Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick (Audio Book)

Twenty-five years before we had William Gibson and “cyberpunk,” we had Philip K. Dick, and if nothing else, this work proves that he was way ahead of his time and that his successors in the genre have done little to build upon his ideas or surpass his vision. In Flow My Tears, we are shown a near-future society transformed to a neo-fascistic police state. Jason Taverner, a pop superstar, finds himself one day without an identity: his friends and lovers don’t recognize or remember him and his music and TV shows are unknown. Most significantly, perhaps, he does not have the precious ID cards without which he cannot safely travel more than a few blocks without being waylaid by police and sent into a forced labor camp. Taverner must contend with a rogue’s gallery of bizarre and memorable characters to discover how his identity was lost and attempt to recover it. Sometimes Dick’s writing is clunky – it is as if ten words at random were removed from the paragraph, and the reader is left slightly uneasy, but this may contribute to the book’s strong mood of paranoia. A touch of psychedelia a la Burroughs compounds this effect. Luckily for the reader, unlike in many of Burroughs’s works, there actually is a story here. And the characterizations are excellent. Unfortunately, however, somewhere towards the ending, Dick breaks down. The book ends quickly and crudely, like a field amputation given by a half-trained medic in the middle of a battle. In addition, there are allusions to Jung, Renaissance poetry, and several other thinkers or artistic movements which obviously influenced Dick, but I feel that he could have done more to develop these references and themes. All in all, though it is a prescient and moving work and one that should be enjoyable to any science-fiction fans.

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