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VALIS by Philip K. Dick
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VALIS (original 1981; edition 2011)

by Philip K. Dick

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3,180481,759 (3.94)91
Member:pnorth
Title:VALIS
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Mariner Books (2011), Edition: Reissue, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Science Fiction

Work details

Valis by Philip K. Dick (1981)

  1. 10
    Briefing for a Descent into Hell by Doris Lessing (paradoxosalpha)
    paradoxosalpha: Spiritually-oriented narratives in which sanity and reality are brought into hypothetical opposition, both with science-fictional elements.
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» See also 91 mentions

English (43)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  English (48)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
It's highly readable and enjoyable in parts, virtually incomprehensible in others, a sojourn into insanity and the Gnostic worldview (which appears to be insanity anyway) and Richard Nixon as the anti-Christ of sorts... ( )
  davidmp | Nov 25, 2016 |
Way out there. Loved it. ( )
  Tracy_Tomkowiak | Sep 18, 2016 |
Is this a work of brilliance? It's possible. A better person might have had the patience and discernment to decide. I had trouble navigating an inpenetratable obscurantism that spreads through the pages like a plague. Gnostic preachings, archaic theological exegeses, rambling philosophical didacticism...very tough going. Not just because it was obscure or even difficult, but mostly because it was tedious. Might a good editor have been called upon?

I wouldn't be the first to suggest that PKD's books make better movies, despite his fertile imagination, penetrating questioning and infectious paranoia. Anyone who has Amazon Prime and has yet to watch the Amazon original production of The Man in the High Castle has a delicious treat in store.

A challenging question is What is Valis About? I'll give it a rough back-of-the-envelope attempt, no doubt insufficient. It's about a character and his alter ego, who is the author Philip K Dick by another name, and his struggle with his sanity. Or it's about the character and his understanding of the gap in history that followed the fall of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, only to have history really resume in 1974; this character has mastered a wealth of ancient wisdom including the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi. It's about a supra-human technology that reorients people with rationality against the predations of our irrational world. It's about a psychotic refugee from the drug culture who's trying to keep his bearings even in the face of the senseless deaths of friends.

If that sounds good to you, and you're a patient and persistent reader who is willing to try to separate the wheat from the chaff, have at it. There are morsels of good in there. ( )
  stellarexplorer | Aug 23, 2016 |
Very confusing and somewhat annoying at first since the author seemed to keep repeating himself on many points. As the story developed though, I realized that it was all a very well-planned storytelling device. By the time I finished this book, I realized how thoroughly it had pulled me onto the crazy edge that the author was dancing on while writing the story. Very, very clever Mr. Dick! ( )
  ScoLgo | Apr 11, 2016 |
The main character in VALIS is Horselover Fat, an author surrogate. "Horselover" echoes the Greek etymology of the name Philip, while in German, Dick's surname means "fat".

Dick, as narrator, states early in the book that the creation of the character "Horselover Fat" is to allow him some "much needed objectivity." In this particular work the narrator is also a fictional character provided as a cool, pragmatic counter-point to Horselover's slow disintegration.

Even though the book is written in the first-person-autobiographical, for most of the book Dick treats himself and Fat as two separate characters; he describes conversations and arguments with Fat, and harshly if sympathetically criticizes his opinions and writings. The major subject of these dialogues is spirituality, as Dick/Fat is/are ostensibly obsessed with several religions and philosophies, including Christianity, Taoism, Gnosticism and even Jungian psychoanalysis, in the search for a cure for what he believes is simultaneously a personal and a cosmic wound. Near the end of the book the messianic figure, incarnated by the child Sophia (a name associated with Wisdom in many Gnostic texts, literally meaning "wisdom" in Greek [ Σοφία]), temporarily cures him, and the narrator describes his surprise that Horselover Fat has suddenly disappeared from his side.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Louit, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Masera, RubénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
North, HeidiCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pék, ZoltánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosvall, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weiner, TomNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Russell Galen

who showed me the right way
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Horselover Fat's nervous breakdown began the day he got the phonecall from Gloria asking if he had any Nembutals.
Quotations
Fish cannot carry guns.
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Disambiguation notice
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679734465, Paperback)

The first of Dick's three final novels (the others are Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). Known as science fiction only for lack of a better category, "Valis" takes place in our world and may even be semi-autobiographical.

The proponent of the novel, Horselover Fat, is thrust into a theological quest when he receives communion in a burst of pink laser light. From the cancer ward of a bay area hospital to the ranch of a fraudulent charismatic religious figure who turns out to have a direct com link with God, Dick leads us down the twisted paths of Gnostic belief, mixed with his own bizarre and compelling philosophy. Truly an eye opening look at the nature of consciousness and divinity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:38 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Horselover Fat begins receiving what he considers to be divine revelations that imply extraterrestrial forces are interfering in the affairs of the Earth.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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