Friday, March 14, 2014

One of Philip K Dick's strangest novels.

A Maze of Death

By Philip K. Dick

Rating: 4 & 1/2 out of 5 stars

A Maze of Death is one of Philip K. Dick's most aggravating books. It is almost unbearably dark and loaded with insensitive protagonists who often act like spoiled brats. And just as you think you figured it out, it becomes even more nihilistic and disorganized.

It is also one of Dick's best novels.

It starts out like a science fiction version of a horror novel where the characters are sure to get picked off. I kept thinking about Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None for it has a similar idea. A group of strangers end up on an island planet not knowing the reason they are there and are put in a situation that may mean death for some or all. But this is Philip K. Dick, so nothing is as it seems. In many ways this is a transitional work in which the author's Gnostic interests start to dominate his writings. In the book, Gods exist as a perceived reality, prayers are sent electronically and people live by their bible titled How I Rose From the Dead in My Spare Time and So can You. It is also one of Dicks' few works that explores the idea of death in detail. Freud's Death Instinct hovers throughout this nihilistic work. Yet I found this story totally engaging as it wobbles into the end where the strange and selfish reactions of our usually dislikeable characters actually make sense. This is clearly not the Dick novel to start with. But if you already read some quality works of his like Man in the High Castle and A Scanner Darkly you just may like where this morose novel takes you. I'm rating it four and a half stars only because I feel I have to compare it to Dick's masterpieces such as the two already mentioned. As I said, it is a transitional work.

1 comment:

  1. This was the first PKD novel I "blew me away";surrealism and a universe where "God" was a perceived! This was six years before I read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.....I still had little idea of what was to come.