Valis by Philip K. Dick

This was the most challenging PKD books I’ve ever read. It is also one of the most unique and interesting. For half the novel I didn’t exactly know what was happening but things got a bit clearer near the end. I am sitting here thinking of what happened in the book and am still a bit confused.

It is quite a mind-bending novel.

This is about Horselove Fat and his life. His challenges from the mental hospital, divorces, seeing God (?). Trying to figure out what or who VALIS is? Who is the true God? I’m getting all mixed up thinking about this again. I don’t often re-read novels but I think I will make a note to read this again in 5 years.

Do not try to put down this book in the middle of a chapter. It will be very difficult to follow the story. It’s weird, and about God, time, aliens, and one deranged man.

Would I recommend this? I’m not sure. I could only recommend this to a big PKD fan that also is looking for something different then the ’normal’ sci-fi PKD has written. This book is way, way out there.

Looking at Wikipedia it seems that a lot of the strangeness of this novel is inspired by the author’s real-life experience.

Dick recounted that as the sun glinted off the gold pendant, the reflection caused the generation of a “pink beam” of light that mesmerized him. He came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance, and also believed it to be intelligent. On one occasion, he was startled by a separate recurrence of the pink beam, which imparted the information that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital, where the illness was confirmed by professional diagnosis.[38][verification needed]

After the woman’s departure, Dick began experiencing strange hallucinations. Although initially attributing them to side effects from medication, he considered this explanation implausible after weeks of continued hallucination. He told Charles Platt:

“I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane."[39]

Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of hallucinations which he referred to as “2-3-74”,[25] shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the “pink beam”, he described the initial hallucinations as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the hallucinations increased in duration and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live two parallel lives—one as himself, “Philip K. Dick”, and one as “Thomas”,[40] a Christian persecuted by Romans in the first century AD. He referred to the “transcendentally rational mind” as “Zebra”, “God” and “VALIS” (an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System). He wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth, then in VALIS, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer and the unfinished The Owl in Daylight (the VALIS trilogy).[citation needed]

After reading this Wikipedia page, I’m even more confused about this book. I’m not sure if I feel this work is more incredible, or just his hallucinations packaged up in a nice book format. Wow.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #12 in my 2023 Reading Challenge

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