(1965 / 2007) Philip K. Dick, Gollancz, £7.99, pbk, 278 pp, ISBN 978-0-575-0-7994-6
Originally published in 1965, this has just (2007) been reprinted by Gollancz. For those of you who may have seen Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, Philip K. Dick even supplies a subtitle as well - Or How We Got Along After the Bomb - though this is missing from a number of editions including the latest Gollancz reprint. Nonetheless as it implies, the novel is Dick's purest take on a post-holocaust America and is hugely, tragically funny. The novel abounds with memorable characters trying to survive after the mainstream of American culture collapses, but the most memorable are Dr. Bloodmoney himself, who we find attending a psychiatrist before the bombs fall, and Hoppy Harrington, a phocomelus confined to a little electric cart.
As with most post-apocalyptic novels, the plot is about the way people try to hang on to the civilised values they once had. Fortunately for us, Philip K Dick throws in more besides. Hoppy, the once distained member of a small town's electrical repair and TV salesroom, becomes the new community's essential handyman - with a difference. Dr. Bloodmoney, meanwhile, becomes a strange mystical hermit on the edge of the community. We all know who he is, but will the community realise?
OK. Dick doesn't do that. Reality, as always with Dick, is mutable and subject to interpretation. Dick paints his picture with style and a sensational attention to the details of his characters; be they ex-weapons developers or ex-schoolteachers with a penchant for wild mushrooms, Dick feels they deserve his attention. This one may be a little off the tracks for some, but for me it is unmissable.
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