What is VALIS? This question is at the heart of Philip K. Dick's groundbreaking novel, the first book in his defining trilogy. When a beam of pink light begins giving a schizophrenic man named Horselover Fat (who just might also be known as Philip K. Dick) visions of an alternate Earth where the Roman Empire still reigns, he must decide whether he is crazy or whether a godlike entity is showing him the true nature of the world.
VALIS is essential listening for any true Philip K. Dick fan, a novel that Roberto Bolaño called "more disturbing than any novel by [Carson] McCullers." By the end, like Dick himself, you will be left wondering what is real, what is fiction, and just what the price is for divine inspiration.
©1981 Philip K. Dick (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
First I want to mention the excellent performance by Phil Gigante. His reading is pacy and expressive, really bringing the story to life.
The book itself is a deep, profound meditation on the nature of reality itself, on mental illness and theology. It incorporates elements of science fiction in an unusual way. The result is a book like no other I have ever read. Mind expanding, thought provoking, strange and wonderful.
This is exactly the kind of story I need to hear. If you are dealing with depression or you feel alone and confused about the Universe, I would highly recommend this book. It maybe baffling at times, but that just makes me feel more connected with the characters (especially Dick himself). It won't make you less crazy, but you might feel less alone. You may even find a spark of faith you never thought you had.
"Horselover Fat, Marin County, Is this even real?"
Yes. I enjoyed the book, but like before I will follow along in the text. I found it useful to make use of both formats.
Horselover Fat is a fantastic character for many reasons: 1. he transposes his visions/dreams to what could be alternative realities of real life on Earth, 2. he is basically Philip K. Dick so he is automatically amazing.
His voice with a hint of "southern-ness" when speaking for Horselover Fat aided to his characterization, particularly when trying to shape a character who is altogether somewhat unreliable and could be perceived as lacking in his mental faculties.
Is this even real?
Interesting idea but very hard to follow as an audio book. Hard to tell what was real and what was imaginary.
"Could even finish the audio book"
Confusing and boring story
I could not follow what was going on. Maybe I needed to get further in but most audio books capture my interest early on, this one did not
I can't say, as I didn't finish the story
"Not a great introduction to PKD."
Strange and different isn't always "profound." This one was tough to get through. Nothing was really enjoyable. The plot was basically spoiled in the description (thanks!) and it was downhill from there. I honestly can't believe there are sequels to this.
"I had a hard time finishing this book"
There were a few redeeming ideas in this book but you had to listen to a lot of craziness to get to it.
Creative and cleverly witty. An impressive mix of theology, gnosticism, psychology and humor. Expertly narrated.
"Briljant, original or ramblings"
Can't make up my mind on this one. So much philosophical rambling and semi religious stuff that I was waiting for it to end really badly. But it brilliantly weaves aliens with dreamworld with religion and science into one big hallucination that makes it really hard to pin down.
"Fantastic Reading of a Strangely Told, Odd Story"
The reader, who I previously enjoyed as the Stainless Steel Rat, outdoes himself in narrating this story. The multiple characters, in more way than one, pose an interesting challenge, and they were all rendered perfectly.
The story itself took some repetitions to even begin to make some sense, but it was enjoyable even when I didn't have the any idea of what was going on. This is a book that felt like a romp around in the fascinatingly strange mind of the author, with a strange feeling of autobiography by an unreliable narrator.
There is not likely another book like it, but it has positive similarities to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I quite enjoyed the philosophical ramblings as well.
"Not for the casual reader."
The book spends way too much time immersing the reader into an induced acid trip or insanity experience that is tiresome to slog through. As a huge fan of PKD, I soldiered on through the entire book to try to get a payoff but it left me thoroughly disappointed. It simply should not have taken so much time and so many repetitive stabs at impressing the reader as to the fog in Horselover Fat's brain.
The story line took much too long to develop into a cohesive narrative.
He did as good a job as anyone could have with the subject matter.
Much of the first half of the book was overdone. It could have been shortened significantly with less repetitive ravings.
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