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