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 Her name was repurposed from Mary and the Giant (unpublished when this book came out) along with Joe Schilling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
In Ubik Dick took one of his own tropes, a group of people trapped unknowingly in a simulated or false reality (used previously in Eye in the Sky and later in A Maze of Death) and created one of his most entertaining novels.
In 1992 Glen Runciter’s anti-psionic prudence organization duels with Raymond Hollis’s group of telepaths and precogs. Runciter’s employees end up stuck in the simulated reality of half-life storage after Hollis lures them to the moon and attempts to kill them. The group is tormented by a powerful fifteen-year-old half-lifer, and Runciter, still alive on the outside, tries to help them as time inside half-life regresses into the past (similar to the drug-induced time travel in Now Wait for Last Year).
It sounds absurd in summary, but the book is stuffed with some of Dick’s funniest and best ideas while dealing with his prevalent theme of the nature of reality.
Cast of characters
Glen Runciter – owner of Runciter Associates, an anti-psi prudence organization
Ella Runciter – Glen’s twenty-year-old dead wife in half-life
Herbert Schoenheit von Vogelsang – owner of Beloved Brethren Moratorium
Jory Miller – a dead fifteen-year-old boy in half-life cold-pac storage
Raymond Hollis – employs telepaths. Runciter’s opposition
G. G. Ashwood – one of Runciter’s telepaths
Joe Chip – Runciter’s electrical tester
Pat Conley– an anti-precog
Stanton Mick – reclusive speculator and financier
Zoe Wirt – Stanton Mick’s assistant
Tippy Jackson, Edie Dorn, Al Hammond, John Ild, Francesca Spanish, Tito Apostos, Don Denny, Sammy Mundo, Wendy Wright, Fred Zafsky – Runciter’s inertials who travel to Luna
The Ganymede Takeover is a forgettable collaboration Dick wrote with Ray Nelson in the mid-60s.
Worm-like, telepathic Ganymedeans have invaded Earth, and one of the few groups of humans still putting up a fight are the stupidly-named Neeg-parts, led by Percy X, in the hills of Tennessee. These Neeg-parts get ahold of some mind-warping technology designed for the U.N. and they finally fight off the Ganymedeans in the end.
Cast of characters
Mekkis – a Ganymedean civilian administrator who takes control of the bale of Tennessee
Koli – Military Administrator for the Ganymedeans. In control of the bale of Tennessee until Mekkis takes over
The Oracle – a precog Ganymedean creech
Percy X – leader of the Neeg-parts on Earth. A telepath
Lincoln Shaw – Percy X’s second-in-command
Joan Hiashi – intends to infiltrate the Neeg-parts on behalf of the Ganymedeans
Paul Rivers – a psychiatrist with the World Psychiatric Association
Gus Swenesgard – feudal baron of a plantation area in Tennessee
Rudolph Balkani – Chief of the Bureau of Psychedelic Research