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2001: A Space Odysseyby Arthur C. Clarke
Synopses & Reviews
Written when landing on the moon was still a dream, made into one of the most influential films of our century, brilliant, compulsive, prophetic, 2001: A Space Odyssey tackles the enduring theme of man's place in the universe. Including a new Foreword by the author and a fascinating new introduction by Stephen Baxter, this special edition is an essential addition to every SF reader's collection.
On the moon an enigma is uncovered. So great are the implications that, for the first time, men are sent out deep into the solar system. But, before they can reach their destination, things begin to go wrong. Horribly wrong.
The first book in Philip K. Dick's final trilogy (followed by The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer), VALIS encapsulates many of the themes that Dick was obsessed with over the course of his career. A disorienting and bleakly funny novel, VALIS (which stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System) is about a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip Dick); the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime. Taking place in the same universe as Dick's soon-to-be-published Exegesis, VALIS is a dense novel, but one that is absolutely essential to understanding the author's off-kilter worldview. Much like Dick himself, the reader is left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and what the price is for divine inspiration.
Dr. Eric Sweetscent has problems. His planet is enmeshed in an unwinnable war. His wife is lethally addicted to a drug that whips its users helplessly back and forth across time--and is hell-bent on making Eric suffer along with her. And Sweetscent's newest patient is not only the most important man on the embattled planet Earth, but quite possibly the sickest. For Secretary Gino Molinari has turned his mortal illness into an instrument of political policy--and Eric cannot tell if his job is to make the Male better or to keep him poised just this side of death. Now Wait for Last Year bursts through the envelope between the impossible and the inevitable. Even as it ushers us into a future that looks uncannily like the present, it makes the normal seem terrifyingly provisional--and compels anyone who reads it to wonder if he really knows what time is.
A masterwork by Philip K. Dick, this is the final, expanded version of the novella The Unteleported Man, which Dick worked on shortly before his death. In Lies, Inc., fans of the science fiction legend will immediately recognize his hallmark themes of life in a security state, conspiracy, and the blurring of reality and illusion. In this dystopian vision of the future, overpopulation has turned cities into cramped industrial hothouses. For those sick of their depressing reality, one corporation, Trails of Hoffman, Inc., promises an alternative: Take a teleport to Whale's Mouth, a colonized planet billed as the supreme paradise. The only catch is that you can never return. When a neurotic man named Rachmael ben Applebaum discovers that the promotional films of happy crowds cheering their newfound existence on Whale's Mouth are faked, he decides to pilot a spaceship on the eighteen-year journey there to see if anyone wants to come back.
Not too long from now, when exiles from a blistering Earth huddle miserably in Martian colonies, the only things that make life bearable are the drugs. Can-D "translates" those who take it into the bodies of Barbie-like dolls. But now Palmer Eldritch has returned after a mysterious disappearance a decade ago, bringing with him a new drug, Chew-Z, even more powerful than Can-D. Marketed under the slogan, "God promises eternal life; we can deliver it," Chew-Z is as mysterious as Eldritch himself. As the readers learn the true origins of Chew-Z and Eldritch, it becomes clear that in a world fueled by hallucinogens, nothing can be taken at face value. In this wildly disoreinting funhouse of a novel, populated by God-like--or perhaps Satanic--takeover artists and corporate psychics, Philip K. Dick explores mysteries that were once the property of St. Paul and Aquinas. His wit, compassion, and knife-edged irony make The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch moving as well as genuinely visionary.
In the final act of Philip K. Dick's VALIS trilogy, we finally reach the conclusion--of a sort--to his search for the identity and nature of God. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer primarily concerns the eponymous priest and his daughter-in-law, Angel Archer, as they attempt to find their place in the world while dealing with what may or may not be divine possession. After Episcopalian Bishop Timothy Archer finds ancient scrolls bearing the words of Jesus from two centuries before his birth, he journeys to Israel in the hopes of finding more about Christ's true identity--and whether psychedelic mushrooms had anything to do with it. Haunted by the suicides of his son and mistress, Archer cannot prevent himself from falling deeper into the rabbit hole. This quiet, introspective book is one of Dick's most philosophical and literary, delving into the mysteries of religion and the mysteries of faith itself. As one of Dick's final works, it also provides unique insight into the mind of a genius, whose work was still in the process of maturing at the time of his death.
What if you discovered that everything you knew about the world was a lie? That's the question at the heart of Philip K. Dick's futuristic novel about political oppression, the show business of politics, and the sinister potential of the military-industrial complex. This wry, paranoid thriller imagines a future in which the earth has been ravaged, and cities are burnt-out wastelands too dangerous for human life. Americans have been shipped underground, where they toil in crowded industrial anthills and receive a steady diet of inspiring speeches from a president who never seems to age. Nick St. James, like the rest of the masses, believes in the words of his leaders. But that all changes when he travels to the surface--where what he finds is more shocking than anything he could possibly imagine.
In The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick's alternate history classic, the United States lost World War II and was subsequently divided between the Germans in the east and the Japanese in the west. In this world, we meet characters like Frank Frink, a dealer of counterfeit Americana who is himself hiding his Jewish ancestry; Nobusuke Tagomi, the Japanese trade minister in San Francisco, unsure of his standing within the beauracracy and Japan's with Germany; and Juliana Frink, Frank's ex-wife, who may be more important than she realizes. These seemingly disparate characters gradually realize their connections to each other just as they realize that something is not quite right about their world. And it seems as though the answers might lie with Hawthorne Abendsen, a mysterious and reclusive author whose bestselling novel describes a world in which the US won the War... The Man in the High Castle is Dick at his best, giving readers a harrowing vision of the world that almost was.
In The Crack in Space, a repairman discovers that a hole in a faulty Jifi-scuttler leads to a parallel world. Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black President of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen; Tito Cravelli, a shadowy private detective, wants to know why Dr. Lurton Sands is hiding his mistress there; billionaire mutant George Walt wants to make the empty world all his own. But when the other Earth turns out to be inhabited, everything changes.
In The Divine Invasion, the second book in Philip K. Dick's VALIS trilogy, the author continues his search for meaning, and for God. And, once again, his search takes him off of planet Earth. Indeed, Dick shows the Nietzche was wrong: God is not dead, he has merely been exiled to an extraterrestrial planet. It is on this planet that Yah--as this possible God is known--meets Herb Asher and convinces him to help Yah return to Earth, which is itself under the control of the demonic Belial.To do this, Asher must shepherd a woman pregnant with Yah past the tight security of Earth, avoiding missiles, capture, and forced abortion along the way. Featuring virtual reality, parallel worlds, and interstellar travel, The Divine Invasion blends philosophy and adventure in a way few authors can pull off.As with VALIS and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, The Divine Invasion questions just how much anyone really knows--or really can know--about the nature of reality and God. Part science fiction adventure, part religious inquiry, The Divine Invasion stands strong as the most accessible of Dick's famous trilogy.
Bob Arctor is a junkie and a drug-dealer, both using and selling the mind-altering Substance D. Fred is a law enforcement agent, tasked with bringing Bob down. It sounds like a standard case. The only problem is that Bob and Fred are the same person. In order to infiltrate the drug ring he hopes to bring down, Fred has had to use Substance D, but Substance D, or "Slow Death," causes the consciousness to split in two, creating distinct personalities that are entirely unaware of the other's existence. Now, Bob must keep from being caught by Fred, while Fred must keep his suspicious superiors at bay.In this semi-autobiographical novel, Dick looks back on his own drug abuse and his own friends who he lost to drugs. By turns thrilling, mind-bending, laught-out-loud funny, and heart-wrenchingly sad, A Scanner Darkly is an award-winning book made into a cult film and may just be Dick's best novel.
Set in the middle of the twenty-first century, The Simulacra is the story of an America where the whole government is a fraud and the President is an android. Against this backdrop, Dr. Superb, the sole remaining psychotherapist, is struggling to practice in a world full of the maladjusted. Ian Duncan is desperately in love with the first lady, Nicole Thibideaux, who he has never met. Richard Kongrosian refuses to see anyone because he is convinced his body odor is lethal. And the fascistic Berthold Goltz is trying to overthrow the government. With wonderful aplomb, Philip K. Dick brings this story to a crashing conclusion and in classic fashion shows there is always another layer of conspiracy beneath the one we see.
On a ravaged Earth, fate and circumstances bring together a disparate group of characters, including a fascist with dreams of a coup, a composer who plays his instrument with his mind, a First Lady who calls all the shots, and the worlds last practicing therapist. And they all must contend with an underclass that is beginning to ask a few too many questions, aided by a man called Loony Luke and his very persuasive pet alien.
In classic Philip K. Dick fashion, The Simulacra combines time travel, psychotherapy, telekinesis, androids, and Neanderthal-like mutants to create a rousing, mind-bending story where there are conspiracies within conspiracies and nothing is ever what it seems.
“Dick is one of the ten best American writers of the twentieth century, which is saying a lot. Dick was a kind of Kafka steeped in LSD and rage.”—Roberto Bolaño
What is VALIS? This question is at the heart of Philip K. Dicks ground-breaking novel, and the first book in his defining trilogy. When a beam of pink light begins giving a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns, he must decide whether he is crazy, or whether a godlike entity is showing him the true nature of the world.
VALIS is essential reading for any true Philip K. Dick fan, a novel that Roberto Bolaño called “more disturbing than any novel by [Carson] McCullers.” By the end, like Dick himself, you will be left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and just what the price is for divine inspiration.
About the Author
Sir Arthur C. Clarke has over twenty million copies of his books in print, including three million of 2001, and has won every imaginable science fiction award, including the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award for lifetime achievement in 1986. A former radar officer for the RAF, he invented the Communication Satellite, garnering him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1998 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for Services to Literature.
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