Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said breaks from the formula Dick had used in a lot of his earlier books. Instead of a down-on-his-luck everyman, Jason Taverner (blessed with strength, smarts and good looks due to a secret genetic experiment) is the host of a popular television show. After his mistress attempts to kill him, he wakes up in a world where he is no longer famous and evidently doesn’t even exist.
The mystery of how Jason ended up in a parallel universe with no identity doesn’t have a particularly satisfying conclusion, but Dick seems more concerned in this one with exploring ideas of love and grief. Ruth Rae has a long discussion with Jason about the importance of love for pets in spite of their short lives, and in a memorable sequence, the police general Felix Buckman has a nervous breakdown near the end of the book as he processes the death of Alys, who was not only his sister but also his incestuous lover.
Cast of characters
Jason Taverner – host of the Jason Taverner Show
Heather Hart – Jason’s girlfriend
Marilyn Mason – Jason’s mistress who tries to kill him
Kathy Nelson – the young girl who forges Jason’s documents
Inspector McNulty – Kathy’s police contact
Felix Buckman – Los Angeles police general
Alys Buckman – Buckman’s twin sister
Herb Maime – Buckman’s chief of staff
Ruth Rae – Jason’s former mistress who he meets in Las Vegas
Mary Anne Dominic – a potter. She helps Jason escape from the Buckman house
I like The Crack in Space even though it’s obviously not one of Philip K. Dick’s greatest works.
A man repairing a Jiffi-scuttler finds a small tear that leads to a parallel Earth. This comes at a time of severe overpopulation and unemployment where the U.S. has warehoused over seventy million people in suspended animation to be thawed out once the labor market improves.
Jim Briskin, a candidate hoping to be the first black elected president, sees an opportunity to send the bibs (as they are called) through this ‘crack in space’ to colonize the parallel Earth. That plan falls apart when they discover this other planet is inhabited by some far distant ancestor on the evolutionary tree.
Here are some things I love about this book:
The introduction to Jim Briskin. “…he still wore a formal dark suit even in hot weather. That, and a flaming red wig, had been his trademark back in the days when he had telecast as a TV newsclown.”
The poorly-defined Jiffi-scuttler. It’s at the center of the story and I have no idea about its intended use. It’s only described as some kind of limited time travel device.
George Walt, the conjoined twins who share a single head. It’s so weird that I can’t even picture how a creature like that would move around, and maybe PKD couldn’t picture it either. “It’s a wonder George Walt can perambulate,’ Jim said. ‘Joined at the base of the skull, the way they are. Must be damned awkward.” Also, they own a satellite brothel in orbit.
If this book feels like too many different stories in one that’s because Dick evidently borrowed from several of his short stories when putting this together.
Cast of characters
Darius Pethel – owner of Pethel Jiffi-scuttler Sales & Service
Lurton Sands – org-trans surgeon involved in a divorce
Myra Sands – Dr. Sand’s wife. An abort consultant
James Briskin – black candidate for president on the Republican Liberal ticket
Thisbe Olt – operator of the Golden Door satellite. Thisbe Holt is the girl in the bubble in The Broken Bubble
Stu Hadley – salesman at Pethel Jiffi-scuttler Sales & Service. Stu Hadley is also the name of the main character in Voices from the Street.
Sal Heim – Briskin’s campaign manager
Patricia – Sal’s wife
Phil Danville – speechwriter for Briskin
William Schwarz – the incumbent president and Briskin’s opponent. A State’s Rights Conservative Democrat
Bruno Mini – advocate of a ‘planet wetting’ technique of terraforming
Frank Woodbine – a space explorer
Rick Erickson – repairman for Pethel Jiffi-scuttler Sales & Service
George Walt – the two-bodied, one-headed mutant owner of the Golden Door Moments of Bliss satellite brothel
Tito Cravelli – Myra Sand’s private investigator
Cally Vale – Dr. Sand’s mistress
Leon Turpin – chairman on the board at Terran Development, manufacturers of the Jiffi-scuttler