We Can Build You

And the PKD series continues.

You’ll just have to take my word that new stuff is in the pipeline.

Raw Feed (1989): We Can Build You, Philip K. Dick, 1972.We Can Build You

A depressing Dick novel of a doomed, one-sided love affair that also had the usual Dick humor, realistic dialogue, and superb characterization.

The character of Pris Frauenzimmer, a selfish, withdrawn, calculating, mercurial woman, was very well done. She was not the usual devouring woman of Dick’s fiction but an object of doomed, illogical love on Louis Rosen’s part.

As the Jungian influenced psychobabble of Dr. Nisea says, Pris is the projection of contradictory abstract archetypes: cold, selfish, sterile in love yet the creator of the superbly realized, thoughtful, gentle, kind Abe Lincoln simulacra. (The simulacrums of Stanton and Lincoln were wonderful characters, and the source of much humor and philosophical speculation.) However, Pris, contrary to Nisea’s theory, is not the projection of these archetypes but an actual embodiment, and she exerts a powerful influence on Rosen, and her acid comments lend some to the book’s humor though her personality ultimately dooms the would-be romance on Rosen’s part.

Rosen’s fatigue and anxiety were splendidly drawn and very recognizable. (If you read enough of Dick and his neurotic and/or psychotic characters and their recognizable, realistic foibles, you begin to question your own sanity.) [The older Marzaat is quite confident of his own sanity. Of others … ]  

The squabbling relationship between Maury Rock and Rosen was almost like a marriage with its arguments, outbursts, and insults but an ultimately loving, touching marriage (particularly when Rose goes to the mental health clinic) of mutual support.

The figure of Sam Barrows (reminiscent of the Trump-like businessmen of today) [Yes, that is from 1989, not 2018. And, no, we are not going to discuss the Trump of today.] was well-drawn as the sleazy, cunning, unflappable businessman.

The book’s only flaw was that it seemed to wander at times, but that was probably due to its emphasis not on plot (some of the book’s weakest points were when Barrows tries to takeover R&R Associates — the problems seemed artificial, easily solved on Rock-Rosen’s part, and there just to advance the plot) but on character.


More reviews of fantastic fiction are indexed by title and author/editor.

3 thoughts on “We Can Build You

  1. George Kelley January 10, 2018 / 11:45 am

    The early 1970s were a productive time for Philip K. Dick. WE CAN BUILD YOU could be read as a prequel to DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? Few SF writers capture the existential angst of androids and simulacra like PKD.

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