Monday, July 31, 2006
Philip K. Dick, The Man Who Japed
Here's a fun mind-bender of a novel!
The year is 2114. In post-nuclear holocaust America, Allen Purcell finds himself in a position of power as he quickly ascends the government ranks to the position of Director of Telemedia, soon to be solely in charge of all that society deems ethical and morally correct. The problem is, one night he sneaks into a public park and "japes" (i.e., vandalizes) a statue of Major Jules Streiter, the founder of Moral Reclamation and symbol of all that this society must hold in reverence. The other problem is, he doesn't remember doing it. Dick's novel follows Purcell as he tries to unravel the circumstances that made him jape the statue, all the while trying to elude the authorities, his business superiors, and a mysterious Doctor Malpardo and his lovely sister, Gretchen.
I'm a relative newcomer to the fiction of Philip K. Dick, but I can certainly understand the cult-like attraction to his work. Although he mostly wrote during the decades spanning the fifties thru the seventies (he died in 1982), his characters and worlds and situations seem amazingly contemporary: paranoic page-turners that offer a glimpse of what our future may (already) hold. I read this book in one sitting!
Check it out.