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Wednesday, January 24th, 2007
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Voices from the Street

by Philip K. Dick

Once More With...Well, Whatever

A review by John Burgman

Stuart Hadley, the anti-hero of Philip K. Dick's previously unpublished novel Voices From the Street, has one hell of a chip on his shoulder. The suburban American landscape of the 1950s doesn't impress him. And while he acknowledges the joie de vivre provided by the rise of television and consumerism, he definitely doesn't subscribe to it.

So it's not surprising that when we first meet Hadley he's stirring among the grit of the Cedar Groves jail unable to recall why he was arrested. From his cell, Hadley can recall the previous night's events only in fragments. As Dick methodically follows his subsequent release from jail, the novel unfolds like a prolonged session of McCarthy-era eavesdropping. We see Hadley's numb devotion to the sales department of Modern TV Sales and Service, and his dabbling into religious fanaticism. He's a man lost in a world he doesn't understand.

Considering some of Dick's most well-known science fiction, such as Ubik and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, domestic realism may seem like a sharp deviation for him. But Voices From the Street gnaws on the same bone as much of Dick's sci-fi catalog. Like his other characters, there is something disturbingly familiar about Stuart Hadley and his mid-life devolution.

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