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.
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.