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. Also the owner of Beloved Brethren Mortuary in “What the Dead Men Say”
- 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