I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

By Philip K. Dick

Rating: 3 stars

The tone of this collection of Dick’s stories is set in the introduction, which is spent discussing the nature of reality and what it means to be human, in the context of events in Dick’s own life, and the coincidences that occurred following the writing of his novel, Flow my Tears the Policeman Said. It’s a fairly dark collection, with The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford being the exceptional light, moderately fluffy story of a machine that annoys things into becoming alive. The Alien Mind is a very short and very darkly humorous tale of an arrogant spaceman and the title story is one that lingers in the mind, with its nightmare of a man whose cryogenic sleep unit partially fails, so that he is conscious throughout his ten year journey, and the lengths that the ship will go to keep him sane.

The recurrent themes of meaning in human life, and questioning humanity are present in almost all of Dick’s work, but this collection of shorts has them to the fore. The lightness of touch of other of his short fiction is missing here which made reading the stories in quick succession sometimes difficult, but the book is still definitely worth reading. Although I might recommend taking it slowly, and interspersing it with other stuff.

Book details

ISBN: 9780312908386
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Year of publication: 1985

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur, #1)

By Hannu Rajaniemi

Rating: 4 stars

Jean le Flambeur is a thief. Broken out of prison by the agent of a god, he has to find his own hidden memories in a place where memory and privacy of mind and body can be absolute, or so its inhabitants think.

This is a fascinating book, with ideas coming thick and fast, right from the first page. When we meet le Flambeur for the first time, he’s an uploaded mind in a very real version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. From there, the pace doesn’t let up, with new words being thrown at you, and often not really explained, leaving the reader to work them out from context. It’s certainly a book that doesn’t patronise the reader and would reward rereading. So I’ll add it to my already extensive reread list (which never gets any shorter as I always have a stack of books to read for the first time!).

There’s obviously a lot of thought gone into the worldbuilding here and it’s drip-fed to us slowly throughout the book, with more to come in the sequel. And speaking of the sequel, although the main story of this book was completed within this novel, the overall story is to span a trilogy, and, indeed, hasn’t really been touched on in this volume. Le Flambeur was broken out of prison to carry out a theft for his liberator’s employer, but he can’t do that until he gets his memories back. This book is that story, with the theft itself barely mentioned. But despite that, I’m pretty hooked and will look forward to reading the rest of this trilogy.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575088894
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2010

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