Saturday, December 19, 2009

Does Robo-Lincoln dream of freeing electric slaves?

This week I finished reading Philip K. Dick's We Can Build You after a few months of reader's block, during which I battled with a 600 page book that turned out to be pretty boring, despite having a pretty interesting premise. I have to start by saying that I own 25 books by Philip K. Dick, and that I absolutely love each and every one of them. There really is nothing quite like curling up in bed with a good old Dick between your hands. We Can Build You is about a small electronics firm that takes on the job of producing realistic androids (aka simulacra) based on Civil War figures, starting with Edwin M. Stanton and Abraham Lincoln, complete memory and psychological makeup included. The thing is, that's just on the outside. This fine novel actually deals with the most terrifying creature known to modern man, which is far worse than any mechanical creation that may be brought to life out of mere metal and silicon. What We Can Build You is really about is one man's descent into complete and utter madness as a result of falling in love with an 18 year old schizoid chick. That's right. Yet another PKD book that's basically an extremely well written cautionary tale about the dangers of getting involved with a total crazy bitch. Even the parts that are all about questioning the nature of reality, of the sort that's present in virtually all of Philip K. Dick's work, remain in the purely psychological realm. So instead of getting any 'real' reality shifts, it's more about the development of good old fashioned schizophrenia in the poor guy, a man whose only fault is having fully functional male genitalia. If there's one thing that PKD has taught me over the years it's that women are the enemy. The women in his stories are confident, powerful, cold blooded and highly sexual, and Pris Frauenzimmer here is no different. She's cold, calculating, mean, dangerous, and like most of Dick's female love interests, endowed with a lovely set of small, high breasts. I've read somewhere once that Philip K. Dick could never describe a woman's appearance without mentioning her boobs, and while not completely accurate, there's definitely some truth to it. I guess that the moral of the story is: never fall for chicks you're attracted to, because it's nothing but a clear recipe for disaster. Words to live by indeed.

One of the characters in We Can Build You is a mutant whose eyes are located under his nose and his mouth right above it. Here's what Philip K. Dick might have looked like if his own face were upside down:

Upside down PKD and a furry friend

The next Dick I'll be reading is going to be Galactic Pot Healer. And after that I'm going to have to get some more. I always need more. Even when all the various plots and characters start to mix together in my head. Especially when that happens. One can never have too much Dick.

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