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Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Ubik by Philip K. Dick

Joe Chip works as a scout and team leader for Glen Runciter’s organization which employs people with the ability to counter psychic powers. This security service is useful against psychic espionage and sabotage. Runciter operates the company with the occasional advice from his wife who is kept in “half-life” at a moratorium. These near-dead individuals are kept in cryo-sleep and are provided with the means to communicate given they still have some cerebral activity.


When Stanton Mick, a well-known businessman, hires Runciter to provide psychic security to his facilities, Runciter assembles a team that includes a young woman who can supposedly undo the past. Of course, the whole exercise is a trap and an explosion nearly kills Runciter without harming the rest of the team, who subsequently tries to rush their boss to the moratorium. On the way, they experience suspicious changes to reality. The story, with Chip as the main character, follows the team’s efforts to solve their problems.


While there are those who are put off by Dick’s simple and unpretentious voice, it is exactly that which makes his work easy to read. His prose is typically sufficient to paint an interesting picture without resorting to long, clumsy paragraphs of description. Although it is not written like a screenplay, his writing does lend itself to being cinematic. This is especially helpful given that his ideas and plot are not always simple. Ubik is no exception and it contains the usual Dickian traits: an exploration of consciousness, perception and reality.

 

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