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A Scanner Darkly

March 15, 2017

by Phillip K. Dick


The first cover is an excellent example of the split of personality and character of a man names Robert Arctor. He is an undercover agent, trying to bring down a drug manufacturing operation. The second cover is a perfect example of what a ‘scanner’ suit would look like, in order to conceal the agent’s true identity.

Written in the ’60’s, PKD does an amazing job telling the troubling tale o the future. Set in 1994 (that’s pretty funny right? Or is it? With the heroin problem running rampant in our country, the scene is not difficult to imagine at times.)

Definitely a mature content book, the concepts alone are abstract at times and the events wherein divulge heavily on the dark inner circle of the ’60’s drug culture.

This book was made into a movie, which I saw first before reading the book, and that itself was very artistic and did a very comparable version of the books, leaving out only a few scenes overall.

The book is based on real events that PKD, in his own adventures, witnessed to some extent. In the following years of editing, the story itself emerged  perfectly into a paranoid thriller, where you aren’t sure who is who in reality.

Arctor is a head (hippie term) and also an undercover agent. More and more suspicious things begin to happen to him, a car malfunction that nearly kills him, pushing the paranoia farther as friends and roommates turn on each other. He is trying to buy larger and larger quantities of “substance death” or “D” for short, in order to find out who is behind the manufacturing of this highly addicting drug that basically melts part of the brain, separating the two halves. This causes great mental duress, although not necessarily known to the user.

Arctor, using larger quantities himself, can no longer remember both sides of himself. The twists and turns that follow are engaging and thought provoking.



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