Dr. Futurity published 1960

Dr. Futurity (not to be confused with the much better Dr. Bloodmoney) tells the story of Dr. Jim Parsons who is snatched away from 2012 and brought to the year 2405. The world of the future has no need for doctors as they have embraced death and eugenics. Their society is organized into tribes represented by animal totems. These tribes compete in contests to determine future generations as the winning tribes are able to contribute a greater number of zygotes to the Soul Cube. I feel stupid writing this down.

Dr. Futurity
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The Wolf Tribe has access to a time travel device, and they need the medical know-how of Parsons to save the life of Corith who was shot by an arrow in 1579 during a botched attempt to travel back in time to kill Sir Francis Drake. His plan was to erase the next 500 years of white supremacy by preventing England from taking North America from the Native Americans. Anyway… at least he wasn’t trying to stop Hitler.

The whole thing is full of plot holes, time travel and otherwise. Dick tries to explain away some of these issues, but the poorly-written story remains muddled and not very interesting.

Cast of characters

  • Dr. Jim Parsons – our protagonist
  • Wade and Icara – members of an illegal political group advocating women’s rights
  • Al Stenog – the Director of the Fountain
  • Loris – Mother superior of the Wolf Tribe
  • Helmar – Loris’s brother
  • Corith – Loris’s father. He travels back to 1579 in an attempt to kill Sir Francis Drake.
  • Jepthe – Loris’s mother
  • Nixina – mother of Jepthe and Corith

Other things to know

  • Shupos – delinquent children who work as government enforcers
  • Soul Cube – contains all the zygotes of the human race
  • The Fountain – government building where the Soul Cube is kept
  • Nova Albion – Northern California landing spot of Sir Francis Drake in 1579

Rating:

Related:

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer published 1982

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer is the last book Dick wrote, published just after he died in 1982. I thought it was terrific, although I’m someone who enjoys the exploration of theology that makes up most of the plot.

 The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
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Our narrator, a woman named Angel Archer, tells about her father-in-law Bishop Tim Archer who has a crisis of faith after the discovery of an ancient document casts a doubt on Jesus’s divinity. It opens on the day of John Lennon’s murder in 1980, but the majority of the story is flashbacks. 

This one is considered one of Dick’s “mainstream” novels, and I wish he had been given a chance to write more books like this. It’s funny and smart and grounded in the real world of Berkeley, California.

Cast of characters

  • Timothy Archer – Episcopalian Bishop of California
  • Jeff Archer – Timothy’s son
  • Angel Archer – our narrator. Jeff’s wife and Timothy’s daughter-in-law
  • Kristen Lundborg – Angel’s best friend and Timothy’s mistress
  • Bill Lundborg – Kristen’s schizophrenic son
  • Edgar Barefoot – hosts a radio show about mysticism on KPFA in Berkeley
  • Fred Hill – owner of the Bad Luck restaurant. Possible KGB agent
  • Dr. Rachel Garret – the elderly medium they use in an attempt to talk to Jeff from beyond the grave

Other things to know

  • The Zadokites – an obscure Jewish sect
  • The Zadokite documents – fictional documents that predate Jesus by 200 years.
    Supposedly they contain “Q” which is the basis for the synoptic gospels in the Bible. The Zadokite fragments, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls, are a real thing, but the rest was invented by Dick

I picked up this copy at the library. The author photo on the back, credited to Nicole Panter, shows Dick wearing a Rozz Tox t-shirt, a reference to Gary Panter’s Rozz Tox Manifesto that argues artists should embrace capitalism. Nicole Panter was the manager for The Germs, and Gary won three Emmys for his set designs for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Some Rozz Tox quotes:

  • Capitalism for good or ill is the river in which we sink or swim.
  • Waiting for art talent scouts? There are no art talent scouts. Face it, no one will seek you out. No one gives a shit.
  • Law: If you want better media, go make it.

The Cosmic Puppets published 1957

The Cosmic Puppets
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The setup of The Cosmic Puppets wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of The Twilight Zone. It’s set in 1953. Ted Barton returns to the small Virginia town where he grew up and finds that everything—the buildings, people and even his own past—has changed.

This one is short, coming in at under 150 pages. It has a great hook, although Dick never really explains what the showdown between the two cosmic entities of good and evil ultimately has to do with the sleepy town of Millgate.

Cast of characters

  • Ted Barton – our protagonist
  • Peggy Barton – Ted’s wife
  • Peter Trilling – the antagonist. A young boy from Millgate
  • Mary Meade – a young girl from Millgate
  • Mabel Trilling – Peter’s mother and owner of a Millgate boarding house
  • Dr. Ernest Meade – Mary’s father. Operates a private hospital in Millgate called Shady House
  • William Christopher – a town drunk and the first person Ted comes across who is aware of the change to Millgate

Other things to know

  • Ahriman – the destroyer
  • Ormazd – the builder. Better known in Zoroastrianism as Ahura Mazda

Rating:

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