Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Which One Will It Be?

So I've got about 11 days between the end of my summer semester and the beginning of the fall semester - just enough time to read one PKD novel. Let's pick a book and read it together. Based on the number of comments the idiocy in the last post generated, I know you're out there, looking for ways to stay out of trouble, so lets do a close read of something - nothing as ambitious as my attempt to blog The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (dont' worry I'll finish that as soon as the Chew-Z wears off), we'll just look at the themes, autobigraphical elements, allusions, literary analysis.

I have some preconditions. I don't want to read any of the later books, as I've read them all pretty recently, and they require too much research. Also, I don't want to read 3 Stigmata, Time Out of Joint, or Now Wait for Last Year. I'd like to read something I'm barely familiar with, or may not have even read, so here are some of my suggestions:

The Simulacra - don't think I ever finished it.
Martian Time-Slip - it's been too long
We Can Build You - a favorite worth revisiting
Dr Bloodmoney - East Bay locales, I could provide current photos
Maze of Death - probably Lethem's most interesting choice to include in the latest Library of America edition

Let's be democratic about this: makes suggestions and cast your vote in the comments section.

Update: Just to clarify, you are not obligated to vote for one of my picks above, you can suggest another novel. We'll decide on a book before the end of this weekend.

Just asked the I Ching which novel we should read, the result:
The present is embodied in Hexagram 43 - Kuai (Resolve): It is required that the culprit's guilt be exhibited in the royal court, along with a sincere and earnest appeal for sympathy and support, with consciousness of the peril involved in cutting off the criminal. He should also make announcement in his own city, and show that it will not be well to have recourse at once to arms. In this way there will be advantage in whatever he shall go forward to.

Any idea what book the oracle is suggesting?

Double Plus Good Update: After a casual tallying of the votes so far, Dr Bloodmoney and Maze of Death seem to be our two nominees, but the vote is quite close. I just looked at my bookshelf to discover I don't own a copy of Dr Bloodmoney.... so Maze of Death it is!

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dr Bloodmoney would be my choice. I haven't read it for about 10 years, and I always thought it beautiful in a disturbing way.

Mr. Hand said...

I've been trying to finish both Martian Time Slip and Dr Bloodmoney so either would be fine with me.

Oh Pollo! said...

I'd vote for either The Simulacra or
Maze of Death purely because they are two that I haven't yet read.

Stuart Dootson said...

I'll pick Martian Time-Slip for an entirely nostalgic reason - it was the first PKD I read (at age 12/13). It was quite a deviation from the Heinlein/Clarke/Asimov style SF I'd been reading up until then...

Pantomime Horse said...

Maze of Death would be my first choice from your suggestions. Though your never having finished Simulacra tempts me to suggest that instead.

Martian Time-Slip is perhaps the best novel in that group.

Your suggestions are all novels I've re-read recently. Are you open to suggestions of other novels or do you want to keep the choices limited enough to have a chance that one with get a majority or strong plurality?

I've not read Galactic Pot Healer in quite a while, Clans of the Alphane Moon has been long enough I don't think it would be a problem to re-read it again now, The World That Jones Made is one I'm planning to re-read because it's been so long I don't really remember it (or know if it's a good suggestion). I think Eye In The Sky is unjustly neglected and I don't think I've read much commentary about how it may have reflected not only the general climate of the times but the experience of the FBI unsuccessfully attempting to recruit Phil & Kleo to infiltrate and spy on student's with "bad political attitudes". (If I'm correct in thinking this was written after that.)

There are other novels that I might cast a vote for but I'll wait for a response to my question before actually voting.

j purdie said...

Why don't you consult the I Ching on which book to read?

Michael said...

Dr Bloodmoney is a good one. It's been a while.

The Invalid said...

I think I'll vote for Martian Time-Slip, though I wouldn't be disappointed if the consensus is for Dr B or We Can Build You.

Anonymous said...

Maze of Death. I think it's a very underrated work.

Derek Swannson said...

Dr. Bloodmoney has my vote, too. Any novel that features a telepathic fetus named Bill (who can communicate with the dead!) deserves to be read at least twice.

thefatherthing said...

Maze of death has my money or maybe the simularca

Darius Kazemi said...

Galactic Pot Healer!

Robert Cook said...

It's funny that WE CAN BUILD YOU seems to have acquired a partisan audience...I always perceived it as one of Dick's lesser works, and if I'm not mistaken I think it took him a while to sell it. I don't recall it at all, though I did read it.

Of your list, I'd suggest THE SIMULACRA. It's virtually ignored in Dick's ouevre, but I remember liking it very much. Of course, it's probably been 30 years since I read it. It's time for me to revisit it!

Pete said...

We Can Build You.

ct-scan said...

IMO, "The Cosmic Puppets" is a highly underrated book. I thought it was an enjoyable read, and Peter is a great villain.

Haven't yet read Maze of Death, that's next on my list...once work slows down.

Ragle Gumm said...

I think the I Ching is telling us to read The Penultimate Truth, but I just read that recently.

I will add Galactic Pot Healer to the list as well as The World Jones Made and Clans of the Alphane Moon.

Adrian said...

My first thought reading the oracle was Galactic Pot-Healer, but I just re-read it last week, so top of mind... Penultimate and Clans might also fit.

Mr. Hand said...

Galactic Pot Healer is my "stated" favorite PKD novel. Glad to see others like it enough to bring it up. Does anybody else like to read it as a mystical allegory for practical contemplative exercises and/or ceremonial magic?

Pantomime Horse said...

Were there any moving lines? ;-)

What translation are you using?

giospurs said...

I just read The Simulacra for the first time last week, so I wouldn't mind discussing that.

But if I'm voting for a new one to read, then I'll go for Martian Time-Slip, as I haven't read that yet either!

Anonymous said...

i'd like you to read "The Simulacra" because it's one of my favorite Dick novels. that said: greets from Germany and THX for this very interesting blog!

OneTenderBranson said...

I am up for Martian Time-Slip or Dr. Bloodmoney. This will mean having to leave McCarthy sitting for a bit, but how often does one get such an opportunity.
Thanks!

Republibot 3.0 said...

I vote for "Maze of Death." It's an interesting early step in PKD's development of elaborate theological systems, and it's just got a wry, off-the-cuff sensibility to a lot of it. Most people write it off as 'just a potboiler' and part of the lesser cannon, but I love that book.

Derek Swannson said...

Regarding Mr. Hand's reading of Galactic Pot Healer as a mystical allegory:

It occurred to me, as I was reading GPH, that the Glimmung was a rather amazing fictional meditation on how an egregore works. I'm sure you already know what an egregore is if you're practicing ceremonial magic, but for those who don't, an elaboration on the topic can be found HERE:

"...the magickal birthing and feeding of egregores was the carefully guarded secret at the core of the ancient mystery cults—a process they called ‘The Art of Creating Gods.’"

tuffy777 said...

I'm going with The Unteleported Man.
~~~

Walker Morrow said...

Why don't we go whole-hog, and read through VALIS? The auto-biographical elements should be pretty interesting to go through - especially in light of the Bookslut article that you dismantled in a post below.

Walker Morrow said...

Or, alternatively, there's Scanner Darkly, which I actually haven't read - shocking, I know.

Joshua Lind said...

I vote for Dr. Bloodmoney. Second choice is Martian Time-Slip, but I wrote a chapter of my master's thesis on that and would prefer to dig into something I've examined less deeply.

This'll be fun, whatever is selected. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the I Ching suggests Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

My favorites would be Dr. Bloodmoney and Martian Time-Slip, but I really like The Simulacra too. Are the so-called "mainstream" works out of the question?
Doug Spaulding

criswell73 said...

If you guys read Dr Bloodmoney I would gladly join in.

Gregory said...

The Crack in Space, because of its black president...might be fun to look for any echoes of future past...? I'm not sure what that last sentence means, but that's my vote what the hell.
-Greg Lee, Radio Free PKD