Tuesday, February 10, 2009

#6: Now Wait for Last Year by Philip K. Dick

A doctor sets his marital problems aside to help the Earth get out of an unwinnable galactic war in Philip K. Dick's mind-boggling Now Wait for Last Year.

I find The Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to be milestone science fiction novels, not just of Dick's work but of the genre, but the more I read of Dick the more I realize how deep his body of work goes. I finished 2008 reading Martian Time-Slip and found it to be one of Dick's finer works as well, and A Scanner Darkly remains a favorite.

Although Now Wait for Last Year treads a lot of Dick's familiar trails--everyday people caught up in huge events, time travel, drug abuse, paranoid government conspiracies, p-whipping shrews, odd robots and aliens--I found the writing to be denser and more downbeat than some of his funnier, freer works; and thus somehow more rewarding.

I read this in a very fine edition from the Library of America in their second volume of Dick's collected works. With biographical notes and comments from Jonathan Lethem (whom I am realizing, the more I read of Lethem, is a stylistic follower of Dick's), the Library of America volumes are worth picking up. I have been giving them as gifts in that way that you kind of want them for yourself. This one I checked out from the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond, Indiana.

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