By Philip K. Dick
Ubik is weird, a mind-bending game of ‘what is going on here?’ that I really enjoyed. It seems to take place in a similar world to Minority Report, with precogs and people who can read minds, but there are also inertials– people who can cancel out other people’s psychic abilities.
I don’t really want to write about the specifics, because they’re great and unusual and should be read. But to jog my memory for a later, a bunch of inertials from a prudence company are sent to the moon for a mission, which is actually a trap where a bomb goes off in an attempt to kill them. The rest of the book is them trying to figure out why the world is behaving so strangely.
What I really enjoyed about the book is twofold. The primary twist of ‘what is going on here?’ is considered early on but partially rejected and partially just not dealt with by the main characters. The fact that as a reader I could have said, ‘Oh yeah, duh, of course that’s what’s going in,’ but didn’t put me right in the shoes of the characters. At end, when the twist becomes clear, it becomes incredibly obvious. But only because you knew what was going on. This might seem obvious, but again I was in the same position as the characters, who also could not have known what was going on. Without giving it away, neither I nor the characters could have known, because neither of us knew enough about the world of the book. I liked this. Unlike a detective story, you can’t know the ending based on clues.
I will say though that the last chapter was unnecessary and I recommend ignoring it. I think Philip is just throwing us for a spin because he can. It didn’t seem to actually fit with the rest of the well-devised story.