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Yielding to a compulsion he can’t explain, Ted Barton interrupts his vacation in order to visit the town of his birth, Millgate, Virginia. But upon entering the sleepy, isolated little hamlet, Ted is distraught to find that the place bears no resemblance to the one he left behind—and never did. He also discovers that in this Millgate Ted Barton died of scarlet fever when h Yielding to a compulsion he can’t explain, Ted Barton interrupts his vacation in order to visit the town of his birth, Millgate, Virginia. But upon entering the sleepy, isolated little hamlet, Ted is distraught to find that the place bears no resemblance to the one he left behind—and never did. He also discovers that in this Millgate Ted Barton died of scarlet fever when he was nine years old. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that it is literally impossible to escape. Unable to leave, Ted struggles to find the reason for such disturbing incongruities, but before long, he finds himself in the midst of a struggle between good and evil that stretches far beyond the confines of the valley. Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves. From the Trade Paperback edition.


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Yielding to a compulsion he can’t explain, Ted Barton interrupts his vacation in order to visit the town of his birth, Millgate, Virginia. But upon entering the sleepy, isolated little hamlet, Ted is distraught to find that the place bears no resemblance to the one he left behind—and never did. He also discovers that in this Millgate Ted Barton died of scarlet fever when h Yielding to a compulsion he can’t explain, Ted Barton interrupts his vacation in order to visit the town of his birth, Millgate, Virginia. But upon entering the sleepy, isolated little hamlet, Ted is distraught to find that the place bears no resemblance to the one he left behind—and never did. He also discovers that in this Millgate Ted Barton died of scarlet fever when he was nine years old. Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that it is literally impossible to escape. Unable to leave, Ted struggles to find the reason for such disturbing incongruities, but before long, he finds himself in the midst of a struggle between good and evil that stretches far beyond the confines of the valley. Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves. From the Trade Paperback edition.

30 review for The Cosmic Puppets

  1. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    "The headline seemed to hang a few feet in front of his face, the black type, yellow paper. Scarlet fever strikes again: Second child dies... The second child was Ted Barton. He hadn't moved out of Millgate on October 9, 1935. He had died of scarlet fever. But it wasn't possible! He was alive. Sitting here in his Packard...Maybe he wasn't Ted Barton. False memories. Even his name, his identity. The whole contents of his mind - everything. Falsified, by someone or something. His hands gripped the "The headline seemed to hang a few feet in front of his face, the black type, yellow paper. Scarlet fever strikes again: Second child dies... The second child was Ted Barton. He hadn't moved out of Millgate on October 9, 1935. He had died of scarlet fever. But it wasn't possible! He was alive. Sitting here in his Packard...Maybe he wasn't Ted Barton. False memories. Even his name, his identity. The whole contents of his mind - everything. Falsified, by someone or something. His hands gripped the wheel desperately. But if he wasn't Ted Barton - then who was he?" After reading lots of PK Dick short stories, it was interesting to read something with more twists and turns. PK Dick's Cosmic Puppets is more developed and each twist is fun. The story isn't just about Ted Barton or the characters he first meets when he visits Millgate. The small town is a battleground with supernatural forces vying for control over what is real. The ending is somewhat weak but Cosmic Puppets is still a fun read! 3.5 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Go into an old friend’s house. Look on the walls, in pleasant frames on end tables and on the kitchen counter. You see someone who looks like your friend: younger, taller, more hair, broader of shoulder and smaller of waist. See the younger self, not older nor wiser, but green, full of kinetic energy and verve. This is how I read Philip K. Dick’s 1957 publication, The Cosmic Puppets. Phil was only 29 when this was released by Ace Books as a double, the other novella being Sargasso Of Space by And Go into an old friend’s house. Look on the walls, in pleasant frames on end tables and on the kitchen counter. You see someone who looks like your friend: younger, taller, more hair, broader of shoulder and smaller of waist. See the younger self, not older nor wiser, but green, full of kinetic energy and verve. This is how I read Philip K. Dick’s 1957 publication, The Cosmic Puppets. Phil was only 29 when this was released by Ace Books as a double, the other novella being Sargasso Of Space by Andre Norton. The reader sees a novelist bursting with energy and with fresh ideas and even the first steps of the deep journeys he would later undertake. Recalling both Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft, The Cosmic Puppets is about a small, isolated Virginia town that has been collectively caught in a complicated illusion, the townspeople altered to a strange and different reality. Rod Serling needs to step out of the shadows to introduce the story, so reminiscent of Twilight Zone (1959-1964), it could have been used as an episode. “We see as through a glass, darkly” - how many generations, how many hundreds of thousands, of millions, of people over the centuries have read that passage in the Bible (First Corinthians 13:12) and have moved on unaffected. PKD references this line in Cosmic Puppets and then, later, names one of his most popular novels after this, changing the tense slightly, A Scanner Darkly. Also Phil’s use of models and clay golems is an earlier vision of his later work The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. All in all, The Cosmic Puppets is not one of his great works, but it is indicative of his great talent and is a fine story for a PKD fan or for an aficionado of 50s pulp.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    "I've never seen this town before," he muttered huskily, almost inaudibly. "It's completely different." He turned to his wife, bewildered and scared. "This isn't the Millgate I remember. This isn't the town I grew up in!" The Cosmic Puppets by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick is set in the small town of Millgate, Virginia during the 1950s. Ted Barton spent his boyhood in Millgate but when he returns as a man in his late twenties, the entire town has completely changed - the street n "I've never seen this town before," he muttered huskily, almost inaudibly. "It's completely different." He turned to his wife, bewildered and scared. "This isn't the Millgate I remember. This isn't the town I grew up in!" The Cosmic Puppets by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick is set in the small town of Millgate, Virginia during the 1950s. Ted Barton spent his boyhood in Millgate but when he returns as a man in his late twenties, the entire town has completely changed - the street names, the buildings and stores, the houses and park - none of what Ted sees around him is familiar. He might as well have returned to another small town. One can almost hear the theme from The Twilight Zone playing in the background. Ted Barton wants answers. He starts asking the people in Millgate questions and quickly discovers something is terribly wrong – nobody remembers a boy with his name or knows what happened to the old town park or his school or even the street where his parents owned a house. It's as if everything he remembered as a kid never existed. Impossible! Ted goes to the office of the Millgate Weekly to check the town records. Only it’s the Millgate Times not the Millgate Weekly. Turns out, although the newspaper records his name correctly, his father and mother are listed as Donald and Sarah not their true names - Joe and Ruth - and their street address is all wrong. Checking further produces even more alarming news: during October, 1935, the month and year his parents sold their Millgate house to move to Richmond, there is a report that Theodore Barton died of scarlet fever. Whoa! Is he really who he thinks he is? And if he isn't Ted Barton, then who is he? Ted Barton, current resident of New York City, gets a room at the local boarding house but when he’s unpacking the landlady’s son enters and asks who he is and how he got through the barrier. Such strange questions from this odd-looking, thin, bony ten-year-old boy with huge brown eyes and an unusually wide forehead. They converse and the strangeness increases: this boy whose name is Peter starts talking about how he can stop time and has power over creatures. Peter goes on to ask Ted if he has seen both of them and then lets Ted know he’d like to trace one of the Wanderers to find out where they come from and how they do it. What the hell is this kid talking about? The strangeness builds until Peter runs away downstairs to the porch and shouts up at Ted: “I know who you are. I know who you really are!” Shortly thereafter, Ted has other conversations and witnesses even more oddities. Only one thing is certain: nothing is what it appears to be. With additional probing and discoveries, one possibility looms above all others, a possibility Ted is willing to explore with confidence: the Millgate he knew as a kid, the small town of his boyhood with all its familiar people, streets, buildings and park hasn't disappeared as much as it has been distorted in some mysterious way by an unseen power. Written in 1953 but not published until 1957, The Cosmic Puppets is a must read for PKD fans and a great read for anybody else. Philip K. Dick wrote this short, gripping novel when age 25 and used its framework to explores a number of themes and questions that would come to haunt and obsess him over the years. Among their number: Paranoia of being taken over: Back in the 1950s, people who loved Small Town America could see its demise coming. Not only paranoia of being overrun by the Commies (The Red Scare)) but more probably wiped out by city slickers and sharpies with their suburban sprawl and shopping malls. Oh, yes, twenty years later and the unending sprawl covers nearly all the land in its poisonous neon ooze, Phil would write one of his most famous novels addressing precisely this dilemma: A Scanner Darkly. A forgotten sense of history and identity: The old town park had a civil war cannon and plaque commemorating a war hero. In the author’s concern for a population cut off from its own history, I was reminded of Milan Kundera’’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Closely linked with a loss of history, PKD was also vitally concerned with the country’s drop in the literacy rate: an entire society where people either can’t read or choose not to read but rather are satisfied with being entertained by their TVs featuring advertisement that are nothing more than shiny sewer-bugs that rot the brain. Phil uses this image for TV ads in his The Solar Lottery. Discrediting tools and craft: Ted Barton comes to know a haggard oldster and town drunk by the name of William Christopher. However, back when Millgate was the true Millgate, William Christopher was his true self, a robust, sober, hard-working electronics expert. Philip K. Dick had great respect for men and women possessing expertise in handling material things – carpenters, masons, potters, auto mechanics – and abhorred the direction American society was headed: an entire population of service workers and telemarketers. This theme is picked up most directly in Galactic Pot-Healer. Mental Projection and Mind Power: With his special mental powers, the above mentioned ten-year old Peter is able to vitalize and control his small Gumby-like clay creations he calls golems (one of the creepier parts of the tale) along with an entire menagerie of snakes, spiders and large viscous rats with red eyes. And Peter isn’t the only one who has such powers. Such a preoccupation with mental powers of one variety or another is prominent in dozens of the author's novels. Cosmic forces and underlying divine power: Is all that we see only an illusion? Does our material world weigh us down and occlude our vision, block of perception of an underlying light that is the “true” reality? Or, is there more than one divine force acting in our universe, using humans and other mundane forms of life as if puppets on strings? On this last point, The Cosmic Puppets touches on such ancient dualistic religions as Zoroastrianism, Gnosticism and Manichaeism. Ah, if we humans only knew the true nature of the ultimate, underlying reality! Philip K. Dick went on to write not only entire novels exploring this question in its many manifestations, such novels as The Divine Invasion and Valis but you can read all about it in his 1,000-page The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. Want a preview? Dickheads of the world unite! - read The Cosmic Puppets. American science fiction author Philip K. Dick, 1928-1982

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zoeytron

    Strange things are afoot in the small hamlet of Millgate.  Why is it that the townfolk consider them to be perfectly natural?  A little boy putters around in an old barn loft, communing with his creepy crawlies and messing with time.  Nearby, a young girl gathers information from bees.  After an absence of 18 years, Ted Barton returns to the place of his childhood.  Clearly unacquainted with the famous admonition that "you can't go home again", he is mystified when nothing is as he remembers it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan Budd

    PKD ~ Where have you been all my life? I never read Philip K. Dick before this year, but I finally decided to give him a try. I read through all the book blurbs and chose Ubik to be my introduction to this author who is revered by many, yet virtually unknown to me. I wanted to make a good choice because, if I chose an inferior book, I might not try another. I think I chose well. So well that I feel confident that I will want to read through his oeuvre. Perhaps The Cosmic Puppets seems an odd choi PKD ~ Where have you been all my life? I never read Philip K. Dick before this year, but I finally decided to give him a try. I read through all the book blurbs and chose Ubik to be my introduction to this author who is revered by many, yet virtually unknown to me. I wanted to make a good choice because, if I chose an inferior book, I might not try another. I think I chose well. So well that I feel confident that I will want to read through his oeuvre. Perhaps The Cosmic Puppets seems an odd choice for my second book, but I actually put some thought into it. It is the Valis trilogy that most interests me, but I know these books are the culmination of a life’s work and I want to approach them in the best possible way. And what better way than to begin at the beginning? Now I’m not taking this too literally, but I did want to read something from early in Dick’s career. The Cosmic Puppets was the fourth book on a chronological list of thirty-five Dick novels, so it seemed early enough to give me insight into where Dick was coming from. Reading it with the knowledge that Dick’s work would progress over the next twenty-five years, I found it to be a very promising beginning. The first half of the book has a Bradburyesque small town setting and a Twilight Zone vibe which I enjoyed. Not surprising since I am a long-time fan of both. But the second half of the book enters the very territory that I came to PKD to explore. Paradoxically, I didn’t enjoy reading the second half as much as the first half. Nevertheless it is the second half that interests me ~ the Zoroastrian battle between the cosmic forces of good and evil. Apparently Dick’s religious quest was already underway at this early stage in his writing. And I am eager to follow him and see where he will lead.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    "Remember Millgate?" - Philip K. Dick, The Cosmic Puppets Ted Barton returns to the small Virginia town of his youth and discovers the town is completely different. It is ground zero for an eternal battle between two Zurvanite Zoroastrian demigods/twin brothers -- Ahura Mazda (Ohrmuzd) and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman). This fight is being waged by proxy using two of the town's more precocious tweens (Mary and Peter). The novel starts like a typical Rod Sterling production, but like PKD is want to do, it "Remember Millgate?" - Philip K. Dick, The Cosmic Puppets Ted Barton returns to the small Virginia town of his youth and discovers the town is completely different. It is ground zero for an eternal battle between two Zurvanite Zoroastrian demigods/twin brothers -- Ahura Mazda (Ohrmuzd) and Angra Mainyu (Ahriman). This fight is being waged by proxy using two of the town's more precocious tweens (Mary and Peter). The novel starts like a typical Rod Sterling production, but like PKD is want to do, it quickly transforms and expands into something almost out of an H.P. Lovecraft novel (Lyn, I love reading your review AFTER and discovering a similar vibe). This novel is one of the main reasons I love PKD. Here is a guy, in his youth, writing a pulply Sci-Fi novel and he can't help jump from campy Sci-Fi into a bizarre Zoroastrian battle that is both across the Universe and in a small Virginia town. He is the epitome of high brow (Zoroastrian demigods) and low-brow (turning a ball of string into a tire iron). It is strange that in the same week I would read TWO different novels that basically play with the idea of Zoroastrianism being true (the other is Stephen Peck's A Short Stay in Hell). So, if I learned anything this week, it might be that it's time to bone up on my cosmogonic dualism because I don't want to be the last person on Earth to suck up to the supremely wise, Lord Creator, Ahura Mazda.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tristram Shandy

    “Did it ever occur to you that maybe some of these people prefer the illusion?” Poor Ted Barton! When, on his way back home from a holiday with his wife Peg, he decides to pay a spontaneous visit to his old hometown Millgate, a secluded little place in the mountains, he finds the whole town strangely altered. Anyone who has yielded to the foolish impulse of re-visiting a childhood place will share this experience, but in Barton’s case, there is more to it than just the unacknowledged reluctance t “Did it ever occur to you that maybe some of these people prefer the illusion?” Poor Ted Barton! When, on his way back home from a holiday with his wife Peg, he decides to pay a spontaneous visit to his old hometown Millgate, a secluded little place in the mountains, he finds the whole town strangely altered. Anyone who has yielded to the foolish impulse of re-visiting a childhood place will share this experience, but in Barton’s case, there is more to it than just the unacknowledged reluctance to coming to terms with the realization that the scenery of your childhood is no longer the same – and that it equals yourself in that respect. No, in Barton’s case, there are larger powers at work than just the course of ordinary events for he finds that nothing in that place is “right”, neither the houses, nor the names of the streets, nor the people themselves. All these things have not simply changed, but in fact seem never to have been at all! He even finds that a compass he carries in his trouser-pocket, a keepsake from his childhood, has turned into a piece of stale bread. While his wife Peg somehow does not seem to care a fig about these time inconsistencies – she is quite fed up with Ted’s enthusiasm about his childhood memories, anyway –, Ted himself cannot choose to overlook this puzzle. He wants to find out what is at the bottom of the Millgate mystery, even if this means risking the break-up of his marriage and, less unsettling, confronting primeval powers of darkness. Dick’s early novel The Cosmic Puppets was published in 1957 and it immediately plunges the reader right into the action – interestingly through a device that the outstanding director Sam Peckinpah would use at the beginning of one of his most famous western movies: Similarly to the children in The Wild Bunch, whose gruesome play with a scorpion and a colony of ants mirrors the tragic conflict of the film, a couple of children in The Cosmic Puppets are sitting in front of a porch and competing with each other moulding little figures of clay. We will see that the motif of creation that is hinted at in this little scene will be of quite some importance later on, especially when we are going to be led into a discussion on what it takes for a reality to be regarded as “real”. Ted Barton might feel that he is moving through a fake town with fake people in it, but to these people their lives are perfectly real and valid, and it would never for a moment occur to them that their existence has effaced some reality with an older right. In his quest to get the old town back Ted even comes across a man who actually knows that the reality of which he is part is not the original one but who, for all his moral qualms and scruples, simply does not want to part with the life he is living in this fake reality. Who knows, he says, what my role in “real” reality is? What reads like the script for an intriguing episode of The Twilight Zone – I have not even mentioned the mysterious Wanderers, transparent beings who walk about town with their eyes pressed close and whose existence is no matter of wonder to the town-dwellers – will eventually adopt another, less interesting twist to me, which I would not like to divulge here. Let’s just say that I found it out of place, not without logic holes and detracting from the original mystery that was built up. I must say that I quite sympathized with Ted from the very start because I was entirely able to share his concern about preserving the El Dorado of his memories. Whenever I happen to find myself in my childhood village, I get on my wife’s nerves by saying things like, “There used to be a cherry-tree in that garden, which we used to climb as children. It’s not there, anymore.” The latter sentence has to be pronounced with indignation that implies that all other changes that have occurred in the past forty years are at least equally disgusting. Then there is my classic “There used to be wonderful half-timbered farmhouse on the site of that filling-station”, which I sometimes vary with the introductory “Have I ever told you that …” or with a question such as “Do you know what used to be on that site instead of that bloody filling-station?” More recently, I have made my son my new audience instead of my wife because I fear his wrath far less than I do hers … So, what I want to say is that in a way, I can fully understand Ted Barton, but at the same time I have to wonder at the exactness with which he seems to be able to summon up to memory every single little detail of his childhood town. Maybe, after all, this guy is simply not willing to really grow up and leave behind him “the fields where joy forever dwells”? After all, would it not be natural to assume that at least some changes must have taken place in a period of 18 years? And maybe, with him it is also a way of escaping from his dysfunctional marriage because there seems to be not much sympathy lost between him and his wife. As I have already said, however, the novel only really intrigued me until its solution began to emerge from the shades of mystery – a solution which fell flat for me. Dick even spoilt it a bit more with his ending: While the beginning of the novel reminded me of one of the finest movies ever, its ending called to mind one of the ribaldries of The Naked Gun. That’s quite an elevator ride – into the wrong direction.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jandrok

    Philip K. Dick is not a very good writer in a mechanical sense. His characters are not often fully developed, his sentence structure can be simplistic, and he has an annoying tendency to drop plot points at the drop of a hat. And this same scenario always seems to play out for me whenever I pick up a Dick book: I start out feeling like I’m reading some sort of mediocre fanfiction written by someone living in a basement somewhere. But then at some juncture I get caught up in the story and realize Philip K. Dick is not a very good writer in a mechanical sense. His characters are not often fully developed, his sentence structure can be simplistic, and he has an annoying tendency to drop plot points at the drop of a hat. And this same scenario always seems to play out for me whenever I pick up a Dick book: I start out feeling like I’m reading some sort of mediocre fanfiction written by someone living in a basement somewhere. But then at some juncture I get caught up in the story and realize that things are not as bad as I initially thought. Then about three-quarters of the way through I’m starting to think that this might actually be pretty good. By the end I’m usually trying to find the pieces of my blown mind, realizing that I have just read something that transcends the usual ideas of what constitutes “good” and “bad” writing. This is Philip K. Dick’s strength and the secret of his powers as an author. A thousand monkeys hammering away at a thousand typewriters could eventually mimic Dick’s often clunky prose, but those simians could never in a million years come up with some of the grand, outrageous, and psychedelic ideas that percolated in PKD’s fevered brain. Dick aficionados, or Dickheads as they like to be called, know exactly what I am talking about. The man was a genius, yes, but a very flawed genius at best. Dick’s battles with mental instability are well documented, and I won’t go into them deeply here. Suffice to say that I truly believe that his inability to separate objective and subjective reality and his lifelong search for answers within the metaphysical both influenced and informed his best work. That he was able to translate some of those experiences and visions to the written word is one of the great triumphs of speculative fiction, as it has blessed us with some occasionally brilliant literature. You can read more about Dick’s life and his legacy on his Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_... So based on what I have written above, I have some bad news and some good news about “The Cosmic Puppets,” a novelette that Dick originally wrote as “A Glass of Darkness” for the Satellite Science Fiction digest back in 1956. “A Glass of Darkness” was then revised and retitled as “The Cosmic Puppets” and re-released as part of the Ace “Doubles” series in 1957, paired with Andre Norton’s “Sargasso of Space.” I have a 1983 Berkley Books reprint of “The Cosmic Puppets.” So the bad news is that this book is kind of like PKD lite, a sort of starter kit for what would eventually develop into the full-blown maniac of his later years. It’s short, it’s full of potholes, it’s firmly in the tradition of 1950s pulp sci-fi tropes, and it only touches on a few of the grander ideas in the PKD canon. In short, it’s a Ray Bradbury novel without Bradbury’s sublime command of the English language and plot structure. The good news is that it is still a PKD novel, and the second half of the book redeems itself nicely from the somewhat dicey first half. It begins as your standard “Twilight Zone” episode. New York City insurance salesman Ted Barton is on vacation with his wife Peg when he suddenly decides to detour off of the main road to visit the rural Virginia town of Millgate where he grew up. His trip into nostalgia is not quite what he was expecting. It seems that the Millgate that he is now experiencing isn’t the same Millgate that he remembers. The buildings are different, the people are different, and none of the shops or street names are the same as when he lived there as a child. A trip to the local library for research is even more shocking, as it turns out that the child named Ted Barton born in Millgate back in the day died of scarlet fever. But that can’t be, because he is Ted Barton…...or is he? Ted jettisons his wife Peg to an out of town hotel and rents a room at the local boarding house, determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. None of the town’s current residents recognizes him, though the local physician seems to remember Ted’s death from scarlet fever. To add to the confusion, Ted seems to see luminous ghosts at night. The kicker here is that EVERYONE can see them and accept them as a normal part of everyday life. Obviously, things ain’t quite right in Millgate. Ted is also approached by a mysterious teenager named Peter, who seems to know a lot more about the strange goings on than he is letting on. Peter has an odd set of powers that enable him to make golems out of clay figures and control spiders. Then there is also Mary, the young daughter of the aforementioned local physician, who has her OWN set of unusual friends, starting with the talking bees…… Man, I’m terrible at writing a synopsis. But you get the drift here. What begins as a more or less standard and linear plot slowly descends into madness as Dick adds additional layers of craziness at an almost breakneck pace. By the time you realize that the small town of Millgate is actually the battleground for two Zoroastrian gods it’s too late. At that point you have been sucked into this surreal world and your only hope is to get to the end to see how the whole thing turns out. “The Cosmic Puppets” is good early PKD, and you can see him setting the stage here for the opus magnums that were to come later in his career. The shades between objective and subjective reality that are hallmarks of Dick’s style are here, even if they are a bit less subtle and a bit more two-dimensional than is typical of his future work. I can forgive PKD his rudimentary writing style here because his main ideas are so big. Like cosmic level big. God size big. And I’ll even forgive PKD for eventually devolving into a more or less standard treatise on Manichaeism here. Dick will go on to explore much more diverse philosophical and moral issues in books and short stories to come. “The Cosmic Puppets” is all about the central battle between good and evil, and it pretty much hits its target in terms of what it was trying to do in the context of its era and supposed audience. This is strictly entry-level Philip K. Dick, and you would not do yourself wrong if you used this as a jumping off point for a journey into his oeuvre. “The Cosmic Puppets” is a quick read. You can knock this sucker out in a couple of hours, or you can take the long road like I did and compartmentalize it into several days. It’s strictly 3-star stuff no matter how I slice it. It’s above a lot of the pulp that came out in 1957, but as far as Dick’s overall work is concerned, it’s just sort of okay. It’s fun and interesting, and even more so in light of where Dick would eventually take these rudimentary ideas, but it’s also not very well written. It really is like watching a good but not great episode of “Twilight Zone” or “The Outer Limits.” Short, shocking, and sweet, but you’re probably not going to remember a whole lot of it the next day. That said, “The Cosmic Puppets” is still essential PKD for Dickheads and aspiring Dickheads. You have to read just about everything the man wrote in order to get a clear picture of this disturbed and disturbing genius. Go. Shoo. Get after it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jorge

    While not among PKD's best, this is a fairly decent read. It combines several of his perennial obsessions: alternate realities, uncertain identities and Manichaeism. Another frequent obsession here seems to be ... uh ... boobs. PKD takes the time to mention just about every female character's breasts. They almost seem to have an active life of their own: sweating, heaving, glowing and sometimes just being "thick." I wasn't sure if PKD was feeling poorly weaned when he wrote this novel, of if he While not among PKD's best, this is a fairly decent read. It combines several of his perennial obsessions: alternate realities, uncertain identities and Manichaeism. Another frequent obsession here seems to be ... uh ... boobs. PKD takes the time to mention just about every female character's breasts. They almost seem to have an active life of their own: sweating, heaving, glowing and sometimes just being "thick." I wasn't sure if PKD was feeling poorly weaned when he wrote this novel, of if he was pandering to a pulp SF audience. The final scene of the novel suggests the running mammary theme was meant to be tongue-in-cheek.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    If written today, this could have been Dick's foray into YA fantasy fiction. He would have needed to change the protagonist into a plucky teenager instead of a full-grown man, but other than that all the elements are in place. On a road trip to Florida with his almost estranged wife, Ted Barton wants to stop off at Millgate, the Virginia town he left as a young man eighteen years before, They find the town, but everything about it has changed. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme music here.) Street nam If written today, this could have been Dick's foray into YA fantasy fiction. He would have needed to change the protagonist into a plucky teenager instead of a full-grown man, but other than that all the elements are in place. On a road trip to Florida with his almost estranged wife, Ted Barton wants to stop off at Millgate, the Virginia town he left as a young man eighteen years before, They find the town, but everything about it has changed. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme music here.) Street names, buildings, people, everything is different and slightly decrepit. Then Ted finds his name in an old newspaper, a victim of scarlet fever in 1935. The Cosmic Puppets is pure fantasy -- no science fiction involved. There are two children, Peter who makes tiny clay golems to report of Ted's movements, and Mary who gets regular reports from moths and bees on Peter's activities. Mary and Peter do not get along. Peter reveals to Ted the enormous beings who make up the valley's mountainsides and whose heads reach into the heavens. Little Millgate, Virginia, has become the host of an epic battle between the forces of good and evil. (Just their bum luck.) Ted and the town drunk who somehow escaped "the change" have to will the real Millgate back into existence. There are some creepy elements here, mostly dependent upon how you feel about spiders and rats. But the Twilight Zone theme continues to hum along in the background, and Rod Serling could make an appearance at any moment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hertzan Chimera

    What are Ted and Peggy Barton doing in Millgate, VA? Does the place even exist? Well, it exists in some half-forgotten form; it certainly doesn’t exist in the form that Ted Barton remembers. On his arrival in Millgate, he spends the first few hours looking for shops that no longer exist on streets that no longer exist, parks that no longer exist and people who no longer exist - not people who have died, but people who have never lived. There’s strong speculation from the inhabitants of Millgate t What are Ted and Peggy Barton doing in Millgate, VA? Does the place even exist? Well, it exists in some half-forgotten form; it certainly doesn’t exist in the form that Ted Barton remembers. On his arrival in Millgate, he spends the first few hours looking for shops that no longer exist on streets that no longer exist, parks that no longer exist and people who no longer exist - not people who have died, but people who have never lived. There’s strong speculation from the inhabitants of Millgate that Ted Barton has actually arrived in the wrong town. The Cosmic Puppets, Rats, Children and Thematic Ponderings What is theme of The Cosmic Puppets? Is it really about the magical power of children to invent (and perpetuate) worlds of their own creation? Is it resurrection of a childhood innocence destroyed by the rigors (and prejudices) of adult life? Early on throughout the narrative, misdirection from the horror that lies ahead take shape in the form of innocent children sculpting clay into figures, annoying flies and bees on one side, malevolent spider webs on the other. How these are relevant to the later narrative is truly nauseating. Rats, remember those little beauties for when you’re reading the book, they play a pivotal (and truly gruesome) role. Gruesome? But isn’t Philip K. Dick the proverbial soft sci-fi writer? A theoretical thinker of a writer, who explores alternative realities that are flavoured with drug-induced imagery, and overladen with deistic investigation? Not in this one, it’s a nasty book in many ways. There are five key figures in Philip K. Dick’s, The Cosmic Puppets: The Town of Millgate It took a long and convoluted series of mishaps to enable Ted Barton’s entry into Millgate and it will take a lot more concerted efforts before he is ever allowed to leave. Millgate is a place Ted Barton remembers so well because he was born there, spending the first nine years of his life in this sleepy backwater. It holds many memories for him, and this is the key to later narrative unravellings. No one in Millgate believes Barton’s implausible story, and the more he gets the layout of the town wrong (like where is the park he remembers playing on as a kid but the inhabitants of Millgate swear never existed?) the less likely his Prodigal Son of Millgate scenario becomes. Ted Barton resorts to archival research of Millgate at the local newspaper where he discovers that a child bearing his name died at the age of nine of scarlet fever on the date the real Ted Barton left the town. The Children of Millgate Mary Meade controls the moths and bees. Peter Schilling controls the spiders and the golems. Are they really two sides of an intergalactic civil war? Doctor Meade, Mary’s Father Doctor Meade looks after the health of the Millgatians - because this is such a weird and invented alien town, I feel justified with my invention of Millgatians to describe the ’sleeping’ inhabitants of this wild-ride town. It’s not that they’re really sleeping, either, it’s more like their covered in dust, ripe for a Spring clean, like the whole town. Like there’s a more real town underneath the old crumbled unreal one. It’s Dr Meade who, in the dying throes of the novel, brings Millgate to the edge of oblivion or salvation, an intergalactic relevance neither he nor the children nor Ted Barton himself could have possibly imagined. The Wanderers The Wanderers, spectral entities who wander through the walls and doors of Millgate, their eyes squeezed shut, are the old inhabitants of Millgate who have been struggling to in vain for 18 years to map out the old town as it was before ‘the change’. The Valley of Millgate The valley, in which Millgate resides, is formed by two enormous galactic beings, the bright and the dark, the yin and the yang of universal power. This revelation in the later stages of the novel is not something many readers will be able to comprehend - it’s just too out there, too outlandish, too cosmic. Even the rays of the Millgate sun shudder away in shame. But it proves the genius of Dick that he gets away with it and the narrative concludes intact. The Cosmic Puppets is a throwback to happier times, for Dick, whose childhood clearly holds fonder memories for him than the drug-addled gutter-existence of the writer’s life he was living at the time and for the next 20 years, rejected by the mainstream (his non sci-fi novels were published posthumously), ripped off by publishers who could have offered ten times the advances had they seen the genius of Philip K Dick earlier on. The Cosmic Puppets Discomforts It would be an injustice to even suggest that Philip K. Dick’s writing was blatantly paedophiliac in nature but a hell of a lot of pert, young girls inhabit Dick’s invented worlds. He clearly had a thing for the young girls. Looking back at even a mainstream a novel like Mary And The Giant, we see the Joe Schilling character leering over the schoolgirls in their uniforms. And however unjustified the observation, there’s a specific scene in The Cosmic Puppets where Mary strips off and smears oil over her naked girl body to ‘appease a captured golem and not freak it out’ that is so over-the-top voyeuristic as to be the closest Dick has ever come to pushing beyond the veil of good taste. There are those reading this who’d say that to suggest Philip K. Dick was a paedo was tantamount to blasphemy, and may be even libellous, but if you think that, you may just be in denial of the evidence there lurking within his body of work. Of course Dick’s not a paedo, any sane reviewer would have to come to that conclusion. But clearly, Dick was creating invented worlds where ‘normal’ 1950s’ morality was stretched to the theoretical limit. And not only in matters of morality does Dick try to stretch out the boundaries of the acceptable. His representation of the schizophrenic night-and-day of the nature beast that haunts the valley of Millgate is another of his great attempts to universe-straddling entities with atoms the size of stars. Plus, I’m not sure of the actual connection but Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke’s roaming night/ day nature beast seems to be a direct lift from the mid section of this book, it’s stunningly accurate visual translation of the imagery in The Cosmic Puppets. Maybe it’s just a latent Gaia vibe, but personally, as I read the Dick words, I saw the Miyazaki scene of the grotesque beast flopping greasily over the hills, destroying and decaying the landscape as it moved. Maybe (as in all this subjective analysis, it’s just me)… I love Philip K. Dick’s earlier books - the more domestic, Twilight Zone or harmlessly sci-fi works. I loved Solar Lottery, I loved The Game Players of Titan, and I now love The Cosmic Puppets (late 1950s’ copyright, all three). It’s a short novel (140 pages - approximately 40- to 50,000 words) but one that every lover of horror should read, yeah, I did say horror. This is a proper small-town horror novel with some good bits of quite spaced out sci-fi in it. There are some scenes in the book that are just too gruesome and the revelatory finalé is perfect PKD at his best. It is recommended reading for all lovers of such genre-straddling goodness.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    If I read this one back in the day, it would have been this edition: http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/d/d6... I've definitely read "Sargasso of Space", which was pretty good, but have no real memory of the Dick. The Ace Doubles were widely available when I started reading this stuff, and I still have a few. Not this one. Wikipedia [CAUTION--SPOILERS]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cos... If I read this one back in the day, it would have been this edition: http://www.isfdb.org/wiki/images/d/d6... I've definitely read "Sargasso of Space", which was pretty good, but have no real memory of the Dick. The Ace Doubles were widely available when I started reading this stuff, and I still have a few. Not this one. Wikipedia [CAUTION--SPOILERS]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cos...

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Agranoff

    Very strange entry in the early PKD canon, kinda twilight zone like. starts with a Under the Dome like set but goes in a weird Cosmic horror direction. Full review in the Dickheads episode: https://soundcloud.com/dickheadspodca... Very strange entry in the early PKD canon, kinda twilight zone like. starts with a Under the Dome like set but goes in a weird Cosmic horror direction. Full review in the Dickheads episode: https://soundcloud.com/dickheadspodca...

  14. 4 out of 5

    B. Rule

    By Dickian standards, this is a pretty taut and well-written little novel about the Zoroastrian struggle undergirding reality. It's a fast read that jumps right into the action, includes a lot of intense imagery, and fundamentally feels like Dick working out some private revelation about layered realities. Of course it's great.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    This is my third experience with Philip K. Dick's writing. Others on this site, and indeed the back of the book itself, compare this one to an episode of The Twilight Zone. I think that is a very fair representation for the beginning of the book, it certainly does feel like a Twilight Zone set-up. Then it turns into something much, much harder to describe. Part horror, fantasy, science fiction... maybe more? It can't be explained without major spoilers, and even then I'm not sure it can be prope This is my third experience with Philip K. Dick's writing. Others on this site, and indeed the back of the book itself, compare this one to an episode of The Twilight Zone. I think that is a very fair representation for the beginning of the book, it certainly does feel like a Twilight Zone set-up. Then it turns into something much, much harder to describe. Part horror, fantasy, science fiction... maybe more? It can't be explained without major spoilers, and even then I'm not sure it can be properly put to words. This book is not an amazing story by any means, but it is one of those books that is an experience unlike any other. It is baffling to describe, but follows a form of logic to its conclusion. One of the things I've commented on in other reviews of Dick's books is that the man was not afraid to try something different. Sometimes he overloads his story with so many ideas (such as in Clans of the Alphane Moon), but he seems to somehow keep it under enough control to make a story out of it. This is another one with so many ideas that it could have been multiple books (and yet he somehow keeps all these are ideas contained in under 200 pages), some of these ideas could have been explained better, but the unresolved aspect feels proper given the nature of some of the twists. Of the three books I've read (the others being Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Clans of the Alphane Moon) this one is my least favorite. I think it is a solid and entertaining read, but not as good of a story as the others. The philosophical aspects are fairly light here, and there's relatively little messing with the reader's head (well, maybe once or twice...). That said, the lack of these aspects makes this a wonderful place for a newcomer to start. It is not a difficult read from Dick, it introduces a few of his pet subjects, and which it starts off with a traditional Twilight Zone style narrative, it may be comfortably familiar at first before setting up the real plot. Not his best, but still recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    This one was …weird. I don’t know that it’s really sci-fi, which is OK, but it was …weird. Ted Barton goes back to his childhood town of Millgate. He gets there and discovers the town is completely different, he doesn’t know anyone, all the buildings and streets are different, and according to the town records, he died as a child. The book follows him through his hunt to figure out what’s going on and who he is. He teams up with a couple of kids and an old, drunk guy to set things to rights and This one was …weird. I don’t know that it’s really sci-fi, which is OK, but it was …weird. Ted Barton goes back to his childhood town of Millgate. He gets there and discovers the town is completely different, he doesn’t know anyone, all the buildings and streets are different, and according to the town records, he died as a child. The book follows him through his hunt to figure out what’s going on and who he is. He teams up with a couple of kids and an old, drunk guy to set things to rights and it gets …weird. It reads a bit like an old Twilight Zone episode. I can’t really describe any more without giving things away. It was interesting and quick, so if you’ve got a minute and are down for something …weird, give it a try but Dick has many other, better stories to choose from.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erik

    Two stars, because its ok. Ancient gods make a small rural virginia town their battleground. Sorta like a small-scale version of The Stand, with spiders. Somewhat interesting, but it all seems for nought. No real resolution on plot, no character arcs. Things happen. Its somewhat spooky. Then it ends. what stood out is the sexism/male targeting - although a novella, theres at least 5 mentions to breasts, and a particularly sexist punchline joke ending.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Denny

    I read quite a few Philip K. Dick stories and novels in my teens and liked them okay, but never as much as I liked Heinlein, Asimov, & Clarke. For the most part, I think the movies based on his works are much better than their literary sources. I may've really liked The Cosmic Puppets as a teenager if I'd read it back then because it's pretty juvenile. But man, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish this one. There were a couple of chapters that had me thinking it was just on the verge of I read quite a few Philip K. Dick stories and novels in my teens and liked them okay, but never as much as I liked Heinlein, Asimov, & Clarke. For the most part, I think the movies based on his works are much better than their literary sources. I may've really liked The Cosmic Puppets as a teenager if I'd read it back then because it's pretty juvenile. But man, I had a hard time convincing myself to finish this one. There were a couple of chapters that had me thinking it was just on the verge of turning into a good story, but nope! The narrative doesn't hold up under the weight of its inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and abandoned plot elements. To make matters worse, narrator Nick Podehl has a voice like a kazoo and read the story as if it were the script of a Saturday morning kids' cartoon.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Davide Nole

    Again, not the best, nor the worst of PKD's novels. The book deals with the usual themes in the author's backpack, which is the idea of divinity and the comparison between mankind and what's above it. It's done in a more subtle way than usually PKD does, and that's something I did not quite enjoy. I think the book carries the marks of its predecessor (Dr. Futurity) and it's sort of an attempt of the author to redeem the plot of the previous book, trying to set it in motion in a very different way. Again, not the best, nor the worst of PKD's novels. The book deals with the usual themes in the author's backpack, which is the idea of divinity and the comparison between mankind and what's above it. It's done in a more subtle way than usually PKD does, and that's something I did not quite enjoy. I think the book carries the marks of its predecessor (Dr. Futurity) and it's sort of an attempt of the author to redeem the plot of the previous book, trying to set it in motion in a very different way. I must say that, at least for me, this attempt was really useless and it did nothing but obscure a book that could have been written in a better way and with some deeper understanding and analysis of the themes (I am being very critical because, having read a huge pack of PKD's novels and short stories, I know he can do better than that).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    I will admit its been a while since I have read any Philip K Dick (PKD) and I guess I had forgotten how much fun (and strange) his work can be. Even more so when you consider this book was originally written in the late 50s. Dont get me wrong - I think his work has an amazing ability to portray small American towns - or at least paint vivid pictures of them (having never experienced them for myself) - in one paragraph it feels like I am reading an ageing national Geographical edition and then ne I will admit its been a while since I have read any Philip K Dick (PKD) and I guess I had forgotten how much fun (and strange) his work can be. Even more so when you consider this book was originally written in the late 50s. Dont get me wrong - I think his work has an amazing ability to portray small American towns - or at least paint vivid pictures of them (having never experienced them for myself) - in one paragraph it feels like I am reading an ageing national Geographical edition and then next I am lost to a world of fantasy and warring gods. There is something no one can challenge, that Mr Dick had an amazing imagination and thankfully he put it to the task of telling stories. More often than not you can start to see where a book is heading, by title, cover image or even by the authors style who wrote it, but with the works of Philip K Dick that is a dangerous assumption you more often than not get totally wrong. HIs works sometimes are not the easiest to read but they are certainly some of the most colourful

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    Even though I enjoyed this enough to read the whole story and I liked the way the concept was delivered (a concept that has been used time and time again) there were some things that irked me. For starters the writing style I found to be frustrating, lacking proper description and fluidity. Then there is the fact that the main character accepted certain reasons behind what was going on so quickly. I honestly can't accept that any rational human being however open minded could accept something so o Even though I enjoyed this enough to read the whole story and I liked the way the concept was delivered (a concept that has been used time and time again) there were some things that irked me. For starters the writing style I found to be frustrating, lacking proper description and fluidity. Then there is the fact that the main character accepted certain reasons behind what was going on so quickly. I honestly can't accept that any rational human being however open minded could accept something so out there so readily. Yes I'm aware that this is a science fiction novel and pure fantasy but still there should always be a touch of rationalism to a story no matter how far fetched. Add to that, that no one attempted to ship the character off to a nut house or question his sanity more closely and the rushed ending and well you've got yourself a story that could have done quite well but was written by someone who gave the impression of being lazy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    g026r

    A fairly straight-forward (as far as Dick goes) shorter novel that touches on a lot of Dick's more familiar themes, though perhaps a bit more shallowly than his own acclaimed work. Written in the '50s for one of Ace's double-novels and Dick's 2nd or 3rd published novel, it shows in both the prose and plot which is— schlockier, pulpier, trashier, more B-movie like, choose according to preference— than the works Dick produced once he was more established. It's enjoyable enough for what it is, but i A fairly straight-forward (as far as Dick goes) shorter novel that touches on a lot of Dick's more familiar themes, though perhaps a bit more shallowly than his own acclaimed work. Written in the '50s for one of Ace's double-novels and Dick's 2nd or 3rd published novel, it shows in both the prose and plot which is— schlockier, pulpier, trashier, more B-movie like, choose according to preference— than the works Dick produced once he was more established. It's enjoyable enough for what it is, but it's hardly great fare.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Viji (Bookish endeavors)

    It has been going on since the beginning of time. The battle between forces of darkness and light. That's the plot here,the battle lasting billions of years. As a part of it,an entire village is hidden and replaced by another one. And many lives get caught in that change. An interesting plot. And the part of sending God's daughter to live on earth. That's one fine twist. Altogether a wonderful read. PKD stories combine science with philosophy. It makes you see reality from different dimensions.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Gallardo

    Yet this nouvelle being one of his early and minor works, the execution of the story and the way it's told made me think of a magnum opus, a watermark of the genre. The Cosmic Puppets is filled with delightful scenes, unconventional ideas and twists -even for sci-fi, although I think this is closer to fantasy-, and such an enjoyable prose (especially at the beginning of the chapters). Unfortunately, it had also a handful of topic, dull, efectist characters, as well as the ending. I'm expecting m Yet this nouvelle being one of his early and minor works, the execution of the story and the way it's told made me think of a magnum opus, a watermark of the genre. The Cosmic Puppets is filled with delightful scenes, unconventional ideas and twists -even for sci-fi, although I think this is closer to fantasy-, and such an enjoyable prose (especially at the beginning of the chapters). Unfortunately, it had also a handful of topic, dull, efectist characters, as well as the ending. I'm expecting more Dick, hehe.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Chris S

    A'Twilight Zone'-like premise that just gets daft towards the end. Early PKD and has the usual wooden writing and characterization... but... some themes in this book are developed more successfully in later novels, so kinda interesting to see how these themes (ie: the nature of reality) are handled in this early effort.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sean Hoade

    Well, I've finally read a book by Philip K. Dick that I did not like. This seems like an attempt to write horror in the mode of Stephen King (not that SK was writing yet, so let's say Robert Bloch), but the reader (hi) thinks it's going to be a science fiction novel, so when, about halfway through, people start getting eaten alive by spiders and incredibly hokey deities show themselves, it seems even more ridiculous than it would have otherwise. Which is still pretty ridiculous. One other thing: Well, I've finally read a book by Philip K. Dick that I did not like. This seems like an attempt to write horror in the mode of Stephen King (not that SK was writing yet, so let's say Robert Bloch), but the reader (hi) thinks it's going to be a science fiction novel, so when, about halfway through, people start getting eaten alive by spiders and incredibly hokey deities show themselves, it seems even more ridiculous than it would have otherwise. Which is still pretty ridiculous. One other thing: I must say that I am OVER the intense sexism in the work of PKD. I know it was 1957 when this book was written, but JESUS CHRIST does every woman character have to get her breasts described and rated, "perky," "dewy," or -- not kidding -- "upturned"? It doesn't always bother me because see year above and is usually made in addition to the mention of some useful or at least interesting characteristic. But it is too much. It feels creepy as hell, and not in the good Blochian way.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Richard Kearney

    Dick's third science-fiction novel (composed in 1953) is in fact more of a fantasy novel, grounded in his explorations into the philosophical underpinnings of Zurvanism with its concepts of a "creative" and "destructive" spirit. In the novel, the protagonist, Ted Barton, while on a trip to the South with his wife, feels compelled to take a detour into his hometown of Millgate, Virginia, only to find himself radically disoriented by a place that bears little relation to the town of his childhood. Dick's third science-fiction novel (composed in 1953) is in fact more of a fantasy novel, grounded in his explorations into the philosophical underpinnings of Zurvanism with its concepts of a "creative" and "destructive" spirit. In the novel, the protagonist, Ted Barton, while on a trip to the South with his wife, feels compelled to take a detour into his hometown of Millgate, Virginia, only to find himself radically disoriented by a place that bears little relation to the town of his childhood. He is further horrified and intrigued to learn after consulting old issues of the town newspaper that he purportedly died as a child. Determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious transformation, Barton soon finds himself embroiled in a "cosmic" conflict between forces of good and evil embodied by two precocious children who are not what they seem. The novel features Dick's sharp intelligence, flair for dialogue, intricate plotting, and even some gruesome scenes less typical of his work. A bit of a detour from his other novels, this one is enjoyable, although probably not the place to start if you're just getting acquainted with PKD.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Owain Lewis

    Book three of the Dickathon and we're in the twilight zone. Zoroastrian deities wage a proxy war with small town 50's America as their chessboard. Classic Dickian tropes starting to emerge as things turn out not to be what they seem; false memories, ghostly goings on and pasted over realities abound. Some genuine creeps and shocks too as various animals take sides in the battle between good and evil - cats turn out to be on the good guys side obvs. Much to enjoy about this one. Dick is always, a Book three of the Dickathon and we're in the twilight zone. Zoroastrian deities wage a proxy war with small town 50's America as their chessboard. Classic Dickian tropes starting to emerge as things turn out not to be what they seem; false memories, ghostly goings on and pasted over realities abound. Some genuine creeps and shocks too as various animals take sides in the battle between good and evil - cats turn out to be on the good guys side obvs. Much to enjoy about this one. Dick is always, at the very least, entertaining.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Robin Stanley

    Wtf did I just read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mathew

    One of PKD's earliest works, and not one of his best. Still, even mediocre Dick is pretty good. If you like The Twilight Zone and Zoroastrianism, here's a book for you.

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