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Worlds Without End Blog

PKD Bonanza at Audible Posted at 3:46 PM by James Wallace Harris


Philip K. DickEver since 2002, I’ve been buying classic science fiction at I love listening to all the great science fiction stories I first discovered in the 1960s and 1970s. I now prefer to hear a book over reading it. I’m not much of a reader — my inner voice is so dull compared to professional audio book narrators. Listening makes a story come alive in a way that reading with my eyes never did. And it’s a special pleasure to “reread” all my favorites this way because it makes them feel new again.

On April 28th released 11 Philip K. Dick novels, a 5-volume collection of his complete short stories, and one novella to their already extensive collection of PKD on audio. I assume the 5-volume audio collection contains the same stories that old print edition I own, The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick published by Citadel Twilight back in the 1990s. Each audio volume has been re-titled from the Subterranean Press edition. Audible, as it often does with short story collections, doesn’t list the stories, and that’s annoying. Each volume is around 20 hours long. Check out the sample recordings. This is a huge dose of PKD – almost 100 hours – maybe an overdose. But I’m going to eventually buy them all.

What’s really exciting for me, is they have published six of the nine literary novels on audio that haven’t been produced before. These include (with date written and date first published):

  • Voices from the Street (1952/2007)
  • Mary and the Giant (1956/1987)
  • Puttering About in a Small Land (1957/1985)
  • In Milton Lumky Territory (1958/1986)
  • Humpty Dumpty in Oakland (1960/1987)
  • The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (1960/1975)

Previously published on audio were the other three mainstream novels.

  • Gather Yourselves Together (1952/1994)
  • The Broken Bubble (1956/1988)
  • Confessions of a Crap Artist (1959/1975)

I wrote about PKD’s literary novels at SF Signal. Confessions of a Crap Artist is my all-time favorite Dick novel. He might have put more work into his literary novels, because at one time he wanted to break out of writing science fiction and go mainstream. It would have meant more money, and he would have proved himself as a “real” writer. Now he’s probably the most famous SF novelist on the planet.

Ubik Martian Time-Slip Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said Dr. Bloodmoney: or, How We Got Along After the Bomb The Cosmic Puppets Nick and the Glimmung

Audible also came out on the 28th with (some are books with new narrators, and some are new to audio):

  • Ubik
  • Martian Time-Slip
  • Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
  • Dr. Bloodmoney
  • The Cosmic Puppets
  • “Nick and the Glimmung” – novella

Here are PKD’s novels – red means there’s no audio edition at Audible.

  1. Gather Yourselves Together (1950)
  2. Voices from the Street (1952)
  3. Solar Lottery (1954)
  4. Mary and the Giant (1954)
  5. The World Jones Made (1954)
  6. Eye in the Sky (1955)
  7. The Man Who Japed (1955)
  8. The Broken Bubble (1956)
  9. The Cosmic Puppets (1957)
  10. Puttering About in a Small Land (1957)
  11. Time Out of Joint (1958)
  12. In Milton Lumky Territory (1958)
  13. Confessions of a Crap Artist (1959)
  14. The Man Whose Teeth Were All Exactly Alike (1960)
  15. Humpty Dumpty in Oakland (1960)
  16. Vulcan’s Hammer (1960)
  17. Dr. Futurity (1960)
  18. The Man in the High Castle (1961)
  19. We Can Build You (1962)
  20. Martian Time-Slip (1962)
  21. Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb (1963)
  22. The Game-Players of Titan (1963)
  23. The Simulacra (1963)
  24. The Crack in Space (1963)
  25. Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)
  26. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (1964)
  27. The Zap Gun (1964)
  28. The Penultimate Truth (1964)
  29. The Unteleported Man (1964)
  30. The Ganymede Takeover (1965) with Ray Nelson
  31. Counter-Clock World (1965)
  32. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1966) (as Blade Runner)
  33. Nick and the Glimmung (1966)
  34. Now Wait for Last Year (1966)
  35. Ubik (1966)
  36. Galactic Pot-Healer (1968)
  37. A Maze of Death (1968)
  38. Our Friends from Frolix 8 (1969)
  39. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (1974)
  40. Deus Irae (1976) with Roger Zelanzy
  41. Radio Free Albemuth (1976; published 1985)
  42. A Scanner Darkly (1977)
  43. VALIS (1981)
  44. The Divine Invasion (1981)
  45. The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982)

Thank you Audible, and all the publishers. I can listen to practically everything PKD wrote.

The Man in the High Castle – Free Pilot on Amazon Instant Video Posted at 1:47 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

The Man in the High Castle

So the internet is starting to buzz about Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1963 Hugo Award winning The Man in the High Castle.  I discovered it late last night in a deep internet dive and finished it off just now during my lunch break.  I’m not sure how I missed that this was a thing, especially since it is produced by Ridley Scott, but I did and I thought maybe some folks around WWEnd might not be aware of it either.

The pilot episode is free to watch on Amazon Instant Video (US only apparently) and is part of their Pilot Season where you get to watch a number of pilots and cast your votes for the ones you would like to see made into full a season.  The Man in the High Castle is by far the most interesting of the bunch, at least from a genre fan perspective, and it’s really really good – great story, very high production values and some really good acting – and you can’t argue with Rufus Sewell as the baddie.  That dude is just creepy.

I would like to see much more of this show so do go over and check it out.  You can also check out some clips over on The Wertzone to get a taste.  If you like it be sure to take the survey on the Pilot Season page and be sure to spread the word.  Let’s make this the one they pick!  If you’ve seen it, let us know what you thing of it.


Philip K. Dickathon: Counter-Clock World Posted at 12:31 PM by Charles Dee Mitchell


Guest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd and we’ve invited him to contribute to our blog. This is the latest in Dee’s series of Philip K. Dick reviews that he started on his blog We’ll keep posting them until he runs out of reviews or gets tired of Philip K. Dick books.

Conter-Clock WorldThis is the first Philip K. Dick novel I have read in seven months, and I have to say — it felt like coming home.

The Dickian weirdness begins on page one. A policeman patrolling a rundown cemetery hears a familiar sound. A recently revived corpse calls out from her grave, “My name is Mrs. Tilly M. Benton, and I want to get out. Can anyone hear me?”

Dick published Counter-Clock World in 1967 and set it in the near future of 1998. But in this world, the Hobart Phase has been operating since 1986. Time is going in reverse. The dead are returning to life, and the lucky ones are rescued in time by vitarium operators, those who dig up the “old born,” get them healthy, and then sell them off to the highest bidder. This is usually a family member willing to care for an aged relative who will now, like everyone else on earth, start the process of becoming younger. (Unclaimed old borns become wards of the state.)

Right. The Hobart Phase. That thing where time starts running in reverse. Dick, as is usually the case, cannot be bothered by all the details of such a preposterous notion, at least not to the extent that it might slow down the story. He gives us the bits he finds funniest, most notably the fact that eating has become disgorging, an act done in private. Meanwhile everyone expects at least a daily dose of sogum. They look forward to it like it was cocktail hour and sometimes make a date to meet at sogum palaces. “Sogum,” although it sounds like a combination energy drink and drug, is clearly something to do with excrement, and for once we can be glad Dick spares us the details.

But all the implications of a world truly running in reverse are not Dick’s concern, and don’t let it be yours either or you will never make it through the novel. His plot surrounds the resurrection of a religious leader who the novel’s main character, Sebastian Hermes, proprietor of Cup of Hermes Vitarium, realizes will be a hot property on the resale market. What he doesn’t expect is the world of dangerous intrigues having the Anarch Peak on hand will expose him to. Rome wants him; the current leader of the Udites, Peak’s religion, wants him; and, the librarians and erads, whose job is to keep eliminating knowledge and art that could not yet have existed, they want him bad. They suspect, with good reason as it turns out, that Peak will have insights to the afterlife that other of the old born have not been able to articulate.

Dick puts his rather flat characters through a plot that spans only a couple of days but is filled with lies, bomb threats, assaults, a little adultery, and some soul searching. This is Dick’s most overtly religious novel, although it is hard to know exactly what he is thinking about when it comes to the religious implications of the plot. But he shares that sense of muddle-headedness with his lead character.

Religion, Sebastian thought wearily. More ins and outs, more angles, than ordinary commerce. The casuistry had already gone beyond him. He gave up.

Read Total Recall for 99¢ on Kindle Posted at 10:05 PM by Rico Simpkins


Yes, we know.  This remake is slap in the face to the Ahnold.  Even director Len Wiseman seems a little sheepish about it in his latest interview.  Just remember, even the “original” Schwarzenegger engine wasn’t an original, either.  It was an adaptation, of course, of Philip K. Dick‘s classic short story, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.  Before you see the movie, read it!  To commemorate the release of the new film, Amazon has released the story under the latter day title, Total Recall.

Philip K. Dickathon: The Zap Gun Posted at 7:06 AM by Charles Dee Mitchell


Guest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd and we’ve invited him to contribute to our blog. This is the latest in Dee’s series of Philip K. Dick reviews that he started on his blog We’ll keep posting them until he runs out of reviews or gets tired of Philip K. Dick books.

The Zap GunI was about fifty pages into The Zap Gun when it hit me. This PKD novel is a sustained satire on a focused topic. Each chapter did not introduce new characters with no discernible link to those I had already met. The plot had not yet splintered into blind alleys and drug-induced hallucinations. And PKD’s writing seemed relaxed. It lacked the driven quality that can inform both his best and worst books. He was having fun with this one.

The object of his satire is the cold war arms race. The novel, written in 1965, is set in 2004. Lars Powderdry, known as Mr. Lars to his adoring fans, is a fashion weapons designer, the best in West-bloc. (West-bloc is us, the good guys. The enemy is a Soviet controlled Peep-east.) Lars designs while in a drug-induced trance. His sketches are whisked off to labs for fabrication and testing. His Peep-east counterpart is a young woman named Lily Topchev.

There is a dirty secret behind all this high tech militarism. None of the weapons work, nor are they needed. Agreements between West-bloc and Peep-east have made such weaponry obsolete. Films of the weapons in use are simulations using robots and special effects. The sketches are "plowshared." They become the basis for household gadgets and toys. The masquerade is necessary to keep the masses, the "pursaps," happy. They want both the threat of annihilation and the comfort afforded by weapons to avoid it. But then alien satellites appear in Earth’s skies and begin abducting entire cities to serve as slave labor in the Sirius galaxy. Lars and Lily need to make a real weapon but fast.

PKD outdoes himself with neologisms and acronyms in The Zap Gun. The concept of plow sharing has real poetry to it. The society is divided between an elite group of "cogs" and a mass of "pursaps." Lars is a cog, and he hopes the term derives from cognoscenti. I thought he was worried it might imply he was merely a cog in a wheel, but he goes back to an early English usage where "to cog" was to cheat at dice. I was pronouncing "pursaps" in a way that suggested "poor saps," but Dick makes it clear he means "pure saps." Surly G. Febbs embodies Dick’s jaundiced view of the masses. He is a self-important, deluded pursap angered because an alien invasion is delaying his appointment to what he imagines is an important government post. Febbs is a master of neologisms, hyphenated nouns, and acronyms, and he looks with disdain on those pursaps who cannot stay abreast of the lingo. That will likely include the reader, who might have trouble remembering what MACH stands for or just what a concomody does. Acronym fever reaches new heights with the creation of the BOCFDUTCRBASEBFIN. Who knows what it stands for? Just say it with confidence.

How earth repels the invaders is handled cleverly and dispatched with quickly. There is always the sense that PKD might not care much about his own plots. Of the PKD novels I have known almost nothing of before opening to page one, The Zap Gun is among the most enjoyable. I read that PKD wrote it because a publisher requested a story with Zap Gun as the title. That could be true. He once expanded a novella into a novel because the publisher had cover art he really liked. But PKD does well by his arbitrary title. In one scene the weapons designers are discussing their basic uselessness, and Lars says of the pursaps, "All they really want is a Zap Gun." That throwaway line sums up the satire and the underlying anger in the book.

Philip K. Dickathon: Now Wait for Last Year Posted at 10:56 PM by Charles Dee Mitchell


Guest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd and we’ve invited him to contribute to our blog. This is the latest in Dee’s series of Philip K. Dick reviews that he started on his blog We’ll keep posting them until he runs out of reviews or gets tired of Philip K. Dick books.

Now Wait for Last YearI hate it when this happens. I try out a brand new hallucinogenic drug only to find out that it is addictive after a single use. Then, while suffering withdrawals, I’m offered help only if I agree to spy on my estranged husband who is now special physician to the ailing Sec. Gen of the United Nations Gino Molinari. I take more of the drug to get me through the trip to the White House in Cheyenne, Wyoming, only to find that the drug messes not only with my sense of time but with time itself. I find myself stuck in a cow pasture in an auto-cab in the year 1935. The cab cannot make it to Cheyenne without refueling, and so we have to wait for the effects of the drug to wear off so we will be returned to the mid 21st century where the super-refined protonex that fuels the cab will once again be available.

Actually that has never happened to me. But it happens to Kathy Sweetscent in Now Wait for Last Year, and true to the spirit of PKD‘s novels this wild scene is barely a sidebar to what — or whatever — the book is about. Kathy will make it to Cheyenne, where the time-traveling aspects of the drug JJ-180 will mess with her life and that of her long-suffering, at least in his own mind, husband, Dr. Eric Sweetscent. He has an obese, hypochondriac despot to keep alive while earth is embroiled in a losing war between ‘Starmen and reegs. Earth has teamed with the ‘Starmen because they are humanoid. The reegs are six-foot tall bugs who must communicate through boxes that resemble training potties. But they are also winning the war. And ‘Starmen are infiltrating earth, and Molinari, known affectionately as The Mole, may actually be at death’s doorstep, or he might be yet another of the simulacra he has had made of himself, one of which is his young, vibrant leader self while another is a bullet-riddled corpse lying in a glass coffin.

Molinari is both a buffoon and shrewd politico. His constantly failing body may only be a ruse to get out of awkward meetings with the overbearing Frenesky, leader of the ‘Starmen. I pictured him as a character actor whose name I cannot remember, but PKD himself thought of him as a combination of Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and Mussolini. (That was a personality triad PKD attributed to several of his favorite characters.)

The plot starts running out of steam towards the end, but there are classic PKD moments of paranoia, intrigue, and absurdity. Now Wait for Last Year has made it into the three volume set of PKD novels distributed by the Library of America, so its reputation must be pretty good.

What is real? Total Recall – 2012 Posted at 11:21 PM by Dave Post

Dave Post

So… this. You know, I’m not sure this movie really needed to be made but part of me is kinda’ glad they did. You see, I really loved the first one when it came out in 1990. Total Recall had a lot going for it: great special effects (for the time), cool story, Ahhnuld was still a complete bad ass, there was a cat fight with a couple hot chicks and who could forget the Martian woman with 3 boobs? What more could you want? Well, a lot actually.

Time as not been kind to the original Total Recall. After more than 20 years it’s damn near unwatchable now that we’re all grown up. Not that it would stop me from watching it anyway. Nostalgia has a way of making even bad movies into favorites over time. You recognize all the failings of plot, production values and, oh my God!, acting but you can still enjoy it by reaching back to the time you saw it with your buddies on opening day and you were all blown away.

You remember that scene where Quaid is fighting Richter on the open elevator? The whole movie he’s been chased and shot at by that guy and you knew the big fight scene was going to be epic when he finally caught up to Quaid. Well, the fight was pretty damn good, what with Richter getting his arms chopped off and all, but what made that scene was Quaid’s one-liner at the end. He’s still holding on to Richter’s severed arms and he says "See you at za paarty, Rischta!" then tosses his arms after him as Richter plunges to his death. Classic Ahhnuld! My friends and I still quote that line more than 20 years later!

Despite my love of the original I’d still like to see what can be done with that story today – better special affects, a tighter story, better acting and a higher level of realism. I want all that and the hot chicks and kick ass fight scenes and explosions too. The trailer makes it look like they’ll be able to deliver on most of those. The world looks gritty and gnarly like a Bladerunner/Fifth Element mash up and they seem to have replaced Johnny Cab with flying cars which is all to the good. The chicks are a huge improvement in the hot department, if not the acting, and Collin Farrell’s got some Jason Bourne type moves in his repertoire and he’s only got to be a better actor than 90’s Ahhnuld so I feel pretty good about that. Over all I think the trailer looks pretty good – just not awesome – so I’m feeling a bit optimistic right now.

The big questions in my mind are story and directing. The story should be simple enough if they just tweak the original a bit. I’ve never read the original short story, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick, but if they’ve gone back to that for material I’ll count that as a plus.

The director, Len Wiseman, is unknown to me and his resume seems a bit light. Based on his director credits I have to hope that Total Recall is his break-out movie. Of course, if you like the Underworld saga you may feel differently. At the very least he’s not Michael Bay.

It’s a long way ’till August and we’ll have tons more trailers and behind the scenes footage before then to make a better judgment but for now I’m in. There are still a dozen ways that this movie could suck, and frankly, I suspect it will suck, but I’m still going to see it if only for the special effects and the hope that they manage one scene as great as Quaid vs. Richter. Oh, and the 3 boobs. Some things are sacred. See you at za moovie, Rischta!

SF/F Quotes: Philip K. Dick Posted at 9:06 AM by Dave Post

Dave Post

Because today we live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups…  So I ask, in my writing, What is real?  Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms.  I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power.  They have a lot of it.  And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind.  I ought to know.  I do the same thing.

Philip K. Dick
I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon


Philip K. Dickathon: The Crack in Space Posted at 9:03 PM by Charles Dee Mitchell


Guest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd and we’ve invited him to contribute to our blog. This is the latest in Dee’s series of Philip K. Dick reviews that he started on his blog We’ll keep posting them until he runs out of reviews or gets tired of Philip K. Dick books.

The Crack in SpaceRegular readers of Philip K Dick would not expect him to write a novel exploring social issues, but in this case that is what he seems to think he is doing. The result is a muddle of ideas that try to stay topical while medium level PKD weirdness circles around them.

The setting for The Crack in Space is the late 21st century, and overpopulation, combined with a shortage of jobs, has become the major problem facing the human race. The solution has been to warehouse those who request it in suspended animation with the promise of awakening them when social conditions change. This is also a racial issue. "Cols" are now the majority population, and also the least employable. "Caucs" maintain the systems of government while millions of Cols become "bibs," — the name given to those warehoused sleepers. (I never quite figured out the "bib" allusion. Also in the book are "Jerries," the older generation that can still remember the way things used to be.)

It is a presidential election year, and the Republican Liberal Party candidate for the first time is a Col. Jim Briskin wants to be president and in his brilliant speeches is willing to say what he thinks the people, and the Col majority, want to here. He promises to close the warehouses and find a way to resolve the bib situation. He proposes pursuing some outdated technology called planet wetting to create habitable colonies. He will also close down Thisbe Olt’s pleasure satellite The Golden Door, an orbiting brothel with thousands of working women and an enormous clientele. Thisbe’s operation has been legalized as a means of keeping the population down. (Question mark. Exclamation point. WTF) None of Briskin’s ideas are really feasible.

Then there are the Jerry Scuttlers, devices that are intended to transport their owners anywhere they want to go. Unfortunately they have design flaws. One owner complains that his always delivers him to Portland, Oregon. A repairman, however, discovers that the machine has a rent in its fabric that delivers one to a verdant, apparently virgin land that could solve the immigration problem.

So PKD has his usual half dozen plots in play, but much centers on that flawed Jerry Scuttler and the fact that Briskin may be able to come through with his promise of closing the bib warehouses, But when the new land is discovered to be a version on Terra itself that has followed a different evolutionary path than our own planet, new racial problems arise with how to treat the inhabitants there. They are not homo sapiens but intellectually capable offspring of hominid strains removed from our history.

The Crack in Space has subplots that go nowhere and either resolve themselves almost as soon as they are introduced or need quick sentence summaries toward the end of the novel. Nothing about it addresses in any coherent way the social issues it raises. It is at its best when played as farce, with characters traveling the planet in their Jet Hoppers and scrambling to put together a winning presidential campaign, But it remains a muddle and, unusual for a PKD novel, manages to become somewhat dull. This despite that fact that one character is the unicephalic twin George Walt — one head, two bodies, two personalities. He is the proprietor of the Golden Door and is briefly worshipped as a god by the inhabitants of the parallel universe opened by the defected Jerry Scuttler.

Philip K. Dickathon: The Penutimate Truth Posted at 3:33 AM by Charles Dee Mitchell


Guest Blogger and WWEnd Member, Charles Dee Mitchell, has contributed a great many book reviews to WWEnd and we’ve invited him to contribute to our blog. This is the latest in Dee’s series of Philip K. Dick reviews that he started on his blog We’ll be posting one every week until he runs out of reviews or gets tired of Philip K. Dick books.

The Penultimate TruthI never care for books that claim to be as pertinent today as the day they were written or to contain a story that could be ripped from today’s headlines. Copies of The Penultimate Truth (1964) do not make those claims, but as we watch the various "Occupy" movements take place, I couldn’t help but think that Philip K. Dick‘s novel described a society badly in need of an Occupy Earth movement.

As is so often the case with PKD novels, there has been an atomic war. I think he places this one in the 1980’s, and he still imagines such a conflict would involve Western democracies and Soviet controlled countries. As bombs drop, much of the fighting is carried on by "leadies," robots manufactured to be soldiers. With spreading radiation, millions of earthlings are moved underground into what are unflatteringly known as Ant Tanks. Now safe from the radiation and destruction, the tankers’ sole function is to manufacture an unending supply of leadies for the war effort.

Several decades pass, the war goes on, and tankers receive nightly news reports of just how bad the situation continues to be. There is just one catch. A treaty ended the war years ago. As radiation hot zones continue to decrease, the ruling elite that has remained topside has decided that life without hundreds of millions of the common sort is not so bad. Let them stay in their ant tanks, producing leadies that go not into the war effort but become the worker bees for that 1% that now live in lavish mansions on thousand acre demesnes. The only real work done by humans is the effort to maintain the illusion that life topside is hell and that the tankers are best off where they are.

But the strains are beginning to show. Radiation has sterilized most of the human race, and the advertising men, government officials, and police agencies that rule the globe are paranoid, bored, and slipping into senility. Down below, tankers realize that certain things just don’t add up. When the chief engineer of the Tom Mix Tank dies of pancreatic cancer, his tank colony is terrified that they will not be able to meet their leadie production quotas. The engineer is flash frozen and the president of the group is sent tunneling to the surface, despite all the dangers, in search of an artiforg pancreas that will save the day.

The Penultimate Truth is one of PKD’s more tightly constructed and coherent narratives. There are plots and counterplots and mysteries; and the characters have coherent motivations. Perhaps readers will miss the wild ride of something like The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch but coming after the grab bag of The Simulacra and the perverse incoherence of Lie’s, Inc. I found it a satisfying read. There is a lot of talk as characters explain the situation to one another, and tortuous internal monologues are not uncommon. But this keeps the novel to the 200 page sweet spot and what action set pieces take place are well told. An assassination scene is one of PKD’s most creepily effective episodes. You may want to toss any old portable TV sets you still have lying around after you read it.

One highlight of twisted thinking among the elite topsiders is that if the hoi polloi come streaming back to the surface, another war will be inevitable. Since when did commoners start wars? I think they are mistaking war for some serious ass kicking. If I remember my history correctly, wars are started by those very people who are running PKD’s future earth like a well-oiled but fatally flawed machine.