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Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Ubik (original 1969; edition 1978)

by Philip K. Dick (Author)

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4,151None1,225 (3.99)89
Authors:Philip K. Dick (Author)
Info:Panther (1978), Edition: (Reissue), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction

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Ubik by Philip K. Dick (1969)

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Ubik is a book where you don't really know what's happening until the end. It's skillfully written enough that you know as much as the characters throughout the story. It comes together fast at the end and makes for a satisfying story and conclusion. ( )
1 vote SebastianHagelstein | Apr 6, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Warning: Use only as directed. And with caution.

Written in 1969, Ubik is one of Philip K. Dick’s most popular science fiction novels. It’s set in a future 1992 where some humans have develop psi and anti-psi powers which they are willing to hire out to individuals or companies who want to spy (or block spying) on others. Also in this alternate 1992, if you’ve got the money, you can put your beloved recently-deceased relatives into “coldpac” where they can be stored in half-life and you can visit with them for years after their death.

As Ubik begins, Glen Runciter, the head of one of New York City’s top anti-psi organizations, discovers that all the operatives of the top psi organization (whose telepathic fields they like to keep track of) have disappeared. This means less work for Runciter’s employees and he’s concerned about how they’re going to get paid. When Runicter’s company is offered a big job on the moon, he figures they’ve found the missing telepaths and he’s eager to hire out as many of his inactive inertials as he can, including the new one who has a strange and disturbing power: she can nullify events before they happen. But when Runciter’s inertials get to the moon, disaster strikes, and when they return to Earth, they find that life is not how they left it. In fact, time seems to be going backward and something is killing them off one by one. The only thing that might help is Ubik — a mysterious product in an aerosol spray can... If only they can find it!

Ubik is a fast-paced SF thriller full of classic PKD themes such as an unreliable reality, time running backward, precognition, telepathy, paranoia, drug abuse, hallucinations, and spirituality. The story is quite funny in places and includes a bit of horror, too.

There are several plot twists in Ubik, including a big one at the end, which means that the reader is as unsure about what’s going on as the characters are until the big reveal and, still, there are some questions left unanswered. Mainly we're left contemplating what PKD is suggesting about death, salvation, and God. Ubik is one of those books where, at the end, you have to review the plot in light of your new knowledge just so you can try to put it all together.

I listened to Blackstone Audio’s version read by Anthony Heald. Heald successfully handles a rather large cast of alive and dead humans, not to mention the talking appliances and doors. Thanks to Heald’s skills, Ubik on audio was thoroughly entertaining.

Ubik has been named by Time Magazine as one of the Top 100 English-Language Novels From 1923 (list compiled by Lev Grossman). I can’t say that I agree with this accolade, but I can say that I enjoyed Ubik and can recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction. For Philip K. Dick fans, Ubik is an essential read. ( )
1 vote Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |

Whether it's because the ideas Dick writes about have bled into popular culture or subsequent writers have expanded upon what he wrote, this feels unremarkable and worn. For a book that's primarily about the ideas that makes it easily digested and quickly forgotten. I wish I could have read this book when it was just published and experienced it as it was meant to be experienced. ( )
  StigE | Feb 22, 2014 |
Glen Runciter's firm is in the "prudence business" - protecting people's minds against others' psychic powers, such as mind reading. One mission goes awry, and the team must communicate between living and dead, though it is not easy to tell who is what. Things start to revert to earlier forms, in an entropy fashion. ( )
  ohernaes | Feb 14, 2014 |
There's a lot going on in this novel beyond the main storyline, some of it good, some of it not so good. Written in 1969, this novel was written in the future (1992), which is now our past. Dick got virtually none of his future predictions right in this novel, which casts it in a bit of a negative light. The main plot is that Glen Runciter runs an anti-psi agency to counter the use of agencies that are using telepathy and other paranormal means to gain an advantage in the business world. Joe Chip is his right hand man who tests anti-psy abilities for the agencies. Things change when they encounter a woman who has a talent they have never seen before, which is to change the past. Chip recognizes that she is very dangerous, which proves to be true. The other main aspect of the plot is that people don't die. They go into cold stasis where they are still sort of alive and people can communicate with them, something that figures very prominently in the novel and becomes the main plot line after being a secondary one.

I liked the tone and voice of the novel. It moves at a fast pace, and there is always either action or intrigue taking place. On the other hand, the novel was often confusing, especially about mid-way through. As I mentioned, his predictions of the future weren't very accurate. In his future, machines can talk and have personalities. It also requires coins to operate them, even simple things like opening a door. He has the foresight to come up with these machines, but then they use nickels and dimes to operate them, so he completely ignored the concept of inflation. There is also never a resolution to the plot line where Runciter's people are ambushed. That was more or less ignored about half way through. As I mentioned, there is some good and some bad, but by and large this was an entertaining novel.

Carl Alves - author of Reconquest: Mother Earth ( )
1 vote Carl_Alves | Jan 31, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bishop, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorémieux, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Espín, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heald, AnthonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langowski, JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laux, Renatesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podaný, RichardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rauch, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robertson, IanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At three-thirty A.M. on the night of June 5, 1992, the top telepath in the Sol System fell off the map in the offices of Runciter Associates in New York City.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679736646, Paperback)

Nobody but Philip K. Dick could so successfully combine SF comedy with the unease of reality gone wrong, shifting underfoot like quicksand. Besides grisly ideas like funeral parlors where you swap gossip for the advice of the frozen dead, Ubik (1969) offers such deadpan farce as a moneyless character's attack on the robot apartment door that demands a five-cent toll:

"I'll sue you," the door said as the first screw fell out.

Joe Chip said, "I've never been sued by a door. But I guess I can live through it."

Chip works for Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems--but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip's beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter's face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik ("safe when taken as directed")?

The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn't who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and--with the help of Ubik--the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:02 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A dead man sends haunting warnings back from the grave, and Joe Chip must solve these mysteries to determine his own real or surreal existence

(summary from another edition)

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