seldombites, May 5, 2013 (view all comments by seldombites)
This book is a fascinating insight into the damage recreational drugs can do to our psyche. Set in an alternate history, there is a new drug on the market known as 'Substance D' or 'Death'. Prolonged use of this drug messes with the physical structure of the brain, leading to severe mental illness and, eventually, death. Even withdrawing from the drug doesn't reverse the effects, with many ex-users left as walking, talking vegetables.
Our protagonist is an undercover police officer, who is forced to take the drug in the line of duty. Told from his point of view, the novel documents his slow descent into insanity. Being inside the mind of a user is unpleasant and often confusing. However, this is a book well worth reading.
crowyhead, November 9, 2011 (view all comments by crowyhead)
I've been told for years that this is a classic mind-bender, but I only just now got around to reading it. I loved it. I finished it and turned around and re-read most of the book. It is viciously, viciously funny, paranoid, and painful. I thought it was great.
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.
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