Method of the world’s destruction: nuclear war
I am not a fan of PKD; I think those who follow my reviews probably know that by now. I don’t really get the hype. He’s a good writer, but I just can’t wrap my head around why everyone thinks he’s such a genius. It seems to me he takes ideas that have been done by other people (with a couple of exceptions) and re-writes them in a literary style.
Also, he clearly hates women, and that irks me. It’s not a standard of the time issue – as people who follow my reviews probably know by now as well, I note these problematic dated bigoted elements, but I don’t let that decide my opinion of a book. Nor do I assume the characters represent the views of the author, and this book was full of racism and ableism as well, which I’m not calling him on. It’s in the way he writes women. They’re all sluts, virgins or harridans.
But, despite all that, I really liked this book. For the PKD books in the SF Masterworks challenge, in general I’ve been trading them in when I’ve finished them because I know I won’t read them again. But I think I’m holding on to this one.
At first I thought this book was a 70s updated version of Alas, Babylon. The premise is very similar: a cast of quirky characters survives nuclear war, and then try to make their way in the blasted, irradiated world that is left. Like Alas, Babylon, its science is out-of-date, and that can be hard to wrap one’s head around for modern readers. I saw a strong satirical element as well, maybe like Dr. Strangelove or something Vonnegut, Kurt would write.
But I was wrong. This book started out as Alas, Babylon and ended up as More Than Human with some wacky surreal curlicues. I’m not going to say any more than that, because it would be a terrible spoiler to tell you, but it surprised me, and that was delightful. Also, there were places where I could not tell if what people thought was going on was their perspective, or what was actually happening. It was surreal and weird and beautifully done.
Unfortunately he also used an idea I had, which I didn’t know he’d done (rats!) so now I can’t use it, but this is definitely a unique take on the apocalypse, and despite its flaws (and yes, there are several) I would recommend it.