Wednesday, December 31, 2008

by Philip K. Dick

Reading Valis is like taking an extended vacation to the recesses of the mind. It truly makes one feel as though one is on some sort of trip, psychedelically speaking, which could be good or bad, depending on your intentions. For me, the trip got to be a bit long.

This is my second Dick reading experience, and I'm not sure if I'll pick him up again. Not because he's not a great writer. He is, he's very readable and his ideas are intriguing, but because I just don't find myself getting into him, not the way most Dick fans seem to.

Of course, I say that knowing I probably will pick him up again. His contribution to science fiction is too important to overlook. His novels too interesting to look past. So when I say I won't read another Dick novel, I say that with the best of intentions.

Valis is about God. More specifically, it's directly based on Dick's self-described experience with a "transcendentally rational mind." The story follows the experience of Horselover Fat, a schizophrenic compartment of Dick's actual self, as he follows a quest to find the messiah after a pink light that he thinks is God tells him how to save his son's life.

The novel rambles and raves about the nature of religion, makes compelling arguments about sanity, insanity, rational and irrational, and would probably be considered a legitimate study of theology if it didn't feel so drug-induced. I enjoyed the book, very much so, and it did make me think. Dick's quest is one to be admired and sought after, but I don't think I can read another. I don't have enough brain cells left.

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