Theme: After Nuclear War

The Game-Players of Titan published 1963

The Game-Players of Titan
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Dick wrote a string of entertaining books in the 60s after winning the Hugo Award for The Man in the High Castle in 1963.

In The Game Players of Titan radiation from a nuclear war has wiped out much of Earth’s population. The remaining people, most of whom are unable to reproduce, gather together to play a Monopoly-like game where they win controlling deeds to American cities and pair off with spouses with the hope of finding the ‘luck’ to conceive children.

A race of aliens from the Saturn moon Titan has colonized Earth, but these telepathic vugs have problems of their own as a faction of moderates feuds with extremists with psionic powers who have infiltrated Earth disguised as humans. Pete Garden stumbles upon this secret one night during a drug-fueled bender celebrating the luck he found with his new wife. This leads to a showdown on Titan with the game-players of Earth and the vugs who play their own version of the game.

I have to make a note about the Rushmore Effect, because I love it. It’s a kind of limited A.I. given to all inanimate objects. Tea kettles and ice machines say ‘thank you’ and cars and elevators have polite and objective conversations with people, all except for Joe Schilling’s car which is cantankerous and seems to hate him.

Cast of characters

  • Pete Garden – our protagonist. Member of Pretty Blue Fox and former Bindman of Berkeley, California
  • Freya – Pete’s former wife and member of Pretty Blue Fox
  • Jack Blau, Clem Gaines, Bill Calumine, Silvanus Angst, Stuart Marks– Bindmen who play with Pretty Blue Fox
  • Jerome Luckman – Bindman of New York who purchases the title to Berkeley
  • Walt Remington – Pretty Blue Fox member responsible for the Berkeley title ending up with Luckman
  • Dotty Luckman – Luckman’s wife
  • Joe Schilling – record store owner and former Bindman of New York. Lost to Luckman. Joseph Schilling is also the name of the record store owner in Mary and the Giant
  • Dave Mutreaux – Luckman’s precog
  • Sid Mosk – Luckman’s secretary
  • Patricia McClain – former B barred from the game because she’s a telepath. Pete’s neighbor in San Rafael
  • Allan McClain – Pat McClain’s husband
  • Mary Anne McClain – Patricia’s 18-year-old daughter with powerful psionic powers. Her name was repurposed from Mary and the Giant (unpublished when this book came out) along with Joe Schilling
  • Nats Katz – popular tv recording artist
  • U.S. Cummings – the vug District Commissioner
  • Carol Holt – Pete’s new wife
  • E.B. Black – the vug police officer investigating Luckman’s death
  • Wade Hawthorne – the Terran police officer investigating Luckman’s death
  • Laird Sharp – Pete’s attorney
  • E.R. Philipson – a psychiatrist
  • Rothman – leader of the group of psis

Rating:

Related:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? published 1968

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the first Philip K. Dick book I read and a great introduction to his work. If you’ve seen Blade Runner then you are familiar with the plot: the bounty hunter Rick Deckard must retire the Nexus-6 androids (the most advanced models yet!) who have escaped from Mars and returned to Earth.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
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The most notable missing storyline in the movie adaptation has to do with the animals. Due to nuclear fallout after a world war living animals are incredibly rare. They are seen as status symbols and their cost is recorded in a constantly-referenced catalog called Sydney’s Animal & Fowl. This aspect of the book isn’t even really a subplot but more like the main plot line, since Deckard is hunting the androids for the bounty so he can buy a living animal to replace the electric sheep he has at the beginning of the story.

Otherwise Blade Runner is more or less faithful to the novel with some things necessarily streamlined. The terms “blade runner” and “replicant” are unique to the movie, and the ambiguity at the end about whether Deckard is human or not was invented by Ridley Scott and the screenwriters.

Dick declined to write a novelization of Blade Runner which would have netted him something like $400,000. Instead he got $12,500 for rereleasing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? under the Blade Runner name and artwork while he completed The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. I imagine anyone expecting the grittiness of the movie probably didn’t know what to make of the Penfield Mood Organ in the first chapter, one of the funniest parts of the book.

Cast of characters

  • Rick Deckard – our protagonist
  • Iran Deckard – Rick’s wife
  • John Isidore – a “special” damaged by the nuclear fallout. Jack Isidore is the name of the protagonist in Confessions of a Crap Artist
  • Wilbur Mercer – figurehead of the Mercerism religion that preaches empathy
  • Buster Friendly – host of a tv and radio show called ‘Buster Friendly and His Friendly Friends’
  • Harry Bryant – SF police inspector
  • Eldon Rosen – head of the Rosen Association which manufactures the Nexus-6
  • Rachel Rosen – a Nexus-6 android
  • Max Polokov – a Nexus-6 posing as a Soviet cop
  • Pris Stratton – a Nexus-6 who is the same model as Rachel Rosen
  • Hannibal Sloat – Isidore’s employer at the ‘Van Ness Pet Hospital’ which actually repairs mechanical animals
  • Luba Luft – a Nexus-6 posing as an opera singer
  • Garland – a Nexus-6 posing as a police inspector
  • Phil Resch – a SF bounty hunter
  • Ray and Irmgard Baty – the last two Nexus-6 androids

Other things to know

  • Voigt-Kampff Scale – the empathy test designed to expose the androids

Rating:

Related:

Deus Irae published 1976

Dick began Deus Irae in 1964 and collaborated on it with Roger Zelazny on and off for the next twelve years before it finally was published in 1976.

Deus Irae
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A religion called the Servants of Wrath springs up after a nuclear war wipes out most of the planet’s population. The followers worship the destroyer who has come to Earth in the form of Carl Lufteufel, the man responsible for the bombs.

Tibor McMasters, an armless and legless man very similar to the phocomelus Hoppy Harrington from Dr. Bloodmoney (except that Tibor’s cart is pulled by a cow), is hired to paint a church mural featuring Lufteufel for the Servants of Wrath. He sets off on a pilgrimage, followed by Pete Sands, across the post-apocalyptic wasteland in order to find Lufteufel and take a photo of him to reference for the mural.

Cast of characters

  • Father Handy – father in the Servants of Wrath church
  • Tibor McMasters – limbless artist who paints the SOW church mural
  • Pete Sands – Christian church member
  • Dr. Jim Abernathy – Christian priest in Charlottesville
  • Lurnie Rae – SOWer who decides to join the Christian church
  • Carl Lufteufel – Deus Irae. The God of Wrath. Former Chairman of the Energy Research and Development Administration who was responsible for the nuclear war
  • Jackson and Earl Potter – lizard-like mutants Tibor meets on his journey
  • Jack Schuld – a hunter who says he is tracking Lufteufel but turns out to be Lufteufel himself
  • The Great C – a computer out in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that captures passerby and dissolves them in underground vats of acid
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