And also like VALIS, the pink ray transmissions are back as well as PKDs fascinating, hypnotic use of the unreliable narrator.
Real Rating: 3.5* of five What a damned miracle it is to find this book again. But damn, it's really really really scary how the imaginarium in his head led PKD to predict our present.
"This, I realized, is how a man becomes what he is not: by doing what he could never do" - Philip K Dick, Radio Free Albemuth My brother and I were discussing how PKD would absolutely lose his shit to see how much the world has become what he wrote. For me this book was a bit of post-Trump-election therapy. Even the relationship between the election of Ferris Fremont and the Russians seemed a bit too close to reality: "Why should disparate groups such as the Soviet Union and the U.S. intelligence community back the same man?
For me this book and his later complete rewrite VALIS (1981) provide a window into PKDs mind that no other books can (other than the massive and unreadable Exegesis of Philip K Dick), and is a moving and profound experience if you go along with it. Part one is narrated by none other than Philip K Dick, a struggling science fiction writer and friend of Nicholas Brady, a Berkeley dropout who works at local record store. At first he is not sure what is happening, but gradually he understands that VALIS is a super rational alien collective mind that has chosen him (and a select few others) for a mission to overthrow the fascist dictatorship of President Freemont. Eventually VALIS grants visions to Nick that he should move to LA and become a record producer for folk musicians. Nick and Sylvia think they have successfully produced the song that will launch their revolution, but the FAPers (Friends of the American People) have actually been spying on them the entire time, and seize both of them along with PKD and throw them into a secret confinement facility outside the justice system. Whether or not you buy into any of PKDs paranoid fantasies or strange religious experiences, its undeniable that he wrote this book with searing honesty, pathos for the struggles of his characters (himself, really), and out of a genuine desire to understand what exactly was happening to him with all these visions and hallucinations. Perhaps the most fascinating part of this book and its successor VALIS is that PKD separates himself into two characters, Nicholas Brady and PKD in Radio Free Albemuth, and Horselover Fat and PKD in VALIS. This essentially allows him to have an extended dialog with himself, as the Nick and Horselover characters undergo the strange visions and hallucinations, while the PKD characters are separate from this and serve as devils advocate. Film Version (2010): I was surprised to discover a film version of Radio Free Albemuth had been made as a low budget indie production back in 2010 starring Jonanath Scarfe as Nicholas Brady, Katheryn Winnick as his wife Rachel, Shea Whigham as Philip K Dick, and Alanis Morisette as Slyvia Aramchek. So I dont blame the filmmakers, but I think this would be impossible to watch except for die-hard PKD fans like myself whove read the book already.
Technically, Radio Free Albemuth was PKD's last published novel. Dick himself, and not-Philip K.
Get this: In Radio Free Albemuth (the sort of 4th book post-script of the VALIS trilogy), there is a dystopian present in which the president is below average right-wing idiot who has used the lowest common denominator of paranoia to claw his way to the top. The politics of Radio Free Albemuth are all over the place, in excellent P.K. Dick schizo fashion, with satires of Berkeley radicals. I happen prefer the first half of the book, which is pseudo-autobiographical in which Phil narrates and talks about his crazed friend Nick.
BUT NOT NEARLY AS DELUSIONAL AS HARLAN ELLISON WHEN HE WROTE IN DANGEROUS VISIONS THAT ONE TIME ABOUT HOW PKD WROTE HIS BOOKS WHILE TRIPPING ON DRUGS.
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.