I finished this last week, but I never got around to writing about it. Sci-fi is pretty daunting – or rather, writing about it is – since I could easily count the books I’ve read pertaining to the genre (and they’re not many). Still, I think I’ve used this disclaimer before, at this point, it’s probably more of a space-filler than anything (although it’s still true), because I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s sort of embarrassing, really 😀
Ubik was fun and definitely suspenseful – that’s why I’ll try to stay away from the actual plot details (which doesn’t leave me with much else, so this post will be mercifully short). The 1992 Phillip K Dick imagines is, thankfully, just as outlandish in 2010 as it was in the 60s, when the book was written – and just as oppressing. Joe Chip, whose life is entirely controlled by machines (or rather, by his inability to pay them) is the closest we get to a contemporary mind and a contemporary point of view. The rest of this world we’re thrown in is filled with people with “talents” – precogs, psis and those who can neutralize them – while space colonies are only too common (Mars, Luna). But the most disturbing aspect of this future is definitely the half-life in cold-pac: a way of conserving those who have died and consulting with them (by tapping straight into their cerebral activity) when the need arises. It’s not the desire to communicate with the dead that’s unusual, but the fact that they are forced into some kind of limbo by the living, becoming nothing but objects to them – and yet leading terrible lives inside their mind. It’s great – in a twisted, nightmarish kind of way. 😉 Plus – you gotta love the little advertisements for Ubik – and at the same time wonder what the hell could it be.
And if you’ve stuck around this much, here’s an interview with Michael Chabon about his work and Kavalier & Clay in particular.