Friday, June 16, 2000

Title: A Scanner Darkly
Author: Philip K. Dick
Publisher: Voyager

Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly has probably just entered my top 3 "most paranoid books I ever read". Bob has a drug habit, one which escalates along with his dealing. Fred is an undercover cop, assigned with watching Bob. Bob is Fred.

Substance D is an insidious new drug, leading to a slow mental deterioration, as witnessed in the first couple of chapters by the breakdown of one addict - obsessed with aphids only he can see. From this point I can tell that A Scanner Darkly is going to mess with my head. As we meet Bob who is working his way up the ladder to capture the top level dealers while reporting to his boss under the guise of Fred, it I clear I am right.

Paranoid instances mix with creeping conspiracy and the gibbering interludes of an addict's final stages. Someone is out to get Bob but the increasing rift between him and "fred" just make matters worse. Something which is dealt with well by Dick as he plays out his explanation and reveals a more disturbing bigger picture. A Scanner Darkly matches the quality of the other pieces I have read by Dick, with a definite stylistic consistency coming through.

June 2000

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