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Ubik (1969)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6,4121241,131 (4)155
Glen Runciter is dead. Or is he? Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out. If it hasn't already.… (more)
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» See also 155 mentions

English (106)  French (8)  Spanish (4)  Italian (3)  Dutch (1)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  All languages (124)
Showing 1-5 of 106 (next | show all)
"I am called Ubik, but that is not my name. I am. I shall always be."

Wow. How I overlooked this book for so long, I don't understand. It is an amazing work, a dark and stormy night of the soul, no doubt, and I have two threads of thought about it as I stare at the closed book I just finished.

The first starts with simple comparison; if Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse-Five" is an absurd, darkly-humorous scramble of time and reality, "Ubik" is a grim rumination on reality as a construct beyond our control. As the pace and intensity mount over second half of the novel, the lurking fear of alienation and dislocation become a palpable presence that can follow you around the neighborhood. Living in the current dystopia of 2020, it is easy to wonder what lurks behind the appearances of real life. The USA of 1969 in which Dick wrote "Ubik" must have seemed as hallucinogenic and malignant to him, to imagine such conscious manipulation occurring.

The second is a set of "Aha!" moments, in which Tad Williams' "Otherland" comes into a clearer focus. TW's "Sprootie" and "The Other/Lord Set" are pretty much riffs on Ubik and, [no spoilers] here, if played out differently. It is certainly easier to sleep at night having read of Otherland's uber-VR than Dick's world of RL and "half-life"; in TW's net, the characters but for Jonas know they're in a simworld, but characters in "Ubik" don't know where they stand. Nightmare times, indeed.

This is a top-shelfer, to go on a read-again rotation. But not too often. ( )
  MLShaw | Jun 17, 2021 |
I've not read a lot of Dick's books, so getting used to the writing style was difficult. At times it can be a bit loose and difficult to keep track of, particularly with several of the characters all once in a pretty alien space. It was tough to slog through the initial portion of the book, and consequently I spent a pretty good bit of time trying to make more sense of what was going on more than really being all that engaged with the characters.

About halfway to three-quarters of the way through the book, things really begin to tighten up as major plotpoints evolve and the real core of the story and the situation reveal themselves. What began as a pretty campy sci-fi text turned into a pretty crazy existential mess about death and life in a fictional world. ( )
  theothergarypowell | May 20, 2021 |
I am not entirely sure how I feel about this book. This might well be because I don't think I've understood it completely quite yet - which, judging by the other reviews, puts me into good company.

Many aspects of the book are tremendous fun while others are in my opinion overdone: The future that Dick describes is not implausible at all (While we may not pay for our doors to open, there are many things that we allegedly don't own any more but rent or license - e-books are just one example.) and I found its portrayal hilarious. The clothes descriptions have been mentioned elsewhere and I found them funny at first but at some point they got on my nerves. The way the characters interact often struck me as strange - walking away from conversations, not reacting to obvious rudeness etc. - maybe this can be attributed to their situation, they are nearly-dead psychics, well inertials, in cold-pac after all, but it sometimes took me out of full immersion in the book's world.

Especially the first half of the book is very witty and I read it speedily while, for me, the latter half or third dragged on a bit. Some of the concepts and explanations introduced in that part just seemed too far-fetched or disconnected to make real sense - but as I said, maybe I just didn't get it.

Anyway, although three stars doesn't look like much, I feel that I will read this book again at some point. I have a hunch that much more will become clear with a second reading and I might just grow to appreciate it much more. For the record, I read the [b:The Philip K. Dick Reader|14183|The Philip K. Dick Reader|Philip K. Dick|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388187295s/14183.jpg|1261788] and loved most of the stories in it, especially the mind-bending ones, so I guess it's not a lost cause. ( )
  SpookyFM | Jan 18, 2021 |
One of the best books written by one of my favorite sci-fi authors. Essential components: a future "internet of things" world; cryonics; thoughts on the nature of time, space, and reality. Space travel (interplanetary) is incidental to everything else in the book. The Audible edition was very well narrated. ( )
  octal | Jan 1, 2021 |
Dick's books are really gumshoe mysteries, set in a weird future. I'm not a huge mystery fan (they make me feel dumb for not being able to solve them), but I am a sci-fi fan, and Dick's visions of the future are pretty...Unik. ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 106 (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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Disambiguation notice
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Blurbers
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Glen Runciter is dead. Or is he? Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out. If it hasn't already.

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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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