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A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
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A Scanner Darkly (1977)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,55795777 (3.99)132
  1. 10
    Rubicon Harvest by C. W. Kesting (Aeryion)
    Aeryion: The world of Rubicon Harvest seems to be a mixed homage to both Scanner Darkly and A Clockwork Orange in the way the sub-culture of designer drugs are used and abused and how their importance interplay with the expression of self and the experience of perception on reality. The synthetic neurocotic Symphony makes Substance D look like Tic-Tacs. Rubicon Harvest deserves it's place among the medicated plots of these other great postmodern works of spec-fiction!… (more)
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English (89)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Slovak (1)  German (1)  All (94)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
It seemed oddly appropriate to read Philip Dick’s Scanner Darkly on my cell-phone. After all, it’s a book envisioning advanced technology; why not use modern technology to enjoy it. The plot also envisions a sadly decayed sociology, with concerns equally valid today, as the lines between guilty and betrayed grow cruelly frayed.

Substance D is a drug that destroys its addicts from within, splitting the mind in two, tearing the self apart. But the law enforcement agents tackling it might themselves be torn in two, part of the problem and the solution; hiding their identities from everyone, even themselves. It leads to cruel dilemmas and even crueler plots.

Scanner Darkly isn’t an easy read, but it’s filled with plausible dialog, deniable confusion, and characters deeply fascinating and flawed. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up the story again, forgetting who’s who just as surely as the characters do, and remembering too. Until that point where the plot begins to reveal itself instead of reveling in decay… until that point where it’s almost impossible to put the book down again because you’ve almost guessed but surely not and then you
have to know.

The novel reads as powerfully today as it must have done when first written. It blends hard realities with hilarious trials and tribulations, and it hides a wounded heart.

Disclosure: I borrowed it and I really enjoyed it. ( )
  SheilaDeeth | May 1, 2018 |
This was an interesting book for me to read, a lot of what I found with it was "I just am not really liking the story, or how it is being told". But the writing was really quite enjoyable. There is at the end a "Author's Note" which he talks about how he was "not moralizing" but I have to say that there is a bit of a problem that I have (though it could well be a lot to do with when it was written) it is that the officer who writes a report which says: "The black guy pulled out his phone, and was facing away from me, and I was scared for my life, so I shot him multiple times" vs. "The guy pulled out his gun, and pointed it at me, and I knew I could talk him down" and claiming that there is "no judgement" in that. Which technically is true, but it's a case where a marginalized group is described (factually) with "negative stereotypes" which may be genuinely factually correct, but the thing to note here is that in my examples (which are not from the book, because as far as I can tell, all characters are pretty much "white male" (though there are 2 or 3 female characters)).

So "overall" liked the book, but not a whole lot... ( )
  JigmeDatse | Apr 28, 2018 |
Dropping this Dick novel about drug usage fifty pages in. It is too gritty and whacko for me, and I am afraid the conceit might be that our normie has been hallucinating all along. I am impressed by the reality of the imagined future; I wish there were relateable characters or a clearer plot. ( )
1 vote pammab | Mar 5, 2018 |
I'm a big Pynchon fan, too, so don't get me wrong here, but it seems to me like the main difference between Dick's writing style and Pynchon's--or at least, the difference that mostly accounts for Dick being treated as a "pulp" author with some interesting ideas whereas Pynchon is considered a major "literary" figure--is simply that Dick tends to write in crisp, straightforward sentences that just directly say what he means to say, whereas Pynchon's writing is (in)famously dense with allusion and rambling esoteric figurative expressions to the point where it can be an intellectual exercise in its own right just trying to figure out what the hell Pynchon is trying to say.

All of which makes major Dick novels like “Do Androids Dream ofElectric Sheep?” or “Radio Free Albemuth” sort of resemble, IMHO, what “Gravity's Rainbow” might have looked like if Pynchon had been working with editors who expected him to actually keep tight deadlines.

I think Dick was really gifted as a wry satirist, too, and this is something I think he's often under-appreciated for. Probably my favourite single episode in all of Dick's stories I've ever read--and I was quite overjoyed to see this faithfully recreated in the film adaptation--is still the "suicide" sequence from “A Scanner Darkly”. In short, I don't think Dick was ever bad at writing--he just doesn't seem to have had any real interest in the kind of writing that people like James Joyce or William Burroughs (or Pynchon, for whom to my mind it seems that both Joyce and Burroughs were major stylistic influences) were famous for.

If you're into SF, read the rest of this review on my blog. ( )
4 vote antao | Dec 10, 2017 |
Retrospectively giving this book 5 stars after fruitlessly looking for fake bugs on my desk. ( )
1 vote michaeljoyce | Dec 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Burgdorf, Karl-UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gasser, ChristianAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
North, HeidiCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochagavia, CarlosCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Webb, TrevorCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair.
Era uma vez um tipo que passava todo o dia a catar piolhos. O médico disse-lhe que não tinha piolhos.
Quotations
Robert Arctor halted. Stared at them, at the straights in their fat suits, their fat ties, their fat shoes, and he thought, Substance D can't destroy their brains; they have none.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679736654, Paperback)

Mind- and reality-bending drugs factor again and again in Philip K. Dick's hugely influential SF stories. A Scanner Darkly cuts closest to the bone, drawing on Dick's own experience with illicit chemicals and on his many friends who died from drug abuse. Nevertheless, it's blackly farcical, full of comic-surreal conversations between people whose synapses are partly fried, sudden flights of paranoid logic, and bad trips like the one whose victim spends a subjective eternity having all his sins read to him, in shifts, by compound-eyed aliens. (It takes 11,000 years of this to reach the time when as a boy he discovered masturbation.) The antihero Bob Arctor is forced by his double life into warring double personalities: as futuristic narcotics agent "Fred," face blurred by a high-tech scrambler, he must spy on and entrap suspected drug dealer Bob Arctor. His disintegration under the influence of the insidious Substance D is genuine tragicomedy. For Arctor there's no way off the addict's downward escalator, but what awaits at the bottom is a kind of redemption--there are more wheels within wheels than we suspected, and his life is not entirely wasted. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:18 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A drug dealer of the future periodically moves away from his spaced-out world to become an informer for narcotics agents until he becomes unable to separate his two personalities.

» see all 7 descriptions

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