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UBIK
Philip K. Dick
Read by Anthony Heald
Blackstone Audio, 7 Hours

Philip K. Dick
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928. While attending UC at Berkeley, he dropped out rather than take ROTC training. He went on to write some 36 novels and 5 short story collections. He won the 1962 Hugo for The Man in the High Castle and the 1974 John W. Campbell Award for Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said. He died of heart failure caused by a stroke in 1982.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Ubik: The Screenplay
SF Site Review: Human Is?
SF Site Review: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
SF Site Review: The Zap Gun
SF Site Review: The Simulacra
SF Site Review: Lies, Inc.
SF Site Review: The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
SF Site Review: Time Out Of Joint
SF Site Review: The Game-Players of Titan
SF Site Review: Minority Report
SF Site Review: Now Wait For Last Year
SF Site Review: Dr. Bloodmoney
SF Site Review: Beyond Lies the Wub and The Father-Thing
SF Site Review: Second Variety
SF Site Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Martian Time-Slip and A Scanner Darkly
SF Site Reading List: Philip K. Dick

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Ivy Reisner

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UBIK In the distant future, circa 1992, death has moved from an event, to a process. The newly deceased are placed in cryogenic "cold-pac" and taken to a moratorium where their active minds interact with each other, and, when called upon, with the outside world, in a state called "half life."

Psychic powers have moved into the mainstream, with pre-cogs and telepaths, such as those who work for Ray Hollis, serving as the perfect agents for corporate espionage. This in turn creates a fertile market for prudence organizations, such as Runciter Associates, to hire out anti-psis to win back personal freedom. Hollis tricks Runciter, and a team of his best anti-psis, to a facility on Luna and a humanoid bomb explodes in their midst. This is all just set-up for the journey that will follow.

Runciter is dead, and Joe Chip, a down-on-his-luck psionic tester, who most days can't even pay his own front door, finds himself leading the survivors to get Runciter into cold-pac and bring Hollis down. Until the cream for his coffee sours before his eyes. Until Runciter's face shows up on a 23-cent coin. Until the first of their number tires, and suddenly dies, and decays, in a night. The fight for justice is abandoned, as the group must somehow make sense of the strange happenings around them, and survive if they can, if they aren't themselves already dead.

Time Magazine named UBIK one of the 100 greatest books of All Time (assuming "All Time" started in 1923) and deservedly so. From the outrageous costumes, to the diachronic twists of fantasy, this is a work that does not fail to delight. Typically, science fiction doesn't age well. UBIK was first published in 1969 and explores the wild future of 1992. This book actually works better for its age. We have commerce on the moon, but the characters are always running around looking for pay phones. This only enhances the effect Philip K. Dick was after in his novel.

The audio production is understated, and exceptionally well-done. Music is used sparingly. Anthony Heald uses a variety of voices for the characters, and the advertisement for UBIK that heads each chapter. He is convincing for both male and female dialogue, and gives delightfully off-beat voices to the more eccentric characters. UBIK is a fantastic book, made even better by a brilliant narrator. Watch for a movie based on the novel to be filmed in 2009.

Copyright © 2008 Ivy Reisner

Ivy Reisner is a writer, an obsessive knitter, and a podcaster. Find her at IvyReisner.com.


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