A Scanner Darkly (Philip K. Dick)

Part genre work, part autobiographical drug novel, A Scanner Darkly rises above the ham-handed world building of Dick’s quick-buck potboilers. Bob Arctor, a stand-in for Dick, is an undercover narcotics agent and genuine drug addict who is losing control of his habit. The author riffs on some familiar themes—unreality, cognitive breakdown, capitalism as dehumanising force—but the writing is witty and precisely observed, with a lived quality Dick’s novels sometimes lack. As a result, A Scanner Darkly is perhaps the most effective statement of his concerns.


Written on September 4, 2013