Five Novels of the 1960s & 70s by Philip K. Dick
By Bill Kohlhaase
Science fiction author Philip K. Dick wasn’t as interested in the future of technology as he was in how the human mind would respond to it. Existential problems and questions of sanity are his themes. Five Novels, like its predecessor Four Novels of the 1960s, contains a story made famous by Hollywood, A Scanner Darkly (in the first volume it was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which became the movie Blade Runner). Then there’s a stunning work of contemporary relevance and surreal dread Now Wait for Last Year and, to further screw your neurons, a psychotically personal story, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Dr. Bloodmoney or How We Got Along after the Bomb is an account of life after a nuclear test disaster and the resulting exchange of bombs. Martian Time Slip is a tale of boredom and corporate greed on the Red Planet. The question of whether or not Dick was merely an exceptional pulp writer persists. As in the previous volume, some of these novels are just decent, others works of genius. But the scenarios and mental states he explores, even in the lesser stories, tend to linger long after this hefty volume’s been closed.
The Library of America, hardback 1,128 pages, $40