Theme: Mental Illness

Dr. Bloodmoney published 1965

Dr. Bloodmoney is Dick’s most unique collection of memorable characters in one story. I liked it even more reading it a second time. 

Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb
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After a few chapters set in Berkeley, California on the last day of modern civilization in 1981 we jump ahead seven years to a world trying to rebuild itself after a nuclear disaster. The mentally unhinged (and telekinetic somehow) Bluthgeld is the man responsible for raining down the nuclear bombs, and he hides out as Mr. Tree in a West Marin commune where the rest of the story takes place. The armless and legless (and also telekinetic) Hoppy Harrington, who had been held down most of his life, is able to become BMOC of this West Marin community until a showdown with seven-year-old Edie (and Bill) Keller that caught me off guard.*

On top of all this there is a man stuck in orbit, since a rocket to Mars had been launched moments before the disaster. He serves as a DJ to the inhabitants of Earth as he passes over each day. Even Stuart McConchie in this one manages to rise above the standard bland everyman in many PKD books. The whole thing comes together as one of Dick’s most accessible novels, and I would highly recommend it.

*Yes, I read this before, but my memory can charitably be described as not good.

Cast of characters

  • Stuart McConchie – salesman at Modern TV Sales & Service before the disaster
  • Jim Fergesson – owner of Modern TV Sales & Service. Modern TV Sales and Service is also the name of the store owned by Roger Lindahl in Puttering About in a Small Land. Jim Fergesson shares his name with the owner of Modern TV Sales and Service in Voices from the Street and the mechanic in Humpty Dumpty in Oakland
  • Bruno Bluthgeld aka Jack Tree– the titular Dr. Bloodmoney. Responsible for a nuclear fallout disaster in 1972 and responsible for the nuclear attack in 1981
  • Doctor Stockstill – Bluthgeld’s psychoanalyst before the attack
  • Bonny Keller – member of the West Marin community who had referred Bluthgeld to Stockstill
  • George Keller – Bonny’s husband
  • Edie Keller – the Keller’s young daughter although she was fathered by Andrew Gill
  • Bill Keller – Edie’s unborn twin who lives and communicates inside of her
  • Hoppy Harrington – a phocomelus with telekinetic powers
  • Walt and Lydia Dangerfield – supposed to be the first couple to emigrate to Mars. Instead Walt ends up in orbit around Earth after the nuclear attack
  • Mr. Austurias – member of the West Marin commune who was killed for attempting to track down Bluthgeld
  • June Raub – on the West Marin planning committee
  • Andrew Gill – a cigarette entrepreneur after the attack
  • Eldon Blaine – a glasses salesman from Bolinas
  • Orion Stroud – chairman of the West Marin school board
  • Hal Barnes – a new school teacher in West Marin
  • Dean Hardy – Stuart’s business partner in a homeostatic vermin trap business
  • Paul Dietz – West Marin’s newspaper man

Rating:

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Martian Time-Slip published 1964

In Martian Time-Slip, Jack Bohlen, a service repairman on Mars, crosses paths with Arnie Kott, a big man on the planet who is struggling to maintain his standing as the UN pushes for new regulations.

Martian Time-Slip
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In this phildickian future of 1994 we learn the frightening statistic that one out of six people suffers from some form of schizophrenia. We also learn that someone with autism is trapped in a world they perceive as moving so quickly they can see into the future. Amid rumors of the UN’s interest in some Martian land for new settlements, Kott schemes to use Bohlen (a ‘former’ schizophrenic) and Bohlen’s connection to his young autistic neighbor Manfred to get a jumpstart on the competition and claim the land for himself.

This book is one of my favorites. The description of Jack’s first schizophrenic episode as a young man is terrifying, as is the entropic, “gubble gubble” world of Manfred as it encroaches into the minds of everyone around him.

Along with Dick’s ideas concerning autism, nothing about the planet in Martian Time-Slip suggests an attempt at rigorous science. PKD’s Mars features flowing water (although it’s scarce), breathable air and an indigenous population of natives called Bleekmen who were on the planet when Earth colonists arrived.

In the hard science fiction novel Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson named the 39.5 minutes of non-time between midnight and 12:01 when the clocks are stopped on Mars in order to simulate an even 24-hour day the ‘Martian time-slip’ as an homage to Dick’s book.

Cast of characters

  • Jack Bohlen – our protagonist. A service repairman on Mars
  • Silvia Bohlen – Jack’s wife
  • David Bohlen – Jack’s son
  • Leo Bohlen – Jack’s father. A land speculator from Earth
  • Mr. Yee – Jack’s employer
  • Arnie Kott – president of the Water Workers’ Local
  • Anne Esterhazy – Arnie’s ex-wife. Circulates a political newsletter for women
  • Norbert Steiner – Jack’s neighbor and dealer in black-market food
  • Otto Zitte – a black marketeer
  • Manfred Steiner – Norbert’s autistic son in Camp B-G for anomalous children
  • Dr. Glaub – a psychotherapist
  • Doreen Anderton – Arnie Kott’s mistress and Jack’s lover

Rating:

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Clans of the Alphane Moon published 1964

One of Dick’s funniest premises. Former patients of a mental hospital abandoned by Earth on an Alphane moon have established a somewhat stable class system organized by mental disorder. The clans include the Pares (paranoids), Manses (manics), Deps (depressives), Polys (polymorphic schizophrenics), Skitzes, (schizophrenics), Ob-Coms (obsessive compulsives) and the Heebs (hebephrenics).

Clans of the Alphane Moon
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On Earth Chuck Rittersdorf is drawn into a plot involving the Alphanes and their quest to regain control of the moon. Mary Rittersdorf, a psychologist and Chuck’s estranged wife, travels to the moon to evaluate the inhabitants. Meanwhile Chuck gets involved with Bunny Hentman, a former criminal with ties to the Alphane government, who is currently working on Earth as a TV comic. He hires Chuck as a writer (apparently the scripts Chuck writes for CIA simulacra are gut-bustingly funny), but in reality Bunny is only using Chuck because of the connection to his wife.

Chuck eventually ends up on the Alphane moon, and the story wraps up with Chuck helping to convince the clans to accept Alphane rule as long as they aren’t put back into a mental hospital. Mary and Chuck tentatively resume their relationship (I forgot to mention Chuck was trying to kill Mary all this time with the use of a CIA simulacrum) and they both have mental evaluations. Turns out Mary is a Dep, but Chuck, who has a clean bill of mental health, decides to start a new clan on the moon called the Norms.

Clans of the Alphane Moon is filled with some of Dick’s most unique characters like the Heeb mystics and the telepathic Ganymedean slime Lord Running Clam, so it’s too bad we spend most of the book with Chuck, a typically bland PKD protagonist dealing with suicidal impulses and marital problems.

Cast of characters

  • Gabriel Baines – the Pare delegate
  • Howard Straw – the Mans delegate
  • Jacob Simion – the Heeb delegate
  • Annette Golding – the Poly delegate
  • Ingrid Hibbler – the Ob Com delegate
  • Omar Diamond – the Skitz delegate
  • Dino Waters – the Dep delegate
  • Chuck Rittersdorf – our protagonist. Programs simulacra for the CIA
  • Mary Rittersdorf – Chuck’s estranged wife. A psychologist
  • Bunny Hentman – a TV comedian
  • Jerry Feld – producer of Bunny’s show
  • Joan Triste – a psi capable of rewinding time
  • Lord Running Clam – Chuck’s Ganymedean neighbor
  • Jack Elwood – Chuck’s CIA boss
  • Roger London – Jack Elwood’s boss
  • Pete Petri – Chuck’s scriptwriting coworker at the CIA
  • Daniel Mageboom – the simulacrum sent to the Alphane moon with Mary
  • Ignatz Ledebur – a Heeb mystic
  • Sarah Apostoles – another Heeb mystic
  • Calv Dark and Thursday Jones – Bunny’s writers
  • RBX 303 – an Alphane connected to the Alphane government
  • Patty Weaver – Bunny’s mistress

Rating:

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