Well, this was an interesting way to return to SF... I love PKD, and this was one of the few of his book I hadn't read. There's an interesting history here, as the book was written in an almost patchwork fashion over several decades, with various bits added in and taken out as editors for magazines and pulp publishers made Dick stick to strict word limits.
The result is... intriguing for fans and completists. And almost utterly incomprehensible. The setup is brilliant as Rachmael ben Applebaum decides to journey to one of humanity's outermost colonies, which he believes is not as happy as the videos back home on Earth would have the public believe. Most people travel by energy transfer, but our hero opts to take a ship on an 18 year journey.
Great setup, but then in the middle of the book, as Applebaum arrives, he gets shot by an LSD tipped dart, and suddenly Dick's expanded material leads into a drug-fuelled frenzy hallucinatory "paraworlds" and a great deal of action that makes little sense. The novel definitely feels as stitched together as its history implies, with threads dropped in randomly to little effect (a great setup in the first few pages Applebaum accidentally inherit the memories of a rat; a thread that disappears very quickly indeed and seems to have little to no pay-off).
There are moments of brilliance (a monster that eats its own eyes, the dreams of a rat in Applebaum's mind) but the drug fuelled middle utterly destroys any semblance of coherent story. Dick's prose is also at its most wooden for much of the book, leading to a title that's intriguing for fans, but ultimately unsatisfying. And if you're not already a fan of Dick, well, this isn't a book to convert you really. If, like me, you're intrigued by the man's writing, its worth a look. But otherwise, probably best to stay away. Or find the original version published as The Unteleported Man, which reportedly makes a lot more sense without the extended LSD and paraworld nonsense.
Although I spend much of my time reading for edits rather than pleasure, I still try and fit in reading for fun. This occasional blog will record brief thoughts on some of the books I'm reading on my "off time"
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