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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip…

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)

by Philip K. Dick

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3,437612,455 (3.79)97
"Grappling with many of the themes Philip K. Dick is best known for--identity, altered reality, drug use, and dystopias--Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is both a rollicking chase story and a meditation on reality. Jason Taverner--talk show host and man-about-town--wakes one day to find that no one knows who he is. In a society where lack of identification is a crime, Taverner must evade the secret police while trying to unravel the mystery of why no one remembers him"--… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
This was an amazing book, vastly better than some of Dick's more famous works, e.g. Ubik.

Although it has his usual writing style—a little dated, a little stiff and sketchy at times, but simple and to the point—this seems a much more personal book than some of his others. It's not just a story being told or an abstract idea being explored, it really gets to the heart of what seem to be Dick's own fears and experiences.

It constantly seems to flirt with typical formulaic scenarios, only to suddenly turn them on their head, and just be honest and straightforward, and introspective. You can almost feel the author's revulsion with the-same-old-crap.

The plot is entertaining enough, but is basically a sketchy framework for a rumination on life, love, self-awareness, and humanity. The result is very honest, and refreshing.
  snogglethorpe | Dec 3, 2019 |
Following an attack by a jilted lover, renowned TV variety show host and singer, Jason Taverner, awakens in a cheap motel and soon discovers that he is unknown to the world. Neither his current girlfriend nor his lawyer recognizes him when he calls. Further, all records of his identity have been erased from Earth’s databases.

Rather than panic, Taverner uses his genetically enhanced intellect and survival training to arrange for forged IDs in order to pass through the numerous checkpoints of the police state that developed in the U.S. since the Second Civil War. Otherwise, Taverner risks arrest and sentencing to one of the forced labor camps for the rest of his life.

While on the run, Taverner searches for answers only to become entangled with a host of characters ranging from the eccentric and harmless to the desperate and dangerous—until he is falsely accused of murdering the sister/wife of a Los Angeles police general.

It is easy to see why Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said earned Phil K. Dick the John W. Campbell award as well as nominations for a Hugo and Nebula. It’s a fast-paced story with a protagonist both capable and mysterious. Taverner is classified as a “Six”—presumably, a sixth generation genetically enhanced human (reminiscent of the Nexus 6 androids in Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). As usual with Phil K. Dick, the antagonist in the story is not merely a single character, such as the unethical police general or his drug-dealing sibling/spouse. Rather, the enemy is the corrupt state, the totalitarian government, the decaying society.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said ranks as one of my top five favorite SF novels. ( )
  pgiunta | Nov 10, 2019 |
An enjoyable read. More so during the first three quarters or so, when the reader is still in the dark as to what is happening. After it is all explained however, it seems like Dick decided he was done with the story and just wrapped it up as quickly as possible. A bit of a let-down. ( )
  Sammystarbuck | May 13, 2019 |
Jason Taverner has everything and then he wakes up in a hotel room and nobody has ever heard of him. This is a science fiction about identity and mid-life crisis, Taverner seeks out various females to help him regain his former life: a psychotic young forger; and a former lover now with the wisdom of the older woman. Finally he plays mind games with the chief of police and his demented sister. ( )
  questbird | Apr 26, 2019 |
This review is a lot about Philip K. Dick in general, JSYK.

I feel like I didn't get the right introduction to PKD when I was younger. Probably a lot of people don't. You watch Blade Runner and then decide you'd like to read the book, which is totally not like an 80's violent cyberpunk flick at all. The book is very, very different from the film.

Next, I was recommended The Man in the High Castle, which should be recommended to people with caveats. But I suppose most of sci-fi fandom reads from a position of white male privilege, and makes that assumption of everyone else when they say it's a classic masterpiece. Certainly racial relations and ideology have changed a lot in 40 years, and nobody could get away now with writing about race in the way he did. So for instance, in this book, a minor part about the police state they live in is that black people are becoming extinct because they were sterilized by the government. But it's just sort of said as an aside. You simply cannot get away with anything like this today (and that's a good thing!).

So for a long time I did not like Philip K Dick. Because nobody bothered to say that The Man in the High Castle is really great despite its extremely dated racial insensitivity (to put it mildly). In some ways it's hard to excuse him when he has contemporaries like Ursula Le Guin. But then, not everyone has the impeccable spot-on politics of UKLG, which is why she's my favourite author.

Having now read A Scanner Darkly and being about 3/4 of the way through this one, I can see that he definitely brings some fascinating ideas about drugs, reality, identity, and subjectivity to the table. I'm learning to appreciate the good that he does. But I could've learned a lot sooner, if people would simply acknowledge his shortcomings. A lot of people seem to take white male libertarianism as a given in sci-fi. And they definitely should not.


I finished the book last night. I really liked the ending. I liked KR-3, Mary Ann, Buckman, and the epilogue (the gun got a paragraph of its own, which made me laugh). Fascinating ideas in this book. In the middle it kind of meandered, but the ending was so good. Definitely worth a read. I can totally see how William Gibson and David Lynch (especially in Mulholland Drive, my favourite movie) were both inspired by PKD. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Philip K. Dickprimary authorall editionscalculated
Berni, OlivieroCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Curtoni, VittorioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nagula, MichaelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Osterwalder, UteCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ulrich, HansCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Flow my tears, fall from your springs!

Exiled forever, let me mourn;

Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings,

There let me live forlorn.

(Part One)
Down, vain lights, shine you no more!

No nights are black enough for those

That in despair their lost fortunes deplore.

Light doth but shame disclose.

(Part Two)
Never may my woes be relieved,

Since pity is fled;

And tears and sights and groans my weary days

Of all joys have deprived.

(Part Three)
The love in this novel is for Tessa,

and the love in me is for her, too.

She is my little song.
First words
On Tuesday, October 11, 1988, the Jason Taverner Show ran thirty seconds short.
"Listen," he said, haltingly. "I'm going to tell you something and I want you to listen carefully. You belong in a prison for the criminally insane."
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