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Posts for June 30, 2022

Ubik by Philip K Dick (Books 2022, 10)

I had associated this in my head with Dick’s VALIS, which is one of his latest works (written 1978, published 1981, according to Wikipedia). I think just because of the similarity of names.

Ubik is in fact more of a mid-period novel (written 1966, published 1969), and it shows. Though according to the Wikipedia entry, ‘it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 greatest novels since 1923.’ I find that a tad surprising, as it’s far from one of his better ones to my mind.

Certainly some of his tropes are there: strange warps to reality, confusion over who is and isn’t dead, that sort of thing. But it’s just not as compelling as, say, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, or A Scanner Darkly; nor as weird and fascinating as VALIS.

The characterisation is weak — which is probably true for most of Dick’s work, to be fair. But the story just doesn’t really get off the ground.

Software and Wetware by Rudy Rucker (Books 2022, 11 and 12)

Or the first two books in the Ware tetralogy, as they now are. I read Software many years ago, and enjoyed it, though not as much as some of Rucker’s others, notably White Light.

This time round it was fine, and so was the second one, but not really anything to write home about. I’ll read the other two, since I’ve got the combined edition on my Kindle, and they’re not very long. But there’s a spark that Rucker has when he writes about things like infinities, that just isn’t there when he writes about the themes here.

Which are artificial intelligence, machine sentience, and the possibility of transferring human consciousnesses into robot bodies and vice versa. Those are fascinating concepts, but the stories don’t quite jump off the page enough for me.