Philip K. Dick, Jonathan Lethem - Philip K. Dick: Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s

I brought this book on my European adventures this summer a bit worried that it wouldn't be enough to read. As it turns out, it was too much and I didn't even finish it until returning home. The book doesn't look that big, but it clocks in at over 1,100 Bible-thin pages.

Compared to the earlier compilation in this series I found this one to be more of a mixed bag. Martian Time Slip, Dr. Bloodmoney, and Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said were really well done--especially the latter two. I had difficulty getting into Now Wait For Last Year and A Scanner Darkly and didn't end up finishing them.

Dick's common themes (the boss character, twins, psychology, colonization of Mars, the nature of time, etc.) seem to pervade nearly every one of his novels. Yet he uses them in very different ways so that the reader never gets the feeling of "here we go again."

Dr. Bloodmoney may have been inspired, in part, by Earth Abides. Unlike some of his other works, which end rather flatly after a rich beginning and central plot, I liked the way he ended Dr. Bloodmoney. This novel, like Earth Abides, may have also served as partial inspiration for Steven King's The Stand.

Flow My Tears includes some vivid dialogue from a first-person standpoint of what it feels like to be tripping out. This whole novel is a trip, but I thought the ending was pretty lame.

This volume of novels includes, I believe, the same ending biography and timeline of Philip Dick as the earlier four novel set.

from the publisher:
Philip K. Dick (1928-82) was a writer of incandescent imagination who made and unmade world-systems with ferocious rapidity and unbridled speculative daring. "The floor joists of the universe," he once wrote, "are visible in my novels." Martian Time-Slip (1964) unfolds on a parched and thinly colonized Red Planet where schizophrenia is a contagion and the unscrupulous seek to profit from a troubled child's time-fracturing visions. Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1965) chronicles the deeply-interwoven stories of a multi-racial community of survivors, including the scientist who may have been responsible for World War III. Famous, among other reasons, for a therapy session involving a talking taxicab, Now Wait for Last Year (1966) explores the effects of JJ-180, a hallucinogen that alters not only perception, but reality. In Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974), a television star seeks to unravel a mystery that has left him stripped of his identity. A Scanner Darkly (1977), the basis for the 2006 film, envisions a drug-addled world in which a narcotics officer's tenuous hold on sanity is strained by his new surveillance assignment: himself. Mixing metaphysics and madness, phantasmagoric visions of a post-nuclear world and invading extraterrestrial authoritarians, and all-too-real evocations of the drugged-out America of the 70s, Dick's work remains exhilarating and unsettling in equal measure.