Set in 2041. I never realized, before I started reading a lot of PKD books back to back to back, how fascinated he is with Nazis and World War II Germany. Three of the last five books I read (this one, The Penultimate Truth and Lies, Inc) dealt with Nazi Germany in some way.
Dick threw nearly everything he could think of into this one. The main storyline has an concept similar to The Penultimate Truth involving a simulacrum of the President, although the rest is stuffed with multiple subplots that include psionics, Neanderthals and an attempt to cure Hitler by sending a psychoanalyst back in time.
This novel has a million characters to keep track of, but the anxiety-causing commercials that buzz around like flies, used-car salesman who sell jalopies that travel to Mars and primitive alien life forms used on Earth as components in recording devices are all great.
The conclusion focuses on the least interesting subplot as a group of Neanderthals called chuppers from some different branch of the evolutionary tree gather around a television and watch as Homo sapiens destroy themselves in a war. The few Homo sapiens in the room with them have the grim realization this is the moment the chuppers have been waiting for. Just short of a classic as it doesn’t all come together in the end.
Cast of characters
- Richard Kongrosian – a Soviet pianist who plays Brahms and Schumann with his mind
- Dr. Egon Superb – a psychoanalyst
- Bertold Goltz – head of the Neo-nazi group Sons of Job
- Wilder Pembroke – commissioner of the National Police
- Rudolf Kalbfleisch – the current der Alte. A simulacrum
- Nicole Thibodeaux– the First Lady. Has a stature greater than the president in their matriarchal society
- Emil Stark – Prime Minister of Israel
- Janet Raimer – Chief White House talent scout
- Garth McRae – Assistant State Secretary
- Harold Slezak – White House A & R secretary
- Hermann Göring – founder of the Gestapo, commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe and Hitler’s successor in World War II
- Vince Strikerock – works for Karp u. Sohnen
- Chic Strikerock – brother of Vince. Works for Frauenzimmer Associates.
- Julia Applequist– ex-wife of Vince Strikerock
- Maury Frauenzimmer – Chic’s boss. Owner of Frauenzimmer Associates
- Felix and Anton Karp – father and son owners of Karp u. Sohnen
- Ian Duncan – aimless member of the Abraham Lincoln apartment building
- Al Miller – Ian Duncan’s former friend and jug band partner. Works for Loony Luke’s jalopy business
- Patrick Doyle – skypilot for the Abraham Lincoln apartments
- Edgar Stone – scheming member of the Abraham Lincoln apartment building
- Nat Flieger – works at Electronic Musical Enterprise
- Jim Planck – employee of EME
- Leo Dondoldo – owner of EME
- Molly Dondoldo – Leo’s daughter
Other things to know
- USEA – United States of Europe and America
- McPhearson Act – outlaws the practice of psychoanalysis in favor of drug therapy
- der Alte – German for “the old man.” The president. Has been a simulacrum for the last fifty years
- Karp und Sohnen Werke – German for Karp and Sons. Built the Kalbfleisch simulacrum
- the Ges – Geheimnisträger. The upper social class. Possessors of the secret that der Alte is a simulacrum
- the Bes – Befehlträger. The lower social class
- Frauenzimmer Associates – simulacra construction company
- von Lessinger equipment – used for time travel