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Book 11: Galactic Pot Healer

December 13, 2009

Galactic Pot Healer, by Phillip K Dick (1969)

Joe Fernwright fixes ceramic pots in a futuristic Cleveland where the Orwellian government imposes upon thoughts as well as actions.  His life is highlighted by a game he plays with a computer translator, typing in the titles of books in another language and seeing how they are translated.

For example:   “The male offspring in addition gets out of bed”

answer…The Sun Also Rises

He spends so much time on this game because plastic has outdated ceramics and his living is limited.  That is until one day when he receives a message floating in the toilet, telling him that he is urgently needed to perform his vocation on a far away planet.  He is called upon by a large entity native to the far away land called a Glimmung to resurrect, along with many other kinds of experts, an ancient temple from the ocean floor of the planet.

At first glance, the story seems odd.  It most definitely is.  It is truly an off the wall story that only Dick could dream up.  It was written in the late 60’s, where Dick wrote a series of novels revolving around the idea of God and religion.  This book touches upon that subject in 2 ways: 1 being the Glimmung and how it is very strong and powerful and seen as a God by many but in reality is not.  This spurns a conversation in the novel where God is described to have 3 major attributes, all knowing, all powerful, and immortal.  None of these describes Glimmung, though the large being does seem to have control over the fate of everybody in the novel.

What is interesting about the novel though, is how Joe, the pot healer, is aware of his own destiny, or so he thinks, the entire time, constantly being reminded of his past, present, and future.  A book exists on this far away planet written by a species of rat like creatures that is basically an up to date telling of everything, with alterations being performed to the text daily.  Through this, the plot of the novel stays staccato, constantly altering with newly read revelations about how the fate of the project or the life of another rests in the hands of someone else.

Fatalism is the word of the day here: where characters don’t have a clear sense of free will, or don’t believe it exists in the first place, starting an endless debate on what to do next, until actions can somehow be deemed free and/or acceptance over resistance is drummed up to put and end to the issue at hand.

Anyway, I liked the book, it is the funniest of Dick’s novels that I have read.  It is short, sweet, and sure to get creative juices flowing because the science as well as the fiction is pretty out there in this one.

I liked the book, it is the funniest of Dick’s novels that I have read.  It is short, sweet, and sure to get creative juices flowing because the science as well as the fiction is pretty out there in this one.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2009 12:38 am

    i love pkd!!

    recently read maze of death.

    my favorite pkd books are ubik and the three stigmata of Palmer Eldridge

    check em out

    • December 14, 2009 6:18 am

      i’ve read three stigmata and Ubik is on my list. This book (Galactic Pot Healer) is right up your alley if you havent read it yet. Way out there.

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