A Scanner Darkly

A Scanner Darkly

by Philip K. Dick


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“Dick is Thoreau plus the death of the American dream.”—Roberto Bolaño

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. Substance D doesn’t just alter the mind, it splits it in two, and neither side knows what the other is doing or that it even exists. Now, both sides are growing increasingly paranoid as Bob tries to evade Fred while Fred tries to evade his suspicious bosses.

In this award-winning novel, friends can become enemies, good trips can turn terrifying, and cops and criminals are two sides of the same coin. Dick is at turns caustically funny and somberly contemplative, fashioning a novel that is as unnerving as it is enthralling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547572178
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 78,903
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, PHILIP K. DICK (1928–1982) published 36 science-fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned to deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film, notably, Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into twenty-five languages.

Read an Excerpt

Once a guy stood all day shaking bugs from his hair. The doctor told him there were no bugs in his hair. After he had taken a shower for eight hours, standing under hot water hour after hour suffering the pain of the bugs, he got out and dried himself, and he still had bugs in his hair; in fact, he had bugs all over him. A month later he had bugs in his lungs.

Having nothing else to do or think about, he began to work out theoretically the life cycle of the bugs, and, with the aid of the Britannica, try to determine specifically which bugs they were. They now filled his house. He read about many different kinds and finally noticed bugs outdoors, so he concluded they were aphids. After that decision came to his mind it never changed, no matter what other people told him ... like "Aphids don't bite people."

They said that to him because the endless biting of the bugs kept him in torment. At the 7-11 grocery store, part of a chain spread out over most of California, he bought spray cans of Raid and Black Flag and Yard Guard. First he sprayed the house, then himself. The Yard Guard seemed to work the best.

As to the theoretical side, he perceived three stages in the cycle of the bugs. First, they were carried to him to contaminate him by what he called Carrier-people, which were people who didn't understand their role in distributing the bugs. During that stage the bugs had no jaws or mandibles (he learned that word during his weeks of scholarly research, an unusually bookish occupation for a guy who worked at the Handy Brake and Tire place relining people's brake drums). The Carrier-people therefore felt nothing. He used to sit in the far corner of his living room watching different Carrier-people enter--most of them people he'd known for a while, but some new to him--covered with the aphids in this particular nonbiting stage. He'd sort of smile to himself, because he knew that the person was being used by the bugs and wasn't hip to it.

"What are you grinning about, Jerry?" they'd say.

He'd just smile.

In the next stage the bugs grew wings or something, but they really weren't precisely wings; anyhow, they were appendages of a functional sort permitting them to swarm, which was how they migrated and spread--especially to him. At that point the air was full of them; it made his living room, his whole house, cloudy. During this stage he tried not to inhale them.

Most of all he felt sorry for his dog, because he could see the bugs landing on and settling all over him, and probably getting into the dog's lungs, as they were in his own. Probably--at least so his empathic ability told him--the dog was suffering as much as he was. Should he give the dog away for the dog's own comfort? No, he decided: the dog was now, inadvertently, infected, and would carry the bugs with him everywhere.

Sometimes he stood in the shower with the dog, trying to wash the dog clean too. He had no more success with him than he did with himself. It hurt to feel the dog suffer; he never stopped trying to help him. In some respect this was the worst part, the suffering of the animal, who could not complain.

"What the fuck are you doing there all day in the shower with the goddamn dog?" his buddy Charles Freck asked one time, coming in during this.

Jerry said, "I got to get the aphids off him." He brought Max, the dog, out of the shower and began drying him. Charles Freck watched, mystified, as Jerry rubbed baby oil and talc into the dog's fur. All over the house, cans of insect spray, bottles of talc, and baby oil and skin conditioners were piled and tossed, most of them empty; he used many cans a day now.

"I don't see any aphids," Charles said. "What's an aphid?"

"It eventually kills you," Jerry said. "That's what an aphid is. They're in my hair and my skin and my lungs, and the goddamn pain is unbearable--I'm going to have to go to the hospital."

"How come I can't see them?"

Jerry put down the dog, which was wrapped in a towel, and knelt over the shag rug. "I'll show you one," he said. The rug was covered with aphids; they hopped up everywhere, up and down, some higher than others. He searched for an especially large one, because of the difficulty people had seeing them. "Bring me a bottle or jar," he said, "from under the sink. We'll cap it or put a lid on it and then I can take it with me when I go to the doctor and he can analyze it."

Charles Freck brought him an empty mayonnaise jar. Jerry went on searching, and at last came across an aphid leaping up at least four feet in the air. The aphid was over an inch long. He caught it, carried it to the jar, carefully dropped it in, and screwed on the lid. Then he held it up triumphantly. "See?" he said.

"Yeahhhhh," Charles Freck said, his eyes wide as he scrutinized the contents of the jar. "What a big one! Wow!"

"Help me find more for the doctor to see," Jerry said, again squatting down on the rug, the jar beside him.

"Sure," Charles Freck said, and did so.

Within half an hour they had three jars full of the bugs. Charles, although new at it, found some of the largest.

It was midday, in June of 1994. In California, in a tract area of cheap but durable plastic houses, long ago vacated by the straights. Jerry had at an earlier date sprayed metal paint over all the windows, though, to keep out the light; the illumination for the room came from a pole lamp into which he had screwed nothing but spot lamps, which shone day and night, so as to abolish time for him and his friends. He liked that; he liked to get rid of time. By doing that he could concentrate on important things without interruption. Like this: two men kneeling down on the shag rug, finding bug after bug and putting them into jar after jar.

"What do we get for these," Charles Freck said, later on in the day. "I mean, does the doctor pay a bounty or something? A prize? Any bread?"

"I get to help perfect a cure for them this way," Jerry said. The pain, constant as it was, had become unbearable; he had never gotten used to it, and he knew he never would. The urge, the longing, to take another shower was overwhelming him. "Hey, man," he gasped, straightening up, "you go on putting them in the jars while I take a leak and like that." He started toward the bathroom.

"Okay," Charles said, his long legs wobbling as he swung toward a jar, both hands cupped. An ex-veteran, he still had good muscular control, though; he made it to the jar. But then he said suddenly, "Jerry, hey--those bugs sort of scare me. I don't like it here by myself." He stood up.

"Chickenshit bastard," Jerry said, panting with pain as he halted momentarily at the bathroom.

"Couldn't you--"

"I got to take a leak!" He slammed the door and spun the knobs of the shower. Water poured down.

"I'm afraid out here." Charles Freck's voice came dimly, even though he was evidently yelling loud.

"Then go fuck yourself!" Jerry yelled back, and stepped into the shower. What fucking good are friends? he asked himself bitterly. No good, no good! No fucking good!

"Do these fuckers sting?" Charles yelled, right at the door.

"Yeah, they sting," Jerry said as he rubbed shampoo into his hair.

"That's what I thought." A pause. "Can I wash my hands and get them off and wait for you?"

Chickenshit, Jerry thought with bitter fury. He said nothing; he merely kept on washing. The bastard wasn't worth answering ... He paid no attention to Charles Freck, only to himself. To his own vital, demanding, terrible, urgent needs. Everything else would have to wait. There was no time, no time; these things could not be postponed. Everything else was secondary. Except the dog; he wondered about Max, the dog.

Charles Freck phoned up somebody who he hoped was holding, "Can you lay about ten deaths on me?"

"Christ, I'm entirely out--I'm looking to score myself. Let me know when you find some, I could use some."

"What's wrong with the supply?"

"Some busts, I guess."

Charles Freck hung up and then ran a fantasy number in his head as he slumped dismally back from the pay phone booth--you never used your home phone for a buy call--to his parked Chevy. In his fantasy number he was driving past the Thrifty Drugstore and they had a huge window display; bottles of slow death, cans of slow death, jars and bathtubs and vats and bowls of slow death, millions of caps and tabs and hits of slow death, slow death mixed with speed and junk and barbiturates and psychedelics, everything--and a giant sign: YOUR CREDIT IS GOOD HERE. Not to mention: LOW LOW PRICES, LOWEST IN TOWN.

But in actuality the Thrifty usually had a display of nothing: combs, bottles of mineral oil, spray cans of deodorant, always crap like that. But I bet the pharmacy in the back has slow death under lock and key in an unstepped-on, pure, unadulterated, uncut form, he thought as he drove from the parking lot onto Harbor Boulevard, into the afternoon traffic. About a fifty-pound bag.

He wondered when and how they unloaded the fifty-pound bag of Substance D at the Thrifty Pharmacy every morning, from wherever it came from--God knew, maybe from Switzerland or maybe from another planet where some wise race lived. They'd deliver probably real early, and with armed guards--the Man standing there with Laser rifles looking mean, the way the Man always did. Anybody rip off my slow death, he thought through the Man's head, I'll snuff them.

Probably Substance D is an ingredient in every legal medication that's worth anything, he thought. A little pinch here and there according to the secret exclusive formula at the issuing house in Germany or Switzerland that invented it. But in actuality he knew better; the authorities snuffed or sent up everybody selling or transporting or using, so in that case the Thrifty Drugstore--all the millions of Thrifty Drugstores--would get shot or bombed out of business or anyhow fined. More likely just fined. The Thrifty had pull. Anyhow, how do you shoot a chain of big drugstores? Or put them away?

They just got ordinary stuff, he thought as he cruised along. He felt lousy because he had only three hundred tabs of slow death left in his stash. Buried in his back yard under his camellia, the hybrid one with the cool big blossoms that didn't burn brown in the spring. I only got a week's supply, he thought. What then when I'm out? Shit.

Suppose everybody in California and parts of Oregon runs out the same day, he thought. Wow.

This was the all-time-winning horror-fantasy that he ran in his head, that every doper ran. The whole western part of the United States simultaneously running out and everybody crashing on the same day, probably about 6 A.M. Sunday morning, while the straights were getting dressed up to go fucking pray.

Scene: The First Episcopal Church of Pasadena, at 8:30 A.M. on Crash Sunday.

"Holy parishioners, let us call on God now at this time to request His intervention in the agonies of those who are thrashing about on their beds withdrawing."

"Yeah, yeah." The congregation agreeing with the priest.

"But before He intervenes with a fresh supply of--"

A black-and-white evidently had noticed something in Charles Freck's driving he hadn't noticed; it had taken off from its parking spot and was moving along behind him in traffic, so far without lights or siren, but ...

Maybe I'm weaving or something, he thought. Fucking goddamn fuzzmobile saw me fucking up. I wonder what.

COP: "All right, what's your name?"

"My name?" (CAN'T THINK OF NAME.)

"You don't know your own name?" Cop signals to other cop in prowl car. "This guy is really spaced."

"Don't shoot me here." Charles Freck in his horror-fantasy number induced by the sight of the black-and-white pacing him. "At least take me to the station house and shoot me there, out of sight."

To survive in this fascist police state, he thought, you gotta always be able to come up with a name, your name. At all times. That's the first sign they look for that you're wired, not being able to figure out who the hell you are.

What I'll do, he decided, is I'll pull off soon as I see a parking slot, pull off voluntarily before he flashes his light, or does anything, and then when he glides up beside me I'll say I got a loose wheel or something mechanical.

They always think that's great, he thought. When you give up like that and can't go on. Like throwing yourself on the ground the way an animal does, exposing your soft unprotected defenseless underbelly. I'll do that, he thought.

He did so, peeling off to the right and bumping the front wheels of his car against the curb. The cop car went on by.

Pulled off for nothing, he thought. Now it'll be hard to back out again, traffic's so heavy. He shut off his engine. Maybe I'll just sit here parked for a while, he decided, and alpha meditate or go into various different altered states of consciousness. Possibly by watching the chicks going along on foot. I wonder if they manufacture a bioscope for horny. Rather than alpha. Horny waves, first very short, then longer, larger, larger, finally right off the scale.

This is getting me nowhere, he realized. I should be out trying to locate someone holding. I've got to get my supply or pretty soon I'll be freaking, and then I won't be able to do anything. Even sit at the curb like I am. I not only won't know who I am, I won't even know where I am, or what's happening.

What is happening? he asked himself. What day is this? If I knew what day I'd know everything else; it'd seep back bit by bit.

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A Scanner Darkly 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
Norbertino More than 1 year ago
Every day, we enter a world full of decisions. Some can be as simple as what to have for lunch, others can be as serious as purchasing a car or home. For undercover agent "Fred," aka Bob Arctor, the decisions he makes every day can determine life or death. The story takes place in Orange County, California in 1994, shortly after the new and highly addictive drug "Substance D" hits the streets. Substance D, or "Death" as it's known among users, is so addictive that, as said in the novel, "You're either on it...Or you haven't tried it." Arctor, along with other agents, work to infiltrate the lives of Substance D users, becoming friends with them and learning to be like them. Ultimately, the agents wish to find the dealers of Substance D, and find who is supplying them. Throughout the novel, Arctor deals with the conflicts between being a police officer and a user, always on edge of being exposed, but as Arctor abuses Substance D to further his undercover work, the walls of reality begin to crumble for him. He begins to forget who he is, and the boundaries between an officer and addict fade away, causing Arctor to question which he really is. For those searching for a novel about truth, fear, love, and a harsh dose of reality, A Scanner Darkly will be a novel you won't be able to set down.
theactuallisakim More than 1 year ago
I love all the stuff William Burroughs wrote about drugs, but this book takes the cake for showing you what it's like to be hooked on drugs that are gradually causing you to go insane. I won't reveal too much about myself, but let's just say, been there, done that... PKD obviously knew what he was writing about. Notice in the back, where he lists the damage done to his friends by drugs, there is a "Phil" who has suffered brain damage. Yup. Honesty is always the best medicine, especially when it comes to self-medication. Even if you have no interest in drugs, or, especially, if you still wave the 'just say no' flag and think there's nothing wrong with putting drug addicts into the same places as rapists, and murderers, this is definitely your book!
Mischief_Mayhem_Soap More than 1 year ago
Phil has been an inspiration. Salad in a bag, his idea. Well maybe not salad in a bag but the man revolutionized the way we view our own addictions and the multiple lives we lead. He teaches us how on persons trust can be another persons weapon. Arcter, donna, even Freck are characters that stick with you like a trusty blade waiting to be unsheathed and dug deep into the folds of our delicate psyche. Thank you Mister Dick for your elaborate interpretation of our future as users. T
Guest More than 1 year ago
The universe of A Scanner Darkly is teeming with brilliant imagery, hilarious dialogue, and unforgettable characters that capture drug culture to a tee. Although Philip K. Dick¿s story was written in memory of friends who have fallen victim to drug addiction, and is meant to serve as a warning to others, the novel is about much more than the negative sides of drug use. As we follow the life of Bob Arctor, an undercover narcotics agent who must assimilate into drug culture in order to find the source of the powerfully addictive Substance D, we are taken on a ride through one man¿s inner struggle, attempting to cope with his multiple identities, while simultaneously dealing with the brain-damage caused by his addiction to the drug. Dicks¿ inspired look at a future filled with government spying and out of control drug use is definitely one of the most creative and entertaining science fiction novels written to date.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fred is an undercover agent assigned to observe Bob Arctor, a drug user and possible dealer. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Fred is actually Arctor, so he ends up observing himself. Substance D, the narcotic Arctor ingests, causes the brain to literally split into two, so Fred and Bob each become their own separate personality and Fred becomes less and less aware that he is actually observing himself. Confused yet? It gets even more twisted as author PKD delves deeper into his usual theme of the nature of existence. A Scanner Darkly is more of an anti-drug novel dressed up in the trappings of the sci-fi genre. PKD dedicates the book to himself and many of his friends who either died or suffered permanent injury due to drug abuse. A Scanner Darkly could be Dick's finest effort, but it certainly earns him a place among the most important authors of the 20th century, science-fiction or no.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some people would prefer Ubik, some might go for Flow My Tears..., and I have a friend whose ultimate Dick novel is The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. But this is my favourite PKD book. It's hardly science fiction at all, and not just because it's set in the early nineties, or thenabouts; it's an elegy for Sixties/early Seventies drug culture, focusing on the damage and the loss. The book is ridiculously funny, at times, such as the hapless attempt of one character to commit suicide by pill ingestion; he unwittingly swallows dozens of hallucinogens instead, and is forced to listen as a bug-eyed monster recites his sins to him for all eternity. The eerie Dickian paranoia is in full flow here, as Fred the narc carries out surveillance on himself (and as his own drug use gradually erases his identity to the point where he doesn't even realise that he's doing it). Sad, bitter, angry, outstanding.
seldombites More than 1 year ago
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.
sfjazzdude More than 1 year ago
I thorougly enjoyed this PKD classic. A provocative set up with a drug agent trying to bring down a potentially high level dealer. The twist - both characters are addicted to the same powerful drug, which has the disconcerting side effect of causing the two sides of your brain to operate independent of each other. Which causes the vcry unusual situation of the drug agent trying to bring himself down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book about a month ago and I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. I was a little confused in a couple areas just because of how bizzare the story line is. This dude who goes by the name of Fred is a narc. His "real" name is Bob Arctor. But after all the heavy Substance Death he's been taking, he develops a split brain. He never realizes the great conspiracy behind this scourge of a drug. Slaves!
bardsfingertips on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much, though I found it to be rather depressing. And, when you read in the manner of how this book is a large piece of PKD's once personal life, it twists the already-stuck knife just a bit more. This is more of a drug culture novel than it is a sci-fi one. The main theme here is identity and how once can lose that to an addiction.I certainly enjoyed it; bus as to recommending it, I am uncertain as to its general reception. I think it takes a person who can see past "good & evil" to see what the meat of this novel is truly composed of.
booksbooks11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I listened to this as an audio book on my iPod, not the ideal conditions to experience a novel, but for this book it was great. This is another in Dick's usual style, futuristic but also current with a compelling story line. The author's note is particularly powerful. It's interesting how depictions of the future show how hard it is to predict the course of technology, it is set in the future when written but the use of cassette players and tapes puts it firmly in the past. Special suits that can alter other people's perception of your physical form seem an eon away still, along with other 3d recording and playback technology.The ending was a little flat for me, but that is part of the whole message of the book of the unending futility of the drug taking culture.
sprunger19 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome. After reading this I want to read more Philip K. Dick. It was an easy but by no means shallow read. The movie is a very good adaption of the book so you could do one or the other... but I recommend both.
KLmesoftly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a disturbing, intense book! The first thing I did after finishing this novel was hand it off to a friend so I'd have someone to discuss it with. It's definitely not a light read, so don't pick it up if you're not looking for something thought-provoking. It's science-fiction, yes, but also has a lot of interesting things to say about drug abuse and addiction and, whether you agree with Dick's views or not, the sociology of crime.
Jen448 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was one of those novels that drew me in immediately. I was vaguely disturbed, yet couldn't help reading the description of Jerry Fabin, the man who thought he was infested with aphids. As it turns out, Jerry's brain is pretty much reduced to mush by substance D, a dangerous drug that law enforcement is unable to determine the source of. We then meet Bob Arctor, the undercover narcotics agent who becomes a little too caught up in the drug culture he is supposed to be infiltrating. The tone of this book is hopeless and depressing, yet full of dark humor (i.e the 10 speed bicycle incident). I especially enjoyed reading the banter between Bob and his roomates. As the novel progresses, it gets more and more surreal as Bob begins to lose his grip on reality. I did really enjoy the ending of the book. It's one of those things where you wonder if the end justifies the means. The reason I only gave this book four stars is that I didn't really care for how surreal and the novel became towards the end. This is just a personal preference though. All in all I thought the novel was well written and did a good job of portraying drug culture and Arctor's downward spiral. By the time I reached the end of the book, I felt a little less sane than I had before I started.
teagueamania on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found it, newly published, at the Taft Branch of the Orange Public Library (itself a futuristic artifact), and took it home because it was set in Orange County, about five miles and a quarter century from where I lived. All the paranoia and panic of the druggie lifestyle, with a dose of dystopia, suggesting the most horrible concept: the future will be no different.
lookitisheef on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is my first venture in to PKD. Pretty impressive - a very creative reality mixed with the 'classic' tragedy of drug addicts.I would recommend against the audio book version...Paul Giamatti gives a good performance, but doesn't provide a lot of vocal differences between characters...I listened to this as an audiobook for my commute to-and-from work, and I will admit that my driving suffered from time to time while I tried to backtrack and figure out what was going on in the story and which characters were in the scenes.
thesmellofbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well done. Not fun but fascinating.
RobertDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An unsettling book, this, for despite the science-fictional trappings (Robert Arctor's 'scramble suit' and the cephscope) we are in the California of the late 20th century. So much of this book reads like PKD's own experience, which it almost certainly was. This is his requiem to the friends he lost on the way. Meet on the ledge.
KTPrymus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have a confession to make. This is the first Phillip K. Dick novel I¿ve been capable of finishing. I¿ve tried two others: the extremely daunting When Androids Dream of Electric Sleep, a novel so abstract an erudite that even Ridley Scott couldn¿t finish it prior to making Blade Runner, and another that was so uninteresting to me I can¿t even recall its name. I had nearly given up on him, not being fan of science fiction novels anyway, but I heard great things about Flow, My Tears, the Policeman Said. Unfortunately it was checked out of my library but, having recently seen and loved Richard Linklater¿s adaptation of A Scanner Darkly, I opted to give this one a try. This proved to be a very fortunate event.The title of the work is a reference to 1 Corinthians 13:12, a passage which has found much use in science fiction (i.e. Ghost in the Shell). In this instance the mirror through which we see darkly is transformed to a scanner ¿ a three-dimensional surveillance system used, in this case, to monitor the home of several drug users. The interesting twist is that the intended primary target, Bob Arctor, is actually an undercover narcotics officer, and the person assigned to monitor the scanner¿s recordings is Bob Arctor himself. Or really it is Fred, who is Bob Arctor but frequently forgets that little bit of information. In this future the police force is terribly corrupt and the only way to keep secret the identity of undercover agents is to have them wear scramble suits at all times while on duty ¿ elaborate high tech disguises that hide their faces and voices from even their colleagues. Since no one in the department knows Bob Arctor is an undercover officer, and he has been steadily increasing his drug trafficking in an attempt to draw out the high level pushers, he becomes a high profile target and Fred is assigned to watch him. Because his own drug use has scrambled his brain a bit ¿ he must, after all, use drugs to fit in with the criminals ¿ Arctor begins to separate Bob Arctor from Fred so completely that eventually Fred even forgets that the person he is watching on the scanner is himself.You can imagine that this creates a wonderful template for an exploration of personal identity, as well as drug-induced personality disorders and drug culture itself. While the relationships among the minor characters is often confused and seemingly irrelevant there is a great deal of comedic value in their interactions and never do their antics overshadow the deeper meaning of the story. The large conspiracy surrounding the production of the narcotic de jour, Substance D, however, does encroach upon the key narrative a bit, and the ultimate twist that Dick creates at the end seems a bit shallow as it ties up the plot lines but has little relevance to the key relationship between Fred and Arctor. One can¿t help but wonder if this conspiracy thread is just the product of Dick¿s own drug-induced paranoia. If you can look past this, however, and focus on the humor and the psychology (perhaps even stop reading after chapter 13) you will find it a particularly enjoyable and original read.
omniavanitas on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not being one for trippy literature, I actually had some difficulty getting through this. I was expecting more of a scifi angle, I suppose. Ultimately, I did find it satisfying. I also found the Linklater film to be a pretty worthy adaptation, though it didn't dig quite as deep as the book.
ggarchar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Engrossing, nearly mystical. The movie illuminates the mood.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
wow, this is a wonderful work. if you like pkd's stuff, this should be on your list.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
It seemed oddly appropriate to read Philip Dick’s Scanner Darkly on my cell-phone. After all, it’s a book envisioning advanced technology; why not use modern technology to enjoy it. The plot also envisions a sadly decayed sociology, with concerns equally valid today, as the lines between guilty and betrayed grow cruelly frayed. Substance D is a drug that destroys its addicts from within, splitting the mind in two, tearing the self apart. But the law enforcement agents tackling it might themselves be torn in two, part of the problem and the solution; hiding their identities from everyone, even themselves. It leads to cruel dilemmas and even crueler plots. Scanner Darkly isn’t an easy read, but it’s filled with plausible dialog, deniable confusion, and characters deeply fascinating and flawed. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up the story again, forgetting who’s who just as surely as the characters do, and remembering too. Until that point where the plot begins to reveal itself instead of reveling in decay… until that point where it’s almost impossible to put the book down again because you’ve almost guessed but surely not and then you have to know. The novel reads as powerfully today as it must have done when first written. It blends hard realities with hilarious trials and tribulations, and it hides a wounded heart. Disclosure: I borrowed it and I really enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a genre sub combo i favor sample first
Anonymous More than 1 year ago