Wednesday, 3 December 2008

SF Masterworks # 13 Martian Time-Slip

It's been a long time since I've read this so to attempt a review would be perhaps a little foolish, buy I've never made it my aim to be a reviewer on this site, but to write about things I enjoy and to share them with you all. One of the things I do enjoy is reading classic Sci-Fi and in particular Philip K Dick, whose gigantic presence in the Masterworks list marks him out much better than my vast appreciation could. Anyway, I do think you are entitled to a review of sorts, and so I'm going to be cheeky and borrow one from who have an excellent database of the masterworks series - hope you don't mind guys (I also pinched the image from there!)

"First published in 1964, this is recognized as one of Dick's better novels. Although he was certainly a man of vision with consistently brilliant ideas, his writing style is not at all consistent. Sometimes, it seems to me that Dick's writing reads like a translation from another language. Perhaps this aspect contributes to some of the humour in this novel, for it has some very funny moments.

Jack Bohlen is a repairman on a desolate, dry Mars, inhabited by poor colonists and the remnants of the poorer native population, the Bleekmen. Jack's bored wife is addicted to barbiturates. His father is a ruthless land speculator. His neighbour's young son, Manfred, is an autistic with untapped paranormal abilities. His new boss, Arnie Kott, has a virtual monopoly on the available water on Mars. Arnie wants Jack to devise a contraption to communicate with Manfred in order to capitalize on the boy's theoretical ability to glimpse the future.

It's an odd setup, but the payoff is stunning. The same scene in Arnie Kott's dwelling, the same moment in time, is played over and over again, each time shown from a slightly different perspective. Which interpretation of reality is really real? Are any of them? It's a chilling, haunting, beautiful piece of writing." - by Neil Walsh

A lot of the detail is foggy in my mind, but it was still an excellent read, bringing classic PKD themes such as colonisation and precognition, but giving them a fresh and original context. The Martian setting was entirely believable and I can still catch glimpses of the more memorable scenes in my head as I write this. The autism angle made it particularly interesting for me, but what really captivated me was how engrossing and believable the world and characters were - which is also a typical PKD trait. It is typically mind bending and yet easy to follow and while it isn't my favourite of the authour's works it isn't because it's bad, it's simply that some of his books manage to be even better than this one - quite an achievment considering this is a "Masterwork"

I can highly recommend this one to you, and I'll try and keep up with these posts and I'll do another book soon and...guess what? It's another Philip K Dick!!

OK, that probably says just as much about my reading...but we'll ignore that eh?

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