|Submitted by Eric Dantés |
(Dec 23, 2004)
UBIK - that's quite an odd title, isn't it? Just as odd as VALIS, or 'The Man Who Japed'. Wasn't Phil K. Dick a little odd himself, don't you wonder? (The answer to that question is that he was OBB - Odder Beyond Belief. But that's only nice to know if you wanted to.)
Funny titles apart, the book itself isn't as strange as its title might make it out to be. The plot centres around Joe Chip, a run of the mill guy living in a future rife with telepaths, precogs, and whatnot. He just happens to be in the employ of a certain Mr. Glen Runciter, whose company runs a bunch of said precogs, telepaths, etc., to /block/ others of their own ilk.
It's an interesting premise, and one that adds a nice wrinkle to an already clichéd science fiction idea. Dick doesn't toy around with it much, though, because the story veers off into another direction, into what can only be described as mind-f**k territory.
Is reality real only because you can see it? Taste it? Touch it? Today, that question is yet another sf cliché, if only because the Matrix opened your eyes to it. What if reality started re-shaping, re-structuring itself right around you, and you found yourself lost in a place that's... not quite /right/?
Dick explored this, decades ago, and he did it better. Well, maybe not exactly better in /this/ book, because despite the philosophical depth of that question, UBIK is a relentlessly fun read. Household appliances(including doors) operated with coin-slots? A beanie-propellor cap as futuristically fashionable?
It's also the most accessible book I've read of Dick's to date. It's leagues above the dry prose in We Can Build You and The World Jones Made, certainly. Sure, Dick's oft-described 'lazy grammar' makes an appearance more often than required, but you'd be chewing up the pages so fast that you'd barely notice it.
And that's why I recommend this. The narrative is compelling, the plot builds, twists, and explodes. The book leaves you with... oh, no, I'd better not spoil it. If you thought the latter bit of The Man in the High Castle was a mind-fuck, brother, you ain't read nothing yet.