Whether or not you like VALIS depends on how much you can tolerate Dick’s ramblings about the events of February/March 1974. See R. Crumb’s take on what supposedly happened to him if you aren’t familiar. Others might find it endlessly fascinating, but it’s never done much for me.
VALIS is narrated by Philip K. Dick himself as he tells the story of the apparent descent into madness of Horselover Fat. Since it’s given away early on, it’s not a spoiler to say Fat and Dick have a Tyler Durden thing going on. ‘Philip’ means ‘Horselover’ in Greek and ‘Fat’ is the German translation of ‘Dick.’
I like the style of his later books, but outside of a few amusing scenes (particularly when Fat tries to avoid talking about religion with his therapist so that he doesn’t get sent back to the psych ward but ends up ranting about the deranged god Yaldaboath when the therapist asks him if he believes in God) this book would make a fine cure for insomnia.
In short: Horselover Fat starts to lose his mind after the suicide of a friend, believes he is being contacted by some kind of alien satellite and eventually goes on a quest to find the reborn savior. The story in the VALIS film that Fat and his friends go see is repurposed from Radio Free Albemuth which was unpublished when Dick wrote this book.
Cast of characters
- Horselover Fat – our protagonist
- Philip K. Dick – as himself
- Gloria – commits suicide at the beginning of the book
- Stephanie – young dope dealer who gives Horselover Fat a clay pot
- Kevin and David – Horselover Fat’s friends
- Sherri – Horselover Fat’s friend who dies of cancer
- Beth – Horselover Fat’s wife
- Christopher – Horselover Fat’s son
- Dr. Stone – in charge of the North Ward mental hospital
- Maurice – Horselover Fat’s therapist
- Eric Lampton aka Goose – writer/director of the VALIS film
- Brent Mini – created the music for the VALIS film
- Sophia – Eric and Linda Lampton’s daughter. The reborn savior??