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A Scanner Darkly (1977)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,8141281,128 (3.97)1 / 150
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 byprivate library, fogus, SarahClarkson, SavageInside, ScarlettStewart, CodyWard, ByronDB, Sanjive
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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English (121)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Slovak (1)  German (1)  All languages (128)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
A classic metaphysical exploration

Phillip K. Dick explores the fundamental meaning of life through the medium of Science Fiction. As a reader, I was drawn into the dichotomy of reality vs. unreality through the mind of the main character. Unknowingly, switching back and forth between intense plot changes, I became the protagonist and speeded towards the mind-blowing end as confused as he. An excellent, deeply probing novel addressing one of the major themes of Life. Why are we here? ( )
  Windyone1 | May 10, 2022 |
I've never read anything by Philip K. Dick before, to be honest. This here is my first novel by him. And I'm having a hard time thinking about what to write because it's almost like a lot of things I've read about drug users, yet, nothing like I've ever read before. It's no wonder why the movie was made the way it was - any other way wouldn't have done the novel justice.

Before you jump ahead of me, I haven't watched the movie either. I started to, but never came around to completing it. I wasn't ready for another movie made in the same vein as Waking Life.

Another reason I decided on holding off on the film was because I wanted to read the novel first - something I rarely do these days. I picked up a copy, used, at Hastings during the outing where I discovered it was closing. It's one of the last books I purchased from the store and will be very dear to me as will the others.

The back of the book reads as follows:

"Cops and criminals have always been interdependent, but no novel has explored that perverse symbiosis more powerfully than A Scanner Darkly. Bob Arctor is a dealer of the leathally addictive drug called Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, he has taken on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D - which Arctor takes in mammoth doses - gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize that he is narcing on himself."

What I expected from that semi-misleading description was a dual personality. Here we have Fred following Bob, never being the wiser. However, Fred, at least at the beginning, knows he's Bob Arctor and vice versa. However, the deeper he gets into Substance D, the more the becomes two individual minds within his own head.

The ending also leads me down a stray path, leaving me wanting more. In other words, it's misleading to the core, but never completely leaving me disappointed with the story in of itself. ( )
  ennuiprayer | Jan 14, 2022 |
Not a fan. ( )
  dualmon | Nov 17, 2021 |
When Drugs and Prisons Become State Business

Philip K. Dick merges two things he experienced personally—the drug culture of the late 1960s and 1970s and paranoia about being watched by various policing organizations, particularly the FBI and CIA— into a novel about a cop whose personality splits in half by living in two states: watcher and watched. The novel breaks down into three acts: Robert/Fred as a cop working undercover to ferret out drug kingpins; Robert/Fred in full blown confusion about his identity and paranoid over his safety; Robert/Bruce in a rehab facility that works to keep his blind to his identity while pushing him ever closer to being a walking vegetable. It’s enough to make you run away from your own medicine cabinet screaming, constantly looking over your shoulder to see who might be watching you.

Robert Arctor is an undercover narcotics cop in the future (1990s in the novel). He lives in a house he owns with two roomers, both notorious dopeheads. All of them think about narcotics incessantly, obsess on getting high, staying high, and worrying about getting drugs, especially deadly D, a synthetic concoction that produces neurological disorder in users. He's mad for Donna Hawthorne, a woman he can get near and be friends with but can’t have in the way he desires. In his role as Fred, the narc, he wears a scrambler suit when at police HQ, as do his fellow narcs, so as to preserve their anonymity. Soon enough, we see paranoia taking over Robert/Fred to the point where he believes someone is out to get him, possibly his roomers. He has scanners installed in his house to watch their, and his, every move, resulting in a distinct split in his personality. Operating as two people can be quite taxing, to put it mildly. In the end, due to his own heavy use of D, his mind fails him. Worse, unbeknownst to him, he has been a pawn in a much larger game orchestrated by the Feds and betrayed by his greatest desire. In the end, he finds, or more appropriately, loses himself in a rehabilitation home and camp designed to do the exact opposite.

Few have captured what it’s like to be addled by drugs as Dick in this novel. The conversations among the roommates border on lunacy. And they are funny much of the time. Less so is the deception and manipulation in the rehab home, particularly when we realize the goal of rehab is mental destruction.

A Scanner Darkly isn’t really science fiction, certainly not like his novels Martian Time-Slip, The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and others. It more captures a moment of his life in California when he was raging on drugs and in and out of mental institutions. You might consider it Exhibit A in why you want to avoid drugs: for your personal mental health and to avoid a quasi police state intent on tossing the afflicted into private prisons. ( )
1 vote write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
When Drugs and Prisons Become State Business

Philip K. Dick merges two things he experienced personally—the drug culture of the late 1960s and 1970s and paranoia about being watched by various policing organizations, particularly the FBI and CIA— into a novel about a cop whose personality splits in half by living in two states: watcher and watched. The novel breaks down into three acts: Robert/Fred as a cop working undercover to ferret out drug kingpins; Robert/Fred in full blown confusion about his identity and paranoid over his safety; Robert/Bruce in a rehab facility that works to keep his blind to his identity while pushing him ever closer to being a walking vegetable. It’s enough to make you run away from your own medicine cabinet screaming, constantly looking over your shoulder to see who might be watching you.

Robert Arctor is an undercover narcotics cop in the future (1990s in the novel). He lives in a house he owns with two roomers, both notorious dopeheads. All of them think about narcotics incessantly, obsess on getting high, staying high, and worrying about getting drugs, especially deadly D, a synthetic concoction that produces neurological disorder in users. He's mad for Donna Hawthorne, a woman he can get near and be friends with but can’t have in the way he desires. In his role as Fred, the narc, he wears a scrambler suit when at police HQ, as do his fellow narcs, so as to preserve their anonymity. Soon enough, we see paranoia taking over Robert/Fred to the point where he believes someone is out to get him, possibly his roomers. He has scanners installed in his house to watch their, and his, every move, resulting in a distinct split in his personality. Operating as two people can be quite taxing, to put it mildly. In the end, due to his own heavy use of D, his mind fails him. Worse, unbeknownst to him, he has been a pawn in a much larger game orchestrated by the Feds and betrayed by his greatest desire. In the end, he finds, or more appropriately, loses himself in a rehabilitation home and camp designed to do the exact opposite.

Few have captured what it’s like to be addled by drugs as Dick in this novel. The conversations among the roommates border on lunacy. And they are funny much of the time. Less so is the deception and manipulation in the rehab home, particularly when we realize the goal of rehab is mental destruction.

A Scanner Darkly isn’t really science fiction, certainly not like his novels Martian Time-Slip, The Man in the High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and others. It more captures a moment of his life in California when he was raging on drugs and in and out of mental institutions. You might consider it Exhibit A in why you want to avoid drugs: for your personal mental health and to avoid a quasi police state intent on tossing the afflicted into private prisons. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (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.)
(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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