Monday, November 21, 2011


Shop Indie Bookstores

Solar Lottery, Philip K Dick, Ace Books, 1955, 200 pp

I have always steered clear of this author. Somehow I had gotten the impression that he was insane in some way or at least egregiously weird. But I read a review or two of the recently released The Exegesis of Philip K Dick, noting that Jonathan Lethem was one of the editors, and decided to give him a try. He wrote 44 novels! Solar Lottery is his first.

I did not get any impression of insanity or weirdness at all. He seemed to be fitting right in with the way science fiction was in the 1950s. In fact, I thought I got a glimpse of a theme that I found while reading The Hunger Games.

The ruler of the Universe in 2203 is chosen by random. Everything runs on games of chance which are wildly popular among the general populace. Workers have to sign up via fealty oaths to the various companies available. A huge proportion of people are just, as Margaret Atwood called them in Oryx and Crake, plebes: semi-homeless, unemployed folks who are cared for by social welfare programs. Honestly, I felt right at home.

The big surprise for me in the novel was the overall theme; that self determined individuals who can think for themselves have the power to bring things back to rights. Now that is a rather 1950s concept but it is also one of the major themes of literature all through the ages.

Hm. Maybe he got weird later? Who said he was weird anyway? I like this author. I added all 44 novels to My Big Fat Reading Project list. That will slow me down some but I look forward to a nice counterbalance to the increasing deterioration in the quality of the bestsellers in the coming decades of the project.

(Solar Lottery is available in paperback by order from Once Upon A Time Bookstore. Or click on the book cover image above to find it at the local bookstore closest to you.)

No comments:

Post a Comment