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The Penultimate Truth Kindle Edition
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About the Author
“The finest American novelist of our time.” –Hartford Advocate
“Dick was…one of the genuine visionaries that North American fiction has produced in this century.”–Steve Erickson, L.A. Weekly
“If there’s such a thing as a ‘black science fiction,’ Philip K. Dick is its Pirandello, its Beckett and its Pinter.” –Harlan Ellison --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B005MZN172
- Publisher : Mariner Books; Reissue edition (January 24, 2012)
- Publication date : January 24, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 1079 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 259 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #235,447 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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In the future world of this book, much of humanity lives in massive underground bunkers, nicknamed anthills, in which they build weapons and medical devices for the nuclear war they believe is ravaging the surface of the Earth. When Nick St. James, the president of one anthill, makes his way to the surface, St. James discovers his people have been lied to. The world on the surface has survived nuclear devastation and has emerged into a unique and odd civilization. Needless to say, the revelation of the relatively peaceful world surface changes nearly everything.
What makes this novel so special, though, is that those revelations don’t change the way St. James views his world. He doesn’t become a noble crusader for truth or a vengeful destroyer of the new civilization. Instead our protagonist goes the opposite way of most heroic leads. Instead of rebelling, he goes out of his way to allow the world to stay in its current state. He will not let the truth of his world change life in the anthill. The penultimate truth of the story is the truth behind the nuclear war. But the ultimate truth is more powerful: it is the special bond society creates, the relationships created and enduring for decades, and the lies and half-truths that are necessary to perpetuate that society.
This description makes The Penultimate Truth sound heady and brainy, and it is filled with a intriguing level of intelligence and wisdom about human nature. But it is also has the several elements we have come to expect from Dick’s finest work.
First and foremost, this is an exciting story, with scenes of high adventure, escapes and shootouts which keep the reader turning the page. There are mysteries piled upon mysteries, characters who shift and change as the story proceeds only to have them revealed in ways for which the reader was foreshadowed but for which he likely could not have anticipated.
Secondly, this is a wise and fascinating study of human nature. The Penultimate Truth is about jealousy and lust for power balanced with trust and love for family and friends. It sets stability and chaos in opposite sides of the metaphorical coin in ways few other novels of any type have explored, and in doing so shows the power of novelistic science fiction in the hands of a master of the medium.
Thirdly, this book seems to explode with ideas, from the anthills (an idea Dick explored in some of his short fiction such as “Second Variety”) to the vast demesnes in which the surface dwellers live, to the vast conspiracies used to keep ordinary people following their leaders. That last element is strikingly prescient in our current political landscape.
And the last element I’ve come to love in Dick’s work comes from the very end of the book. In my mind there are two endings to this novel, and in fact I won’t reveal them here so you can experience them yourself. But I’m curious how many readers wish The Penultimate Truth had ended with the deeply ironic penultimate chapter as its conclusion as opposed to those who preferred the redemptive final chapter.
Throw in some gorgeously descriptive language and you have one of Dick's finest novels.
Some of Dick’s books I just straight up have trouble understanding. He’s usually good about the fake technology terms, their context explains enough. But with this one I’m just lost most of the time. The plot could be a lot simpler but is instead muddied by words that are supposed to make sense but don’t.
I do think if I read it again I’d get more out of it. Lots of names, places, people against each other. It’s hard to keep track initially.
Ultimately tho, what an original idea (as far as I know.) Its nice when his books are grounded on earth and tell of an alternate future as opposed to some space ship something or other. This one would make an excellent series, the visuals would be awesome. So perhaps once again he’s just ahead of his time. But as a book written when so much technology was so young, it’s a tough one. There are many more books to read of his instead.
I enjoyed the story, the twists and unexpected turns and the world builds. Films play a part in the creation of this alternative earth and their dissection is well played. Well worth adding to your reading queue.
Top reviews from other countries
The chief mechanic of one of these tanks is seriously ill, so the president of the tank is forced to go to the surface and find an artificial pancreas. The tankers are under the illusion that the war is still going on, and that the surface is uninhabitable, with mechanical warriors and various plagues being the major threats. However, the president finds that this is not the case and that the war ended 13 years ago.
Simultanously, we follow the story of one of the ruling elite who live in luxury on the surface. He helps to write speeches for faked news reports that are delivered to the tankers in order to keep them under control and under the ground.
The story then progesses into a kind of detective story with this backdrop. There is a series of crosses and double crosses and plot twists that we follow in order to discover the ultimate fate of the tankers and the ruling class. This isn't a typical post-apocalyptic novel, but if you like that sort of thing, I would definitely recommend it. Many of the questions raised are resolved, but the only down side is a slightly ambiguous ending that I won't discuss as it will spoil the story.
Also, quick and clean writing with an even conclusion. Sometimes PKD's conclusions seem to meander, prob as his speed wore off, but not here.
Not his best, that is UBIK for me, but very good.
If you like this, try The Man in the High Castle. It's even better...