig the books way of handling lots of things. In this novel, we have the war between the psychics, with their powers of control and mind reading and precognition, and the inertials, whose powers seem to be much what they say they are: an inertia that keeps the psychics from being able to bend the world to their whim. Outside of this, we have a new style funeral home where the dead are kept under cold-pac until they are called upon, not to rise again, but to share some of their remaining thoughts with the living. Half mad-science and half "mediumship", Dick paints a world you have sympathy for, where the dearly departed are being held to just a little bit longer. There is also the idea of "coin-op" gone awry where techology nickel and dimes you. You must pay a nickel to use your front door, for instance, and a quarter to get a good cup of coffee from your own coffee pot.

Each chapter begins with a blurb about Ubik, and how it helps to clean this or toughen up that or flavor this or gives you the strength to make it through the day. These blurbs help to strengthen paranoia at first but later take on a surreal back seat as the main story gets kicking and you are trying to figure out what is going on.

What I most appreciate about this novel is the fact that never, not even at the end, does the full force of "the truth" hit you because you are only given guesses at it through the characters' minds. This is a ballsy maneuver on Dick's (I swear, that was not meant to be a pun) part. Instead of becoming a book of exposition, it becomes a surreal trip into a fantasy world that probably shouldn't exist even if it did, and is quite fun to read about.

My score is 86.

This review written by W. Doug Bolden

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