In a post-WWIII world, a matriarch maintains rule against a popular uprising in this sci-fi classic by the author of The Man in the High Castle.
On a ravaged Earth, fate and circumstances bring together a disparate group of characters, including an android president, a First Lady who calls all the shots, fascist with dreams of a coup, a composer who plays his instrument with his mind, and the world’s last practicing therapist. And they all must contend with an underclass that is beginning to ask a few too many questions, aided by a man called Loony Luke and his very persuasive pet alien.
Set in the mid 21st century and first published in 1964, The Simulacra combines time travel, psychotherapy, telekinesis, androids, and Neanderthal-like mutants to create a rousing, mind-bending story where there are conspiracies within conspiracies and nothing is ever what it seems.
Dated but Compelling
What initially reads as a dated science-fiction story takes on new life after the year that has been 2020. The 2020 election and four years of Trumpism ominously mirror the narrative in The Simulacra. What initially turns me off to this work are the really dated misogynistic and prejudicial language. I also wish he had not coupled the story so firmly with specific dates and timelines. Those aspects make the reading of it now, a sometimes cringy process.
However, themes such as Nazism, Faciscm, Globalization, and Fake News link a 1964 story to present debates. Science-fiction has always intrigued me because of the projections its authors make about our future based on historical and contemporary events. Philip. Dick demonstrates precognition himself when you look at the 2020 political landscape and the themes this story projected.
Also rewarding are the references that tie this story to other Philip K. Dick books; such as Total Recall and Minority Report. Philip K. Dick was truly a visionary writer and when discounting the customs for the period in which he wrote, the books have an ever present warning about them. This one in particular. Though, I advise that you read “Simulacra and Simulation” by Baudrillard before reading this.