Monday, 16 May 2011

Ubik by Philip K. Dick


Ubik is one of those rare astonishing science fiction novels filled to the brim with such perplexing and fascinating ideas but is actually supported by the author's literary flair and authoritative story telling abilities. How the hell does this guy continually come up with such mind-altering and visionary stories? My guess is drugs, lots and lots of drugs. Or maybe he's a genius. Nonetheless, anyone who happens to be ambivalent towards the genre should certainly check out Ubik which is bound to eradicate any preconceived notions that science fiction is nothing more than poorly written space operas lacking any substance. I would also suggest that this would be a far more enjoyable first read without having any prior notions of the premise; there are far too many surprising twists and turns. Besides, this is Philip K. Dick we are talking about here: a literary madman capable of writing some of the most bizarre, fascinating, entertaining and thought-provoking stories.

The novel can be approached simply as a wickedly entertaining and darkly humorous pre-cyberpunk extravaganza but of course, there is much more going on below the surface: a religious parable, a philosophical an epistemological exploration of human nature and consciousness along with the elusive nature of reality. After finishing this novel, I kept thinking to myself: Why do we read and what is the point of reading fiction? It seems like a frivolous and transitory exercise most of the time; you pick up a book and maybe it lingers with you for a while after you finish it but then it is usually forgotten. You invest precious time and energy into a literary work to what purpose? Perhaps the acquisition of knowledge, to gain insight, to reflect on one's humanity or maybe just to be entertained. But then again, what does it mean to be entertained by fiction? I don't have the answers but personally, reading great fiction such as Ubik is capable of leaving and indelible impression by offering a unique perspective of life that makes me question the very essence of my being; a type of cathartic experience that confirms and/or radically undermines the very fabric of my existence. Literature rarely has that effect on me but this is one powerful novel that rocked my world. 


Read from April 27 to 28, 2011

2 comments:

  1. A really interesting review! I'm itching to get my hand on a copy of this now, hopefully i'll be able to get into it soon.

    "Reading great fiction such as Ubik is capable of leaving an indelible impression by offering a unique perspective of life that makes me question the very essence of my being; a type of cathartic experience that confirms and/or radically undermines the very fabric of my existence." <---possibly the best book enticement I've ever read!

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  2. Doh! I rally need to check my email on a more regular basis because I only found your comment today! My apologizes Kayleigh. Thanks for the kind words. My enthusiasm for this novel knows no bounds.

    I would love to get your take on this novel considering it is one of PKD's best and you thoroughly enjoyed "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep." You're in for a treat, I assure you. :D

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