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review 2015-05-19 00:00
Dr. Bloodmoney
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick Set in the (then) near future of 1972, this 1963 novel is PKD's take on the post apocalypse subgenre of sci-fi. For my money Dick did it better than anybody else (as he often did). Grim realistic post apocalypse novels like [b:The Road|6288|The Road|Cormac McCarthy|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320606344s/6288.jpg|3355573] or [b: Earth Abides|93269|Earth Abides|George R. Stewart|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320505234s/93269.jpg|1650913] are all well but they lack that patented PKD weirdness that makes his books so fascinating and entertaining.

There are actually two nuclear apocalypses in this book, the first one was caused by an accident during a nuclear weapon test, millions of people died or affected by radiation. The second one takes place only a decade later with much more catastrophic results. Besides millions of death most modern technology is destroyed, electricity and motor vehicles are things of the past. Mutated humans and animals are common place. The human mutants often have “funny powers” and the animals have their intelligence greatly enhanced.

Most of Dr. Bloodmoney* is set in the rural town of West Marin which Dick has populated with some very colorful characters. The trouble starts with the eponymous Dr. Bloodmoney, real name Dr. Bruno Bluthgeld. He led the nuclear weapon project in 1971 and is responsible for the error that caused the first nuclear disaster. For most of the book he is living incognito in West Marin as Mr. Jack Tree. Other notable characters include “Hoppy Harrington” the phocomelus** handyman with telekinesis powers, a little girl with a brother embedded inside her body, a man stuck in a satellite orbiting around Earth who becomes the world’s last DJ, weatherman and news reporter, a talking dog etc. Dick’s depiction of a post apocalypse world is refreshingly different, it is not a grim radioactive wasteland setting you get in most books in this subgenre. There is a semi-functioning government, limited commerce, local newspapers and some primitive manufacturing.

The narrative structure of Dr. Bloodmoney is quite usual for PKD, there is no main protagonist, Dick uses the “third person omniscient” style switching points of view many times as he sees fit throughout the book. This helps with the world building though it does make the book a little slow to begin with as you are familiarizing yourself with the characters. Interestingly none of the characters are particularly likeable, this would be a weakness in books by other authors, but in this case I find the characters’ individual foibles kind of hilarious.

Dick’s often criticized simplistic prose style is always oddly appealing to me, as is his often stilted dialogue which suits the bizarreness of his worlds quite well. I don’t know why some literary critics presume to know better than Dick how he should have presented his stories. I love how the storyline is unpredictable form beginning to end with many surprises and bizarre happenings along the way. Given the scenario the book has a surprisingly uplifting, optimistic tone and the eccentric humor made me laugh several times.

It’s a (nuclear) blast, read it!

____________________________________
* The original title was Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along after the Bomb, a tribute to Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

** Armless/legless condition caused by Thalidomide.
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review 2014-12-21 21:55
Book Review: Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick

The Basics

Through the course of this story, we follow the beginning of the end of the world, then the progress of those who manage to survive it. At the center of a post-apocalyptic community is Hoppy Harrington, a physically handicapped young man with psychic powers. In this new world, he sees his chance to hold what is left of humanity under his power.

My Thoughts

That summary really only covers a portion of the story, but it’s also the most solid center of it. There are other characters we follow, but Hoppy brings everything together with his megalomaniacal schemes. Typical of PKD’s characters in this vein, Hoppy ranges between being pitiful to earning your dislike.

The same goes for Dr. Bluthgeld, the man whose nickname brings us our title of Dr. Bloodmoney. He sees himself as being the cause of the end of the world. Yes, he may well be, but in his mind, it has nothing to do with the experiments he conducted in the past and everything to do with a power he holds to think disasters upon the world, bordering on an OCD level of belief in himself as a catalyst.

I’m going on about these two characters so much because they represent something that PKD does a lot. He creates characters with a very fragile psyche, presents their world and their thoughts as if they are reality, because it is real to them. I don’t think I can emphasize that enough. Bluthgeld doesn’t have powers, or at least it seems very unlikely, but to him that is reality. Hoppy could get along in the world just fine, but he insists on being godlike to these people. PKD was always writing about reality being subjective, and most times he did that with plot. Here, he does it with characters by manipulating their circumstances.

The plot itself can be a little confusing, though not nearly as confusing as he does sometimes get. He jumps back and forth through time, from the moment of the initial event and forward to the survivors and their community. There were times he didn’t make it totally clear he was doing that, but it’s not hard to catch up with him. The strength here is more in the characters and their development and journeys.

For my part, I am a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories, so this was wonderful for me. If you feel the same way, this is a great one to check out.

Final Rating

5/5

 

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review 2013-02-13 00:00
Dr. Bloodmoney
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick Originally posted here.Okay, so.  Trying to write about Dr Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along After the Bomb without spoiling the shit out of it for people who haven't read it is NIGH ON IMPOSSIBLE but I'm going to give it my best shot (especially since I know of at least one person reading this that was considering it for their next PKD read).It's made especially difficult because I have so many highlighted passages that I want to talk about, but without the context of the book, or sufficient explanation, there's really no point.  I realized as I highlighted the 30th thing last night when I was finishing the book that I was doing it for NO REASON...unless some of you decide to read it, and then I share them with you later.Annoying rambliness aside, listen.  This is my third or fourth read of Dr Bloodmoney and I liked it even more than the first few times.  I think that's the case with most of Dick's work.  You read it once, and you like it just fine (or hate it) and it kind of blows your mind a little; you read it a second time and notice many of the things you missed the first time, your mind is further blown; but then the third time, there's that Dick Click I talked about and you're just "HOLY SHIT, WHAT DID I JUST READ?  MY MIND IS WELL AND TRULY BLOWN!" and then everything else you read after it kind of suffers in comparison.[Queue the mind-blowing-Dick jokes]When I talked about Counter-Clock World (click that link up there), I mentioned that it could be considered weird in that...it wasn't all that weird.  It was a fairly straightforward sf story, that didn't bend your mind all that much.  The same can't really be said about Dr Bloodmoney.  Is it what has become known as standard post-apocalyptic fare, or is it all just some really fucked up fever dreams from the mind of a madman?  It's hard to tell, and I flip back and forth on what I think each time I read (and sometimes several times during each reading).Don't let that terrify you, or put you off reading it, though.  It's still a great story, even if you read it as just straight sf.  There are battles between mutants, mistaken/hidden identities, dogs that talk, rats that can dismantle traps on their own and one of the trampiest female characters I've come to...well, not exactly love, but appreciate.AND!  She still has all of her teeth.So, really, it's all a bit of a downer, I mean - we had one nuclear incident in the 70s, then a few years later...something  happens and the bombs drop AGAIN, leaving everyone worse off than they'd thought - but we're humans so we try to build shit back up again.  We come up with wood burning cars, or just have horses pull the old cars around.  We can't have real cigarettes cos THIS IS CALIFORNIA, but we CAN have a reasonable facsimile...and ooooh, will they cost you.  Booze is hard to come by, but the same guy that makes the cigarettes has a reasonable approximation of brandy.Unfortunately there's an Ayn Rand loving, telekineses having phocomelus who thinks he knows what's better for us than we do ourselves.WHATEVER WILL WE DO?!Sorry, I'm not telling you.
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review 2012-03-15 00:00
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick It's this style of writing and bleak humour and outlook that first enamoured me of PKD. He is, as always, solid in his characterizations and human interactions. Dick presents an extremely warped and welcome presentation of a post apocalyptic world and it's thanks to his outre characters. Hoppy, Edie and Bruno are people you won't soon forget.I do find that PKD is very inaccurate in his predictions of post nuclear conditions but he can be forgiven as this is a riveting story and so out of the norm with most other post apocalyptic books. If you can wade through the many characters I would place this as one of his better works. I would recommend this for anyone that has read his more popular stories and wants to see a bit more of PKD's twisted but brilliant mind.
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review 2011-02-21 00:00
Dr Bloodmoney (Gollancz S.F.)
Dr. Bloodmoney - Philip K. Dick This is probably the weakest PKD book I've read. Not that it was especially bad, it just didn't really work for me on any level.

At no point did I find myself particularly engrossed and enjoying the story. The narrative, fragmented by numerous points of view of the disparate characters whose futures eventually become loosely entwined later on in the novel, and punctuated by random time intervals between chapters, it didn't flow well at all, especially for the first half of the novel.

Here are some familiar themes such as mental illness, paranoia and megalomania and other new ones such as a post apocalyptic scenario, not one but a couple have already happened and another unfolds in the narrative. Also, a full range of psychic powers are explored such as telekinesis, telepathy, future visions and communion with the dead.

One can usually expect a mish-mash of ideas in a PKD novel but they didn't really come together very well here, as he somehow manages to pull off elsewhere. There was a wry humour throughout that occasionally made me chuckle though. All in all, not a book I would particularly recommend.
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