NAQUOYA'S BOOK REVIEWS | Ubik – Philip K. Dick

in #review6 years ago

This was one of the novels that got me hooked on Philip K Dick's work so many years ago. As I am going through his material again, it came time to take a new and fresh look at Ubik. I had a vague memory of the story, and its trippy nature, but again I have been surprised and reinvigorated by one of PKD's mind bending novels.

Ubik is, without a doubt, completely out there, in terms of story telling, and reader comprehension. It's science fiction, it's a mystery, it's a wild ride through PKD's mind. Just when I thought I had a handle on what was going on, on which way was up and which was down, he managed to throw my certainty, and have me pondering just who are the players here, and who is being played. Perhaps it was me, the reader, that was being played. And all for good measure, as Ubik is a spellbinding tale worth the journey it asked of me.

Set in what was the future year of 1992 (the novel was published in the 60's), Earth is a world where telepaths and precogs operate, and are utilised by companies to steal important information. Joe Chip works for Runciter Associates, a company specialising in employing inertials, people capable of nullifying those psychic eavesdroppers.

Runciter Associates is run by Glen and his wife, Ella, who is in what is called half-life. Having died several years earlier, she is in a frozen state, with her consciousness accessible for brief periods of time. The moratorium that houses Ella is having problems with another half-lifer called Jory, who keeps bleeding his consciousness over into Ella's and interrupting Glen's communications.

Meanwhile Runciter Associates get's a very big job assignment, on the moon, which requires the largest number of inertials they have ever gotten together for a single job. Once they reach the surface a bomb explodes, killing Glen Runciter, and forcing the rest to retreat and head home as quickly as possible.

Joe Chip is now in charge and he starts to notice some odd changes occurring to himself and some of the others in his care. They rush Glen to the moratorium where Ella is housed, but appear to have been to late to have his consciousness take with the half-life world.

A couple of Joe's associates die in a way that defies explanation. They appear to have literally turned to dust, as if having aged enormously in a period of just hours. Joe starts noticing a pattern occurring around him, where the world seems to be reverting to a previous age. Before long Joe and his team appear to be in the year 1939.

Meanwhile he has been receiving messages from Glen Runciter, indicating that Glen is in fact alive, and it is the group that have died. And for Joe to locate a product called Ubik, and use it to contain the decomposition that is occurring.

It is this product, Ubik, that seems to be at the heart of this mystery, a product that can supposedly do so much, an elixir from a previous age, but how does it work? And how does Glen know about it, and even more so, how is he getting messages to Joe, if they are no longer in the same world?

The ending of Ubik leaves as much unresolved as it does resolved and wrapped up. The last line threw me, just as I thought I knew where it was all going. It is a great story, the sense of mystery still left hanging there is the icing on the cake, in my opinion. The mind wants to keep poking at it, taking the many strands presented within the novel and attempt to tie them together. But like reality itself, not everything resolves so neatly. This is typical of the mind games Philip K. Dick is capable of playing. He doesn't disappoint with this one either. I give Ubik 5 out of 5 stars.

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Links to earlier works

- Fiction
My Fiction Writing Collection
Writing Myself Out of Existence
When the Levee Breaks
Reality Fading
Lessons Learned From a Dying Man - includes audio version.

Book Reviews
The Switch - Elmore Leonard
A Glitch In The World - Alex Drozd
All The Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr
Where Epics Fail - Yahia Lababidi
Hellbent - Gregg Hurwitz
1Q84 - Haruki Murakami
Soon - Lois Murphy
The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep - Philip K. Dick
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
Altered Carbon - Richard Morgan
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Crooked God Machine - Autumn Christian

Audio Poetry
The Dance of Destiny and Fate
One Day, Just Not Today


The rare 5 out of 5 and the seminal work that led you down the PKD path?? Definitely moving this up tens of rungs on my list. I can't say I've heard of Ubik before, so I'm quite ashamed of myself. Looking at the synopsis you wrote here, it's definitely quite interesting. I love reading "future stories" of past years since it depicted an alternate present that didn't come to pass. Sci-Fi writers are just so imaginative!

Yes, one of the rare, but necessary 5 out of 5 stars. I do have a bias towards PKD's work, but this one was always going to get the full star treatment. Ubik was one of the first of his that I read, so it has always stayed with me, the bizarreness of it, and now finally I have had the chance to reread and review.

Gosh darnit @naquoya! I can't read books fast enough to keep up with all of your recommendations. I have been looking for a book to dive into PKD, and it sounds like this may be the way to go since its how you found him as well.

In all seriousness, keep on posting these reviews! I get pumped every time I see you post, as I know it will be a book worth checking out. We undoubtedly have a shared appreciation for similar books. Great work!!

Haha, yes hard to keep up at the moment. I'm on a roll! More free time than usual so I got a bit of reading done of late. As for PKD this is definitely a great one to dive in on. I started with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but this was probably one the first few of his I read.

Very glad you like the reviews. If I don't like a book I tend to either not finish it, or skim it. And I wouldn't bother posting a review here, although I may mention it in a blog post. So hopefully I can keeping picking interesting books, mix the styles up a bit, and there will be something of interest for different people in there.

Thanks for taking the time to read and leave a great comment.

I have heard about this author but never decided to read any of his books!

I might end up giving it a try.

You've probably watched at least one of his novels or short stories on the big screen. Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, being a few of the big ones. He was prolific. Still waiting for this one, although it may be in the television series they recently made of some of his material, called Electric Dreams. Still haven't watched all of those.

Philip K. Dick was a very complicated personality. I have a few of his books in my collection.

Yes he was complicated. And extremely interesting. I read a few books about him. He is the author that I have read the most books from. He writes material, and in a style that appeals to me.

I just checked out your review of IQ84 by Murakami and purchased it on your recommendation. I've got to read more of Dick's works as well :)

1Q84 was a fantastic read. Mind blowing. Also a 5 star read, like this one, but for different reasons. Mind you, 1Q84 is a trilogy in one book, so it's a lengthy read. But I couldn't put it down, so that became less relevant as I progressed.

I can't wait :)

After reading your review, I'll probably get this book. I've read many of PKD's short stories and I'm aware of his stature as a sci-fi writer. But somehow, for whatever reason, I've never read any his novels.

He has a vast collection of short stories, but he also so many novels. Ubik is one of his best, but so too is The Man In The High Castle, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. And many, many more.

Great review @naquoya. Thas inspired me to take a trip to the library and check out Ubik. I really like the style of your reviews, absolutely spot on! Summarizing the plot without giving too much away while sharing your insights and impressions, great stuff. :-)

Thanks for the feedback. It's good to know that these reviews work well. There is a fine balance between giving enough details, and completely ruining the plot for potential readers. I try to keep that in mind at all times :)

One of my very favorite books. I may have to write a review myself because there is just SO MUCH to this book despite it's short length.

The best part happens in the bathroom with a limerick.

It's a brilliant book, isn't it? I would love to read your thoughts on Ubik. I first read it over twenty years ago, and it's impact stayed with me. I had to read it again, and in fact have started to reread all of PKD's novels. In amongst all the other novels I am trying to read :)

Absolutely one of my favorites from PKD as well. Thanks for introducing more people to his work. It seems there are still people out there who haven't read him... shakes head in disbelief

With so many books in his back catalogue, it does surprise me the name is unfamiliar to so many people. Yet they have probably watched one of his stories on the big screen. Ubik is definitely one of my favourites of his. just made me hungry for :Philip k. Dick works or novels. I like highly interligent work(s) and from what i just read, he is my Man. Thanks for adding to my libry because am going after his books at once. Thank. The only problem for me is that he has "Dick" in his name...Hahahahaha...just joking. Thanks.

Philip K Dick has many novels as out there is this, although this would rate as one of his finest. The name is one the endearing features of the man, I think many of us have had a chuckle at it. I once read that his fans are called Dickheads, so be careful becoming too enamoured with his work.

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