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A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

A Scanner Darkly (1977)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,10282877 (4)120
  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 (77)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  Slovak (1)  German (1)  All languages (82)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
February 2012: Bob Archter is our main character. He’s also known as Fred, a police narc. As happens w/ many a narc, Bob soon gets addicted to the drugs he takes in order to insinuate himself in the druggy culture. But we begin the story through the eyes of Jerry, the addict who’s convinced that biting aphids have taken over his body and life. Jerry’s friend, the addict Luckman, lives and hangs out w/ Bob Archter, and their mutual roommate Jim Bell. Bob’s girlfriend, Donna Hawthorne, is also his drug dealer. Archter is addicted to drugs, and eventually he's sent to rehab at New Path. There he becomes a guy named Bruce. Donna and a New Path worker, Mike, are investigating New Path b/c they think it’s a drug manufacturer. It generates Substance D and then profits, in terms of free labor, from the latas that Substance D creates. But what’s New Path’s larger goal? World domination.
Intercalated in the novel’s narrative are German sentences and bits of Pauline scripture: “We see through a glass or scanner darkly.”

March 2011: A drug-addicted police narc is our protagonist. This book simply messes with your head. More than that, A Scanner Darkly, has something profound to say about the nature of human life itself -- or so it seemed to me. The novel's denouement felt like a religious experience in and of itself. Amazing. Profound. Darkly funny. Bonus: Dick pulls in German quotes from Goethe's Faust and Beethoven's Fidelio. Bonus Downside: the audiobook narrator can't read or pronounce German to save his life, so I had to purchase a hardcopy of the novel just to read the German bits. I mean come on; if you can pay for Paul Giamati (sp? the actor) to read the book, certainly you could spring for an actual German reader to read the bits that Giamati (again, sp?) absolutely schlaughterzah, no? But that's only a minor complaint; don't let my teutonosnobbery scare you away. If you don't care about German, you won't care about Giamati's pronunciation gaffes, nor will your audiobook experience be tainted in the slightest. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
95 pages in, i realized there was no point in reading the remaining ~180 pages because I didn't care how the plot ended,
  dickmanikowski | Mar 11, 2016 |
Only a few years after To Your Scattered Bodies Go, this book shows what sci-fi of that era was actually capable of: a supporting female character with an interesting and complex inner world; multifaceted main characters with very human worries, faults, and ambivalence; and brief glimpses of something profound and deeply philosophical, making you feel you didn't waste your time on pure brain candy. It's not an easy book, and I have it four stars instead of three more because I was impressed by it than because I liked it, but it challenged me and I recognize the accomplishment in that. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Bob Arctor's lives in Los Angeles in a house full of drug users. Soon, Arctor becomes a "Substance D" (AKA "Slow Death") addict. However, Arctor is simultaneously living a parallel life as Agent Fred, a undercover policeman assigned to spy on Arctor's housemates.

Substance D causes these two personalities to compete for control of their mutual brain. For example, Arctor is in love with drug dealer Donna, Agent Fred is determined to stop here. When Agent Fred's superiors learn of his addiction, they terminate him as a narcotics agent. Then Donna takes Arctor to a rehab clinic. As Arctor starts to go through withdrawal, he learns that Donna is also a narcotics agent assigned to infiltrate the rehab clinic "New-Path" to determine it's funding source.

"New-Path" gives Arctor/Fred the new name "Bruce" and sets out to break his and the other patient's will. Bruce becomes a worker on the New-Path commune where he continues to suffer from Substance D withdraw. While the police now discount him, Bruce realizes the rows of blue flowers growing between the corn plans are the source of Substance D. Bruce connects with other undercover agents posing as recovering addicts and passes on this information.

I found the novel so bizarre (from the drug-trip narrations) and uninteresting that I didn't finish it. ( )
  ktoonen | Feb 22, 2016 |
This was the second time I've read this book, and the first time I rather disliked it – it made me really depressed. (And I was also busy trying to figure out specifically WHY my brother picked it to give me as a gift)!
However, this time I liked it much more – I read it all in one day, staying up way too late to finish it. I think that it's one of those books that really benefits from a second reading – knowing how things turn out allows you to go back and see implications that one might have missed the first time around.
‘A Scanner Darkly' is a very anti-drug book. But it's not merely anti-drug, it's also deeply distrustful of police, government and rehab, suggesting, through a slightly-science-fictional premise, that users of drugs, although victims of their own bad decisions, may also be dupes of authority. ("Just ‘cause you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you.")
Based, autobiographically, on a period in Philip K. Dick's own life, the book portrays the mentality of addiction extremely believably, as he tells the story of Bob Arctor, an undercover police narc who gradually loses sight of his own identity: is he ‘Officer Fred,' an upstanding member of society – or is he really Bob, one of a houseful of junkies who live for their next fix of Substance D – the drug they accurately call "slow death"?
Who is supplying Substance D, and what is the agenda behind it? ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (43 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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.
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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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)

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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.

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