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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said Hardcover – January 1, 1974
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- Publisher : Doubleday & Company; First Edition (January 1, 1974)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0575018801
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575018808
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Best Sellers Rank: #7,260,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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In the corner, Philip K. Dick says quietly, "What if your wrong?"
"Yes!" snaps the ghost of George Orwell. "It will all be so terrible."
Philip K. Dick shrugs the shoulders of his untucked polo shirt. "I don't think that's it."
"Tell us, then." Asimov sneers.
"It might just be mundane." Dick says, "It might just be the same terrible and wonderful things we have now."
No one says anything. When they go home Clarke cries in his sleep. Heinlein can't sleep, because he has thought himself a writer, and now he sees through things. Philip Kindred Dick has predicted the future, and no one will thank him for it, because the future does not exist.
"Flow my Tears" was written in 1974 so it's obviously set in a parallel universe, especially since genetically enhanced people known as "sixes" were being born as early as 1946. The hero of the novel is the host of a music and variety program on NBC named Jason Taverner and a six. He starts out fairly unsympathetic and the novel would be a lot shorter if he didn't start his odyssey as a nonperson with five thousand dollars in cash. The general in charge of the Los Angeles police, Felix Buckman, is in some ways more sympathetic and in other ways less.
"Flow my Tears" has all the tropes of 1970s science fiction -- flying cars, videophones -- but like everyone else Dick failed to predict the cell phone. His 1988 is a curious hybrid between what had already happened in his world (a pedophile has a carpet showing Richard Nixon ascending to heaven) and things that didn't have time to happen like colonies on Mars.
One of the best features of "Flow my Tears" is the supporting cast, the non-viewpoint characters, from Taverner's lovers to Buckman's sister to a pottery maker who reveals toward the end that Taverner has crossed back into a universe where he exists. What would really be interesting would be if Taverner or Buckman were to find themselves in the 1988 that really DID exist, but here Dick's powers of prediction fail utterly. Still, I cannot bring myself to deduct a star from this book and therefore give it five. It is the third, and best I have read by Dick.
The biggest critique I have is that the choices and behavior of some of the characters seems so erratic at times that it disrupts the flow. The strange cat-and-mouse game between the protagonist and the police kept my attention but the constant intro and outro of one psychotic, tragic, or dislikable character after another didn't really seem to help the plot along that much. But again, that's not unusual for PKD.
Despite its issues, it somehow all works, and makes the time spent reading it rewarding in its own way. Dick has always been able to work magic and turn what would otherwise be odd bits and pieces of philosophy, futurism, and social commentary into something entertaining and thought-provoking. The bottom line is that if you like the PKD style, you'll enjoy Flow My Tears.
Top reviews from other countries
the arrogance and comeuppance of the louche tv chat show/singer, the alt.sex of the policeman's sister/wife, the sadness of everyday people, all fantastically envisioned, bought to life and dissected. a thing of considerable beauty, which should be treasured, like the potter's work (no spoilers - read the book for why)!
This review is not a reflection of the book !
-- from the backcover
Another fine work by Philip K Dick (1928-1982), exploring the themes of 'what is real?' and 'what is it to be human?'.
Flow My Tears The Policeman Said was a Nebula Award nominee in 1974; a John W. Campbell Award winner in 1975; a Hugo Award nominee in 1975 and a Locus Award nominee, again in 1975.
`The most consistently brilliant SF writer in the world'
`Dick quietly produced serious fiction in a popular form and there can be no greater praise'
`One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Philip K. Dick made most of the European avant-guarde seem navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac'
`He was the funniest SF writer of his time, and perhaps the most terrifying'
--Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
If you are new to Philip K Dick's work I would also recommend the following novels (which generally seem to be regarded as among his best):
The Man In The High Castle (S.F. Masterworks)
Ubik (S.F. Masterworks)
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (S.F. Masterworks)
The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (S.F. Masterworks)
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said (S.F. Masterworks)
That said, though some of PKD's works are better than others, to my mind they are all well worth reading. I would also recommend his short story collections:
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Short Stories
Second Variety: Volume Two Of The Collected Short Stories
The Father-Thing: Volume Three Of The Collected Short Stories
Minority Report: Volume Four Of The Collected Short Stories
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: Volume Five of The Collected Short Stories