Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

A Scanner Darkly, by Philip K. Dick

I had forgotten how raw and tragic this book is, with Dick's classic themes of confused identity and paranois merging in the story of the disintegration of Bob Arctor / Fred in the California drugs scene of the mid 1970s. The central section, when the viewpoint character is made to spy on himself, is particularly effective.

However, it's noticeable that all women characters, I think without exception, are referred to in terms of their beddability and breast size. Of course, Bob Arctor is almost the epitome of an unreliable narrator, and his semi-girlfriend Donna is almost the only main character with any common sense left; but even so, the book's unremitting sexism is pretty grating (and must surely have been a bit off even in the 1970s).

Still, the core prediction of the book, that 1994 would see the war on drugs still being waged and lost, only with superior technology and occasional state collusion, turns out to have been entirely true; twenty years on from 1994, and almost twice that from the time the book was written, we haven't learned much.
Tags: bookblog 2015, sf: bsfa award, writer: philip k dick

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