Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. DickIn Radio Free Albemuth, Dick describes an alternate reality in which a man, Ferris Freemont, has manipulated events, including the murder of JFK and other politicians, in order to rise to power.  Once he attains the highest seat of power as the president, he rigs elections and starts a witch-hunt against a group called Aramcheck. 

I read this book because I discovered there was a movie made of it and who doesn’t like to read books and then watch the movie, whether bad or good, it’s fun.  But this was a difficult one.  I discovered for the 2nd time now that I am not a PKD type.  The first PKD I read was Clans of the Alphane Moon and it was actually pretty cool, but I remember deciding to myself that I’m not so sure about PKD, at least regarding future audiobook purchases.

Clans of the Alphane Moon is a fun light-hearted story and funny too.  I will never forget the buddy of the main character who is an alien blob named Lord Running Clans of the Alphane MoonClam…!!!!  I get a smile on my face just thinking about that.  Hard to imagine it was written in 1964.  It seemed rather timeless.  (Is that Lord Running Clam on the far right???)

On the other hand, Philip Dick writes himself into Radio Free Albemuth, like Stephen King does in The Dark Tower, and it’s not a cohesive storyline like in Clans.  It’s about a supernatural alien force, or collective, that communicates with Dick’s best friend and tries to overthrow the evil Ferris Freemont government.  To call it weird is an understatement.  The book is completely out of the box.

It actually starts out better than it ends.  At the beginning, the author (this is PKD speaking in first person here) and his best friend live in Berkeley.  He proceeds to take jabs at both liberals and conservatives, which is always a good idea and he does it well.

It’s hard to understand what I didn’t like about Dick’s writing but the closest I can come is that it has too many continually abstract passages.  Like when an author is going into a lot of detail about philosophy, or another plane of existence, or a trance-like imagining.  Too much abstract mumbo-jumbo, stuff that is probably important to the storyline, but that I can’t stomach.  I have to come back to a moment in time more often than this book allows.

And it’s entirely possible that I just don’t get it.  Like Douglas Adams, another funny sci-fi guy.  I read one or two but it’s not my thing.  Incredibly inventive authors though.

3 thoughts on “Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

  1. You did pick one of his most difficult later novels…

    I recommend Ubik and Martian Time-Slip before you give up on him. And his short fiction! The Preserving Machine is a wonderful collection of his early work.

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      1. I have read a good 25 + or so of his novels and perhaps 60 of his short stories — mostly before I started this site — else I’d have more review for you to browse.

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