Thursday, September 20, 2007

Galactic Pot Healer by Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick, the author whose books that have been turned to movies have become cult favoritesis one of the more forgotten science fiction authors. Movies such as "Bladerunner" (based on "Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep" and the movie "A Scanner Darkly" from the book of the same name. This book seems somewhat different than other Dick novels. "Galactic Pot Healer" still carries the anti-utopian future earth theme as do many of his books, with the government taking more control of its citizens. However, this book goes a bit further, in this book the reader is taken off Earth and introduced to some of the strange life-forms that exist in the universe.

Joe Fernright is a pot-healer, meaning that he can heal or mend ceramic pots. This is more of a hobby for him because his main job for the totalitarian Earth government consists of him sitting in a cubicle all day. Not really doing much of a job, he spends his time playing games with members of other countries in which they run titles of books through various language translation computers and have them translated back to English and try to decipher the original title.

At this time Fernright's services as a pot-healer are requested by what we find out to be a deity (of sorts) called Glimmung. It seems Glimmung is recruiting beings from all over the galaxy with various skills in order to raise an ancient cathedral from the ocean floor on Plowman's Planet. The other "recruits" are just as depressed and repressed as Joe Fernright.

The catch it seems is that the project is doomed to fail, even the attempt to raise the cathedral will result in death of all involved. At least this is what is believed by the Kalends, a species gifted with precognition who are constantly writing a book that supposedly foretells the future, one which inevitably is proven right. Glimmung is determined to continue with his struggle, even when the book predicts certain failure. This existential position allows Dick to explore the idea of fatalism. Glimmung is repeatedly compared to Faust, mainly in conversation amongst the protagonists.

With some really interesting fantastical characters and some fun Philip K. Dick wit and wordplay this book becomes really a fascinating read. From the sci-fi view it is full of great characters and from a philosophical view it combines a quixotic adventure, some psychological horror, and deliriously paranoid theology.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in the middle of reading it, unfortunately in Dutch though, which should cramp some of the language jokes.