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Ubik (1969)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7,3941561,185 (4)167
Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

Named one of Time's 100 Best Books, Ubik is a mind-bending, classic novel about the perception of reality from Philip K. Dick, the Hugo Award-winning author of The Man in the High Castle. "From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from."????Lev Grossman, Time Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business ???? deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all. "More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo."????Roberto Bolao

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English (135)  French (8)  Spanish (5)  Italian (3)  German (2)  Hungarian (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (156)
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
Wooh, this is full-on Philip K. Dick. Nowhere near as accessible and relateable as The Man In The High Castle or Do Androids Dream... It's as paranoid as A Scanner Darkly, though even more out there.

It's set in a near future for Dick (a recent past now) where people with psionic abilities have emerged; we follow a firm of 'inertials' - people who are paid to dampen the abilities of the 'psionics'. A mission goes wrong, and frankly after that no-one is really sure what is real. Which isn't to say it's difficult to follow - you just don't know whose perceptions and ideas to trust.

It's a great read, if you're into that kind of thing, although if you don't find the sound of this appealing then I doubt you'd derive much value in it. ( )
  thisisstephenbetts | Nov 25, 2023 |
Philip K Dick is a weird writer. He often seems torn between writing staid sci fi pulp adventure and dumping 100 ideas, each one of us which would be a fascinating whole story in its own right. For example, early on there's a section where a door handle demands a nickel before it will let the main character out. I've seen this excerpt posted many times as "prescient". But, although this kind of coin operated microtransaction is ubiquitous (heh) in the book, there's only one other scene where it's talked about meaningfully (an automated barista). Otherwise it's used for a few characterisation sentences about the MC being broke (a baffling trait constantly referenced but with no cause suggested) and just as a constant thing people need change for. The book is not interested in talking about the sort of world where a bizarre amount of things are coin operated.

It's not a big deal, but it's symptomatic of the book. It's hard to talk about without spoiling, but a major idea in the book turns out to be a total red herring. Which is fine! But it's just weird how often he drops and then seems to forget about ideas. The actual antagonist is introduced off hand early on and then reappears right at the end. Which again, fine. But the whole story about the company of psychics just fizzles completely. It's stated they did in fact create a conspiracy involving Pat to destroy a bunch of anti-psychics but they just... let her die alongside the rest? Basically all of that stuff is very confusing and either just fades out or doesn't make sense. It's stated explicitly that for some reason Jory can never be moved, ever, because someone is paying the mortuary a lot of money to keep him in that place, despite him eating everyone else in half-life. There is not even the slightest hint of why this would be the case. The whole thing around time and things regressing back to 1939 is sort of vaguely explained but it makes no sense (to be clear this is not the *interesting* makes no sense).

The book just feels like it changes directions multiple times before settling on an ending which does a Zhuangzi and the butterfly thing which was sort of predictable and not very interesting. The reveal of the "story" behind Ubik (the object) is just not very interesting. A lot of time is spent in a couple of pulp SF style sections where the interest is only incidental or hammered into the ground without saying anything interesting yes, ok, they're doing a weird going back in time thing, i got it the first couple of times you illustrated it

It's not that I didn't enjoy it, it's just the cool, mind blowing aspects are kind of buried in a mess of stuff, none of which is really explored well. I get why it's a classic, it's a cool read, just missed opportunities. ( )
  tombomp | Oct 31, 2023 |
This is one of PKDs most well reviewed books and I don't really understand why. As is his usual pitfall, the idea of the novel is better than the novel itself. A progressive breakdown of reality, existence inside a dreamlike state or psi powers, an outside voice of god interacting with the hero, it all mirrors the usual themes and the themes of his Exegesis. The reversing of objects through platonic ideals in time is a neat idea.
But is it actually a good read? Not really. ( )
  A.Godhelm | Oct 20, 2023 |
To make a living as a writer Philip K Dick had to hammer out novels at an incredible rate, typically two or even three a year, and I’ve once or twice found myself wishing he’d had a bit more time. That isn’t the case with Ubik though, which is one of his best.
    It’s the near future (1992, still decades away when he wrote this one and which seems to have been a favourite year of his) and there are people around with psychic abilities: telepaths who can read your mind, precogs who can see what you’ll do next. Inevitably, too, there are businesses who employ them to snoop on the rest of us—and, in opposition to these, also anti-psi prudence companies who use anti-telepaths and anti-precogs able to find and neutralise the snoopers (“Defend your privacy. Is a stranger tuning in on you? Are you really alone?”). Glen Runciter is co-owner of one of the latter—or was at least, until during a field operation his team is bombed by its main competitor and Runciter himself killed…apparently. But is he really dead, or is something far stranger going on?
    All this is just the set-up though and doesn’t even hint at where the story takes us next, because it isn’t really about psychic powers at all and is much more yet another exploration of one of the author’s career-long obsessions: the nature of reality and the question of whether the world we think we’re living in is what it seems. The events which follow Runciter’s death are like a dream, but more in the sense of a bad dream: the world is pervaded by a sinister atmosphere and a strange feeling of things out of control, of slipping away or running down like entropy.
    This is probably my favourite novel of Dick’s and has everything in it that’s typical of his writing: it’s funny, intelligent, imaginative, unsettling. Since his death in 1982 they’ve filmed a growing number of his short stories and novels (Total Recall, Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, A Scanner Darkly), but this is the one I’ve always most wanted to see up there on the silver screen. ( )
  justlurking | Oct 5, 2023 |
I'm torn on this one. I couldn't put it down because I couldn't wait to see what happened to Joe Chip. But it made me very, very stressed. Like maybe something was going to happen to me? Sometimes it was very confusing trying to figure out where Dick was taking me. I would suggest it based purely on the fact that it is very suspenseful and unlike any book I have ever read. Thanks Paul. ( )
  CMDoherty | Oct 3, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (28 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Adams, MarcCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bishop, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boca, LaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Daniels, LukeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorémieux, AlainTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Espín, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frick, JohanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heald, AnthonyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Langowski, JürgenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Laux, RenateTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lem, StanislawAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, AlexanderTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moisan, ChristopherCover designersecondary 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
Robinson, Kim StanleyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Michael MarshallIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Ich sih die liehte heide
in gruener varwe stan
dar suln wir alle gehen
die sumerzeit enpahen.

I see the sunstruck forest
In green it stands complete. 
There soon we are all going, 
The summertime to meet.
Dedication
For Tony Boucher
First words
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.
Quotations
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Canonical DDC/MDS
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Fiction. Science Fiction. HTML:

Named one of Time's 100 Best Books, Ubik is a mind-bending, classic novel about the perception of reality from Philip K. Dick, the Hugo Award-winning author of The Man in the High Castle. "From the stuff of space opera, Dick spins a deeply unsettling existential horror story, a nightmare you'll never be sure you've woken up from."????Lev Grossman, Time Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business ???? deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all. "More brilliant than similar experiments conducted by Pynchon or DeLillo."????Roberto Bolao

.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Sick? take a UBIK

Hollister’s team are blown up

Will it all make sense?

(DarrylLundy)

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