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A Scanner Darkly (1977)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,4631201,110 (3.98)146
Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D--which Arctor takes in massive doses--gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.… (more)
Recently added bybrendanowicz, staunchlyblue, private library, kaiju39, M.Bonus, Mike_O, cadolph, ejmw, LiveAndrew
Legacy LibrariesTerence Kemp McKenna
  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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» See also 146 mentions

English (113)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  German (1)  Slovak (1)  All languages (119)
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
I wanted to like this so much and, as when I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it was just...hard. I'm glad I read it before watching the movie, because otherwise the movie would have confused me ten times more, but it's still a challenging read. Not unpleasant, just very challenging and didn't connect with me as much as I wished it would have. ( )
  ashelocke | Feb 20, 2021 |
Of all of Dick's novels that I've read so far, this is probably my least favorite. It's occasionally an interesting, paranoiac fantasy, but it kind of meanders all over the place and never builds up any kind of urgency. There are some interesting glimpses of life in the screwed-up, drugged future, but the characters mostly feel like they're lacking depth. Overall, it just kind of comes out to be okay. ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
I love Philip K Dick; when I discovered his work maybe 10-15 years ago it felt like someone had finally written works centred around the obsessions and weirdnesses I thought where mine alone to bear. For some reason I skipped this book, maybe I thought seeing the movie was enough.

I ended up reading this for a friends-at-work book club, and it made me incredibly sad. Other Dick books (including and especially VALIS) have a science fiction or gonzo veneer that allows you to suspend your disbelief and imagine the content drifting back to earth, to you, but this book is barely science fiction. In many ways the science fiction aspects are there just to simplify some of the procedurals.

Basic premise: The story of a a circle of friends all caught up in abusive drug cycles, and the protagonist is a double agent trying to find the source of the guaranteed fatal and addictive drug Substance-D. Things get ambiguous.

I've noticed this is a book that people I know really hate or love. The ones that hate it often find it alien or too real; the ones that love it definitely recall very real moments in their lives or their friends' lives. It also helps I think if you understand the disorientation that Dick portrays so well, either via depression/paranoia (as I do) or via other forms. One thing I do think it does a reasonable job of doing is laying out. for those with empathy, and empathy for the characters, an understanding that they aren't just to be sneered at or pitied. They all have their own reasons for being in this situation. They are generally all three dimensional, with goodnesses and loves and weaknesses inside their flawed comic incompetencies.
Reading this book with people who feel chills of alienation at this book, this book has been a surprisingly good way of getting people to realize that avenue for empathy, even if this book possibly turns them off other Dick works because they decide the distancing of science fiction settings would not clear or darken the clarity of the author-characteristic themes that Dick lays down so nakedly here.

In may ways I feel this is the wrong Dick book to start with if people want to be gently coaxed into Philip K. Dick works. It's not very exciting, it doesn't have an exotic setting, or some of the craziness one can be entertained by. Conversely though, this and Valis to me feel like Dick's most important works when it comes to understanding a large segment of ourselves, as people suck in this actual reality. ( )
  NaleagDeco | Dec 13, 2020 |
Probably my favorite of the "druggy" PKD novels. Less notable for its science-fictional elements than for its grappling with the casualties and culture of drug abuse.

Sulzer SFF discussion notes: http://positronchicago.blogspot.com/2016/03/sulzer-sff-scanner-darkly.html ( )
  jakecasella | Sep 21, 2020 |
This book is so open to pastiche. Chicks, straights, narks and like that could all do one. So I won't bother; there are a bunch of them on Goodreads already.

PKD here writes a Requiem for a Dream decades before that film came out, showing from a convincing internal viewpoint what the disintegration of a mind through drug abuse might be like. Initially amusing, the continuous sequence of ridiculous conversations and bonkers, apparently incomprehensible events soon palls as the plot seems to go nowhere. But stick around! The back half goes typically PKD crazy as it becomes clear to the reader (but not to our hapless protagonist, despite his growing paranoia) that there are machinations afoot. The last quarter then turns both tragic and startling as one discovers what is really going on. This abrupt turn away from the humourous heightens the tragedy (Romeo and Juliet, anyone?) and results in a powerful culmination to the book, which does for the '60s American psychedelic subculture what Trainspotting did for '90s British heroin subculture. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 113 (next | show all)
Einer der eigenständigsten amerikanischen Autoren ..., der das meiste der europäischen Avantgarde wie Nabelschau in einer Sackgasse erscheinen läßt.
added by rat_in_a_cage | editSunday Times
 

» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
久志, 浅倉Translatorsecondary authorsome 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
浩生, 山形Translatorsecondary 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.
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.)
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Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D--which Arctor takes in massive doses--gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

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