Our Friends from Frolix 8

The PKD series continues with, frankly, bottom drawer work.

Raw Feed (1990): Our Friends From Frolix 8, Philip K. Dick, 1970.Our Friends from Frolix 8

I seemed to recall reading interviews with Dick stating this book represented a time of extreme creative fatigue in Dick’s life and that he regarded this book as totally lacking merit. It’s largely true this book reads as if Dick is trying to just fill up white space with something, as if it’s an attempt to meet alimony payments.

This book makes Dick seem very tired at the time.

The book’s plot holds together better than Dick’s other bad book, The Simulcra, but it is much more boring.

There are occasional flashes of Dick’s traditional humor, wit, and power in the poignancy of the novel’s end, the short, whimsical discussion of cats, and the oh-so-Dickian character of Charlotte Boyer, a neurotic, insightful, passionate, damaged girl of the kind that often shows up in Dick’s work and, it seems, he was attracted to in life.

But Boyer is not as well-realized a version of the “Dark-Haired Girl” as say Pris Frauenzimmer of We Can Build You. (It is interesting to note that Dick postulates an early life of abuse as an explanation for girls like Boyer. They can’t form relationships, are neurotic, and have a core of emptiness while desperately wanting love.)

Gone are reality shifts and perceptual questions. Dick gives us a pale tale of political intrigue in which he half-heartedly poses moral questions of revolution and revenge. He doesn’t even use the tension of the question of Frolixian motives to good effect.

 

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2 thoughts on “Our Friends from Frolix 8

    • marzaat January 23, 2018 / 12:29 pm

      I’m not a big fan of Lethem the writer, but that’s a perceptive look at PKD.

      I agree particularly with Lethem noting that PKD’s heroes are small people at the mercy of greater forces and, while he may have satire, he takes the plight of his characters seriously.

      On of my favorite scenes in a PKD novel is when J.R. the repairman is trying to repair a broken cat robot — and finally figures out it’s a real cat. It’s funny, sad, and a little scary.

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