Theme: Other Planets

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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Galactic Pot-Healer published 1969

Galactic Pot-Healer
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I disliked the Galactic Pot-Healer the first time I read it, even going so far as to say it was one of Dick’s worst books, but that was before I read gems like Dr. Futurity and Vulcan’s Hammer. After rereading it I will admit it’s not terrible. I love the absurdist humor, particularly Joe’s robot servant Willis, but I still get what I didn’t like about it the first time. The whole endeavor, where a group of various specialists are summoned to a planet by a powerful alien named Glimmung in order to raise a temple from the planet’s ocean, seemed ultimately pointless. I also never quite understood the Old Testament-like Glimmung.

The story was uneven, like it was a few drafts away from being great, although I’m not sure that’s how Dick worked.

Here are Dick’s own feelings about this one noted over at philipkdickfans.com:

Sometimes it seems funny to me, sometimes it seems…stupid. Stupid. Nothing can be said for it.

He probably put it best himself.

Cast of characters

  • Joe Fernwright – the titular pot-healer
  • Gauk – the soviet official who Joe plays a translation game with over the phone
  • Smith – another player of ‘the game’ in New York
  • Kate – Joe’s ex-wife
  • Hymes and Perkin – two Quietude Civil Authority policemen
  • Glimmung – the alien who wants to raise the temple of Heldscalla on Plowman’s Planet
  • Mali Yojez – a marine biologist on the crew to Plowman’s Planet
  • Harper Baldwin – a psychokineticist on Glimmung’s crew
  • Willis – Joe’s robot servant
  • Amalita – the god worshipped in the temple of Heldscalla
  • Borel – Amalita’s evil sister

Rating:

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Nick and the Glimmung published 1988

Nick and the Glimmung is Philip K. Dick’s lone children’s book. He wrote it in the late ‘60s, but it wasn’t published until 1988. After reading so many of his dour mainstream novels I forgot how deadpan and funny he can be.

Nick and the GlimmungBecause there isn’t enough food to go around on Earth, it is illegal to own pets after 1992. Young Nick Graham owns a cat named Horace, but after it slips outside and gets exposed, Graham’s family decides to emigrate to Plowman’s Planet with the cat rather than let the cat be taken away.

Once on Plowman’s Planet the Grahams have to deal with the various local creatures who are fighting a war amongst themselves spurred on by the evil Glimmung. Horace gets snatched up several times by werjes and trobes, but in the end, Nick fends off Glimmung and is reunited with his cat.

Plowman’s Planet, with a similar group of alien creatures, is also the setting for Galactic Pot-Healer written shortly after this one.

Cast of characters

  • Nick Graham– our protagonist
  • Peter Graham – Nick’s father
  • Helen Graham – Nick’s mother
  • Horace – Nick’s cat
  • Miss Juth – Nick’s teacher on Earth
  • Mr. Deverest – a newspaper reporter on Earth writing about Nick and Horace
  • Reg Frankis – a human colonist/scavenger on Plowman’s Planet
  • Jack and Doris McKenna – neighbors on Plowman’s Planet

Other things to know

  • One Summer Day –  Glimmung’s book that lists the weaknesses of every creature on Plowman’s Planet and can also predict the future. A similar book shows up in Lies, Inc.
  • The Last and Final War – Glimmung’s book of propaganda
  • wubs – a different sort of creature than the one in Dick’s short story “Beyond Lies the Wub.” This one can’t speak and communicates through the use of pre-printed cards
  • The Grand Four – the printers, nunks, spiddles and humans united in a war against the trobes, father-things and werjes who fight on the side of Glimmung

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