by Philip K. Dick


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“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. Dick’s 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547572413
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Series: Valis Trilogy Series , #1
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 178,624
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 12.10(h) x 3.60(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.

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Valis 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the only book that I've ever read that has the air of 'The Matrix,' which is a great movie. If you question reality and what we call 'God' itself, read this book, and you'll literally be 'enlightened', but not in some hokey spiritual way. I'd recommend this to anyone who has ever thought, 'Who are we? What are we? From where did we come?' An excellent novel.
Buer_Douglas More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I couldn't put it down. A really unique look at God and insanity and how the two intersect. I will definitely be reading it again in the near future.
trhummer More than 1 year ago
This is one of those fascinating bad books (like Melville's "Pierre") that one is at a loss to explain: not in terms of its subject or style, but more in terms of its existing at all. If anyone other than Philip K. Dick had written this. . . but no one else could possibly have written it. Soggily plotted, executed with all the attention to craft that Tom Sawyer gave the fence he was whitewashing, "Valis" nonetheless exerts a gravitational pull; I can imagine that for some people (Dick included) it is a gravity well. Part of what holds the reader is the knowledge, which the novel insists on and reminds us of, that certain ingredients of this story are autobiographical. The pink laser, the delivery girl with the fish pendant, an autodidact's brew of Gnosticism and information theory: these things all were part of Dick's personal narrative. All in all, reading this book is like watching a wreck go down on the Rube Goldberg Highway to Dysfunctional Heaven.
danconsiglio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
So good! Another of Dick's "Look at me! I'm crazyyyyyyy!" books. Read this before Radio Free Albemuth.
funkendub on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a strange, strange and again wonderfully strange writer he was.
ccosner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm giving this book five stars because I really enjoyed it, not because I'm sure you will. It was a quick and gripping read for me because I was ready for all the material, but I admire those who have been unable to get through it the first time and then kept coming back until they could finish the book. It's worth the effort.You should prepare to read this book. I hope that doesn't discourage you. All of these topics are a pleasure in and of themselves: Read up on gnosticism in your favorite encyclopedia. Understand the basic ideas and stories/parables of Christianity (if, for example, you weren't raised with them). Read some of Philip K. Dick's other works, or at least watch Blade Runner in order to understand what kind of SF author he is. This is not SF, but the author himself is a character in the book. Read the Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. Specifically, Dostoevsky's treatment of the suffering of children. At the very least understand the term Theodicy. Read Faust. Maybe more than one version. Read something with an unreliable narrator (Lolita, or Pale Fire by Nabokov come to mind, but those can be difficult works too). The point is that you have to be used to not trusting everything the narrator says. Read something more or less autobiographical by someone suffering mental illness, say The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath. For some reason, the SF movie The Man Who Fell to Earth kept coming to mind for me. There is a movie described in the book, and that's definitely NOT it, but it's the same sort of counter-culture oddball film with a rock star. Finally, look up the term 'Holographic Universe'. I think those people are out to lunch, but I find it curious that PKD had latched onto the same ideas.The above recommendations will give you a grounding that makes VALIS even richer. You could read the book without all that, but why not go down some of the same paths PKD did first?
ursula on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having only previously read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I'm not sure I was entirely prepared for this book, but I still found it fascinating.It's not scifi, it's mostly an autobiographical account of possible schizophrenia with some fiction thrown in. The subject of the book, Horselover Fat, has an experience in which he thinks that he has interacted not God, but "Zebra," the rational being behind the irrational world. This interaction occurs through a beam from a pink laser. The author of the book experienced the same thing, at the same time. Fascinating, at times fantastical, and then at times so lucid in its truth that it's hard to believe. If you have an interest in Gnostic Christianity or the nature of existence, you'll probably enjoy it even more than I did.
colinflipper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like many other PKD novels, Valis deals with the question of reality. As usual, drugs and insanity get tied in, but the main avenue of exploration here is religion. In fact, significant sections of the book really wouldn't be classified as narrative fiction and are instead closer to be expository writing about the 'true' nature of the universe. This bogs things down towards the start of the book, but a plot does show up to carry things along.Dick is often accused of being a bad writer (but with brilliant ideas). Reading other books of his ('A Scanner Darkly', 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep', etc), I had never really noticed this. I definitely do notice the sloppy writing in Valis.So, in summary, if you like the idea of reading about PKD's wild (and frequently confusing) religious beliefs, then dive in. Otherwise, you'll probably want to steer clear because the expository sections and generally flat writing will wear you down.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
PKD, how do i love thee... let me count the ways.
reverends on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like most of Philip K. Dick¿s novels, the main characters around which the story of Valis revolves are engaging, sympathetic, and mirrors of the social and psychological complexities faced by mankind. Unlike his other novels, however, the main characters in Valis are actually PKD himself. This results in the occasional switch from first and third person narrative, and several instances in which the author and the author surrogate interact with one another.Valis (the name assigned by the main characters to their vision of God) is less of a novel than it is a fictionalized account of PKD¿s own spiritual journey. Because of this, a good portion of the middle becomes bogged down with in depth descriptions of PKD¿s theological views and theories. Anyone not well versed in Gnosticism and Metaphysical Theory will be tempted to skim several pages of text at a time, and might even debate whether finishing the book is worth the trouble. This will be especially true of readers who are only familiar with his early science fiction work and not prepared for a crash course in PKD¿s exegesis. In some ways, Valis could be considered PKD¿s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, except the focus of this road trip isn¿t the American Dream, but the True Nature of God.Above all else, PKD is a master storyteller, and this is what saves Valis from being a stuffy and unintelligible pseudo-memoir about a spiritual journey. The uncertainty of the narrator¿s true identity (both to the reader and the narrator), as well as the sympathetic nature of his plight and the conspiracy-drenched plot twists reminiscent of Robert Anton Wilson (whom PKD mentions in the book) will keep you interested enough to struggle through the denser passages. But you also find yourself riveted as you gain closer insight into the mind of one of the greatest science fiction authors of the last century.Valis is a perfect snapshot of a time not so long ago, when there existed a movement of authors that eagerly blended the lines between science-fiction and spiritualism. It was a time when optimism regarding mankind¿s future potential was almost intoxicating, and the experimental expansion of the mind and spirit were deemed as important as technological advancements. Looking back, it may seem a bit naive and fanciful, but it was also full of hope and wonder, two traits that seem to be lacking more and more with today¿s sci-fi authors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the biography on PKD and believe this was his effort to make sense of the hallucinations that followed a stroke. He was a brilliant man, and while I think the underlying cause resulted in flawed conclusions, his attempts to make sense of it are a great insight into his genius.
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