Monday, July 22, 2019


A SCANNER DARKLY (1977) by Philip K. Dick

This novel comes with an author's afterword that makes a few things clear:

1) The characters and settings are based on Dick's own experience living in California during the hippie/counter-culture era;

2) He lost a lot of friends to drug abuse.

Thus, A SCANNER DARKLY is more than a typical ("typical" meaning very weird) Dick novel about shifting realities, paranoia and questions about human identity.

It is also a fictionalized account about the dying days of the drug-addled hippie era. Lives are wasted, minds disintegrate, addiction destroys the bonds and community between humans. It's a sad story, despite the dark humor and compassion.

Since the story is so grounded in lived-in reality, the science fiction elements feel almost unnecessary. No "sense of wonder," no moments of "conceptual breakthrough" are available here - only the bleak insight that drug addiction ruins everything.

Recommended, but kind of a bitter pill to swallow. (The movie version is very good.)

#bookreview #bookreviews #bookcovers #books #literature #philipkdick #ascannerdarkly #drugs #drugabuse #counterculture #sciencefiction #scifi

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