VALIS

( 29 )

Overview

“Dick is one of the ten best American writers of the twentieth century, which is saying a lot. Dick was a kind of Kafka steeped in LSD and rage.”—Roberto Bolaño

What is VALIS? This question is at the heart of Philip K. Dick’s ground-breaking novel, and the first book in his defining trilogy. When a beam of pink light begins giving a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns, he must decide whether he is...

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VALIS

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Overview

“Dick is one of the ten best American writers of the twentieth century, which is saying a lot. Dick was a kind of Kafka steeped in LSD and rage.”—Roberto Bolaño

What is VALIS? This question is at the heart of Philip K. Dick’s ground-breaking novel, and the first book in his defining trilogy. When a beam of pink light begins giving a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns, he must decide whether he is crazy, or whether a godlike entity is showing him the true nature of the world.

VALIS is essential reading for any true Philip K. Dick fan, a novel that Roberto Bolaño called “more disturbing than any novel by [Carson] McCullers.” By the end, like Dick himself, you will be left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and just what the price is for divine inspiration.

Valis, the disorienting and eerily funny centerpiece of Philip Dick's trilogy that includes The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, is part science fiction, part theological detective story. Here, God is both missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The quest for God is the binding theme of this trilogy. The ``funny and painful and sometimes brilliant'' VALIS(anagram) finds protagonist and Dick alter-ego Horselover Fat unable to reconcile human suffering with his belief in God. Invasion is a ``fascinating and highly readable'' vision of Armageddon, blending New Testament, Kabbalah and Dick's own worldview. In Transmigration , Angel Archer reminisces about her father-in-law, Timothy, an Episcopal bishop obsessed with a set of ancient scrolls that shed faith-threatening new light on Jesus: ``This finely crafted, odd but compelling book demonstrates Dick's great erudition, keen human insight and subtle ironic sense of humor,'' said PW. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547572413
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/18/2011
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 316,439
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Over a writing career that spanned three decades, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) published 36 science fiction novels and 121 short stories in which he explored the essence of what makes man human and the dangers of centralized power. Toward the end of his life, his work turned toward deeply personal, metaphysical questions concerning the nature of God. Eleven novels and short stories have been adapted to film; notably: Blade Runner (based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly. The recipient of critical acclaim and numerous awards throughout his career, Dick was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2005, and in 2007 the Library of America published a selection of his novels in three volumes. His work has been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 1, 2010

    Thought provoking.

    It took me a while to get into this book, but once I did I couldn't put it down. A really unique look at God and insanity and how the two intersect. I will definitely be reading it again in the near future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Brilliant Mess

    This is one of those fascinating bad books (like Melville's "Pierre") that one is at a loss to explain: not in terms of its subject or style, but more in terms of its existing at all. If anyone other than Philip K. Dick had written this. . . but no one else could possibly have written it. Soggily plotted, executed with all the attention to craft that Tom Sawyer gave the fence he was whitewashing, "Valis" nonetheless exerts a gravitational pull; I can imagine that for some people (Dick included) it is a gravity well. Part of what holds the reader is the knowledge, which the novel insists on and reminds us of, that certain ingredients of this story are autobiographical. The pink laser, the delivery girl with the fish pendant, an autodidact's brew of Gnosticism and information theory: these things all were part of Dick's personal narrative. All in all, reading this book is like watching a wreck go down on the Rube Goldberg Highway to Dysfunctional Heaven.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2000

    This book is a great masterpiece

    This is the only book that I've ever read that has the air of 'The Matrix,' which is a great movie. If you question reality and what we call 'God' itself, read this book, and you'll literally be 'enlightened', but not in some hokey spiritual way. I'd recommend this to anyone who has ever thought, 'Who are we? What are we? From where did we come?' An excellent novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    One of His Best

    VALIS is one of the best Philip K. Dick books ever written. It is extremely informational as well as autobiographical. Dick's Tractates Cryptica Scriptura (a brief insight of PKD's lifework in theories about reality) is also included in the back, which is a plus. It's extremely enlightening and moving, a story that I won't ever forget as long as I live. Dick may be right about everything, and if he is, we may be finding ourselves worshipping an ancient satellite's pink laser beam. And if he's not, I would be equally suprised.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2007

    painful to judge a classic

    This was a great trilogy, all three books stand out on their own so much that viewed seperately you might even not know that they're sequels. And for the most part, they aren't. I think these books are mote like 3 volumes, or vignettes that happen to coincide with the same topic. It's debatable and completely confusing to try and decipher whether these take place in the same universe, times, places. And i think Dick does this to make a point, that it's completely errouneous where a story takes place, the characters are all that matters. Of course interesting colors and splashes of light illuminate differrent aspects of the characters, but the proof is in the pudding. When you finish these novels, this one especially, you not only identify with a specific character, but you care. You are forced to feel sorry for these pathetic, and bumped around beings. These so called science fiction books(and i know Dick wouldn't share my resentment for the term) vomit empathy, and bleed humanity. All in all i'd say you ought to read all three of these books on principal alone, and because they're the treasured works of a brilliant author. But as far as continuity in sequels, i'd check in with Herbert or Assimov.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2003

    Breathtaking

    Valis is at once sublime and unsettling. From the schizophrenic changes from third to first person point of view ("I am writing this in the third person to gain much-needed objectivity", the narrator reminds himself as much as the reader) through the brilliant Tractates: Cryptica Scriptura that comprise the appendix, we see a work that goes beyond mere science fiction and attempts to wrestle with the insane story of life itself. This is a novel that seeks no less than the ultimate answers to life's biggest questions. Philip Dick in attempting to make sense of his own life gives us a work that is at once thrilling, empassioned, beautiful, funny, and sad. This is truly one of the greatest (and least appreciated) works of American literature. I can't say it gave me all the answers, but it raised many questions and new ideas as well as inspiring me in my own writing. Isn't that what great literature is about? Thank you, PKD, wherever you are.

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