Ben Smithgall

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Bit pusher at Spotify. Previously Interactive News at the New York Times, U.S. Digital Service, and Code for America.






By Philip K. Dick

Finished reading on July 10, 2019

A bizarre meditation on mortality and decay. Once of the most interesting things about Dick’s works are the objects that casually populate the world. In Ubik, we have a group of seemingly self-aware objects that exist only to suck money out of their operators: the coin-operated front door to Joe Chip’s apartment is so strong in this regard that it manages to outlast Chip himself. While the rest of the world fades back into the past of the 1930s, the door stands strong, demanding a nickel for each entry.

Like many of Dick’s books, the product itself is a complete mixed bag of genius and incomprehensibility and the writing flows between these two bits. Dick is best appreciated by reading a lot of his giant canon and looking for the big ideas instead of getting lost if the minutiae of individual stories.