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A Review of VALIS

Posted by Scott Holstad on September 10, 2013

VALISVALIS by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

THIS ISN’T SCIENCE FICTION!!! THIS IS THEOLOGICAL CLAPTRAP DISGUISED AS SCIENCE FICTION AND IT SUCKS! This book is SO boring, I couldn’t get past page 65. Don’t get me wrong — I love Philip K. Dick, particularly his works from the 1950s and 60s, but the VALIS trilogy is just plain bad. I had wanted, cautiously, to read this book for awhile, merely due to its reputation, but having already read the third book in the trilogy, I didn’t have high hopes for it. So, I was (not) disappointed when I attempted to read it.

The book is utter crap. It actually should start later in the novel, where the protagonist, Horselover Fat, is locked up. Horselover Fat is also Philip K. Dick in the novel, and he’s going quite mad. He narrates the story as himself and as Horselover Fat, and they’re often interchangeable and you never really quite get what’s going on to whom. There’s a lot of Dick’s 1970s drug use, but other than that, I missed his usual brilliantly crafted future worlds of androids, lasers, robots, new slang, new inventions, new drugs, new powers, and his alternate worlds we so often see.

Horselover/Philip believes he has had an encounter with God or some kind of god-like entity, which also happens to have supposedly happened to the author in real life. VALIS stands for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, which is the name that Horselover/Philip gives to the god-like thing he experienced. He and his few friends gather to exchange lies and ideas on theological conspiracies and other such garbage and nothing happens in this novel. I wrote in the review of my last Dick book, the “straight” lit novel Voices From the Street, that I’m just not going to give books the kind of chances I once did, like reading 215 pages of that novel before giving up in disgust. I’ll still love Dick’s work, but I’m sticking with his non-theological, pure sci fi stuff from here on out. I can’t recommend this book to anyone, even hardcore Dick fans. And if you’re just starting to read Philip K. Dick, DON’T begin with this book because you’ll lose any interest in reading his finer works. I hated this book. One star.
View all my reviews

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