Top critical review
A Poor Imitation of a Philip K. Dick Novel
Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2009
Philip K. Dick is my favorite science fiction author, a writer who transcends that label. I have read all of his short stories and 15 of his novels. As an author, he was unafraid to go where others wouldn't, to use his own illnesses and foibles as the basis for many of his works. I even introduced my schizophrenic nephews to his work as a form of therapy, which they greatly enjoyed. That was before I read The Simulacra. Although I enjoyed some of this book, it has so many loose threads I could weave a blanket. Characters are introduced and we follow them to a certain point and then they simply disappear. Much is made of the time travel device but it is merely used as a simplistic plot gimmick. And why all the fuss over bringing back Herman Goerring just to shoot him because he wasn't Hitler? My biggest objection is that Nicole is portrayed as the leader of the USEA but it turns out that she is just a puppet of a ruling board of governors - so how does she have any real power to do some of the things she does before this piece of trivia is revealed to us? The "plot" is all over the place, and the final chapter in Jenner, introducing yet another blind alley with the Chuppers, just doesn't fit in with anything before it. I honestly feel that there are at least three different novels going on here and if any of them had been fully developed they would be much better than this hybrid. Even the title is misleading because this work has little to do with the simulacra that is the actual President or the simulacra that are manufactured for Mars. Although it is a weak entry in my Philip K. Dick collection, it still has his great dialog, offbeat characters, and humorous asides. It's not a bad book, it just isn't up to his usual standard. When it comes down to it, however, the money would be better spent on Flow My Tears The Policeman Said or The Man In The High Castle for works that handle similar themes with greater artistry.