The Penultimate Truth

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Overview

What if you discovered that everything you knew about the world was a lie? That's the question at the heart of Philip K. Dick's futuristic novel about political oppression, the show business of politics, and the sinister potential of the military-industrial complex. This wry, paranoid thriller imagines a future in which the earth has been ravaged, and cities are burnt-out wastelands too dangerous for human life. Americans have been shipped underground, where they toil in crowded industrial anthills and receive a ...
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2004 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 208 p. Vintage. *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a ... return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

What if you discovered that everything you knew about the world was a lie? That's the question at the heart of Philip K. Dick's futuristic novel about political oppression, the show business of politics, and the sinister potential of the military-industrial complex. This wry, paranoid thriller imagines a future in which the earth has been ravaged, and cities are burnt-out wastelands too dangerous for human life. Americans have been shipped underground, where they toil in crowded industrial anthills and receive a steady diet of inspiring speeches from a president who never seems to age. Nick St. James, like the rest of the masses, believes in the words of his leaders. But all that changes when he travels to the surface - where what he finds is more shocking than anything he could possibly imagine.

The story of a society forced into underground shelters after a nuclear war turns the USA into a burned-out landscape.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Released in 1964 and 1960, respectively, these titles both feature Dick's usual mix of utopian societies gone awry, politics, and the overall mess humankind has made of itself. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400030118
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/10/2004
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

One of the greatest authors of the 20th century, with a career spanning 3 decades and 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. Dick won the Hugo Award in 1963 and was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 he was the first science fiction to be published by the Library of America.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2012

    nice concept

    but poor execution, in my opinion. Would have better if it was longer and had more time to develop. Instead I'm thrown right into this new world and learn the "twist" rather early so the rest of the book stuggled to hold me attention.

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  • Posted August 20, 2011

    It would be fantastic if reveiwers woukd put a spoiler alert.

    If they're going to spoil it. Philip k. Dick is a great writer.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Our Need for Lies and Social Control.

    Phillip K Dick is a real treasure trove of strange and meaningful literature. Here, we see a multitude of sci-fi motifs assembled into something truly unique and intensely strange.
    The jacket of the novel states that the protagonist is a man named Nicholas St. James, the leader of an underground industrial anthill. The 21st century citizens who constitute these underground facilities are the survivors of World War III, in which the United States and Soviet Union have scorched the earth with radioactive weapons. The survivors work tirelessly in their bunkers to build robots to fight the war raging on the surface and are fed a diet of video propaganda by a wartime leader. However, St. James is forced to go above the surface to find an artificial pancreas to save the life of a fellow mechanic. I say the "stated" protagonist, because most of the plot action and characters come from above ground, starting early in the novel.
    I don't think that I'm spoiling anything by stating the main plot of the book isn't about the "secret" of the war. The novel is about the rich, ruling elite who own the vast majority of the world. The war ended long ago, but both governments decided to fabricate the lie of a continuing war, to use the robots generated for the war effort as a kind of feudal retinue to maintain vast stretches of land for themselves; land which recovered from the nukes. These elites have been lying for so long, what they fear the most is the populace finding out, rising from their tanks and taking back the planet. So, they fabricate more war videos and desperate speeches.
    The main character and plot action is the intrigues that occur between the ruling elite of the American side. The barons are dominated themselves by an old, bloated master who has access to wartime weapons so powerful and mysterious that their very existence could threaten the world. As he chooses to employ these weapons in his intrigues, Nick St. James gets sucked into a reality-twisting plot to, ironically, liberate these barons from their master.
    This novel bombards the reader with themes of social stratification and government showmanship. As the captors themselves are enslaved by one of their own, they have been forced into a cycle of lies. Returning the world to a freedom means that it must first be returned to a realization of truth, a concept so threatening to the social order that nobody can comprehend it. This fear cuts completely across the social strata, threatening everyone. Dick's keen insights on psychology tease the characters with the creeping question, "Wouldn't it be better if they never knew?" What's so effective about this novel is that it slowly convinced me, the reader, that this would be the case.
    What keeps this novel from greatness is the failure to commit to a stable protagonist. Nick St. James does not get much page space or a chance to develop. Some of the most important characters don't appear until late in the novel. The lack of character stability and general craziness of the plot indicate sloppiness in design. That being said, I enjoyed all 191 pages of this fascinating, mind-bending read and find it highly recommendable as a novel that speaks completely about our world and our governments. Like any great sci-fi, this isn't about robots or strange weapons, but about the power of social control.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2009

    Good Story, Nothing New

    This wasn't the most suprising of Dick's Novels but this could be of his own doing. He himself has broached these topics so many times its had to be surprized by them again. But all in all if you enjoy a good sci-fi novel and want to read somethng with decent twists and turns and an interesting look into the future and the depths men will strive this is a good book to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2000

    If I saw it on TV, then it must be true...

    This novel (based on an idea that he developed for a short story) is a view of the post-atomic-war world. On TV, the brave president of the United States (Yancey) still works on the surface to end the war with the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, huddled below, the vast majority of the population works day and night building robots to continue the war, so that the US may at last vanquish the USSR. It is all a lie. The war ended 20 minutes after it began, and much of the surface is habitable again. Nicholas St. James is forced to make the deadly journey from his below-ground city to the surface -- and learns the truth. (And this is just the Pen-ultimate truth)....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2010

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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    Posted August 9, 2011

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    Posted July 4, 2009

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    Posted December 21, 2009

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    Posted August 14, 2011

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    Posted July 15, 2011

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    Posted June 22, 2009

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    Posted November 17, 2008

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    Posted December 5, 2010

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