Fiction: Sci-Fi

A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

I will admit that this book definitely lies outside the realm of my usual to-read list, but it came highly recommended by my movie-going companion so I thought I would give it a try. Besides, it’s good for me to get outside of my reading comfort zone, right?! And I’m glad I did.

I’ll be honest, the first 100 pages or so were actually painful to read. The characters aren’t very likable and the language is sort of dated and stilted (partially due to the age of the book and also partially on purpose because of the drug culture being portrayed) and it was fairly confusing and more than a little bit dry. In short, it’s about an undercover policeman who’s posing as a drug dealer and, because of the amount of drugs he has to take to stay in character, he begins to lose his grip on reality and it becomes less and less clear whether or not he’s a cop posing as a drug dealer, a drug dealer posing as a cop, or something else entirely. See? Confusing!

But at around page 100, though I still didn’t care about the characters, I became very wrapped up in trying to figure out what was happening and which reality was the real one. It’s also a book that I think would definitely benefit from a second reading – but I’m not sure I’ll get around to that since rereads are not usually my thing.

So yes, an interesting read and a book I’m glad I read, but I’m not sure I’d go out of my way to read more Philip K. Dick. I suppose it’ll just depend if any other books of his are recommended to me.

My rating: B

p.s. – Had a bit of a discussion with the loanee about whether or not this book should actually be considered sci-fi. I say that it’s just fiction* since the sci-fi elements are not the point of novel, just the background that’s used to get across the author’s larger idea, but he maintains that any dystopian novel (or utopian novel, for that matter) belongs in sci-fi. I think we just agreed to disagree.

Even though I’m totally right.

But then I thought ‘What about speculative fiction? That’s a thing right?’ I have to find out more before I can incorporate it (or not) into my argument. Thoughts?

*Yes, I know the title of this post is ‘Fiction: Sci-Fi’ but I’m leaving it that way just in case anyone’s desperate to read it because that’s where it’ll be found in the library/bookshop.


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