Tuesday, 25 February 2014

'Dr Bloodmoney' - Philip K. Dick

I used to have an old 'Sci-Fi Masterworks' copy of 'Dr Bloodmoney' but it vanished during one of the periodic book purges that I have. That's the way I roll and a couple of years later, without fail, I will always realise that I made a mistake. I found this copy at the Nine Worlds convention, last year, and I actually prefer it to the edition that I used to have. I know it's the same book but hear me out :o)
I love old books, possibly due to my getting a bit older myself and also because I like the idea of being a little part of a books history. This edition of 'Dr Bloodmoney' is ten years older than me and I reckon it will still be going long after I stop. There's also an innocent charm about a book that has a picture of a flying foetus on the front cover. I mean, you wouldn't get that nowadays would you? It makes me feel a little bit nostalgic in a strange kind of way. Not that I ever lived in a time of flying foetus' but you know what I mean, I hope :o) Enough of that though, here's the blurb.

Seven years after the day of the bombs, Point Reyes was luckier than most places. Its people were reasonably normal - except for the girl with her twin brother growing inside her, and talking to her. Their barter economy was working. Their resident genius could fix almost anything that broke down. But they didn't know they were harbouring the one man who almost everyone left alive wanted killed...

‘Dr Bloodmoney’ isn’t the book that you think it is. Well, it wasn’t the book that I thought it would be; about a society trying to rebuild after a nuclear holocaust. For a start, there isn’t really an awful lot to rebuild once you get out of the cities; people are finding it hard but are getting along rather nicely actually. Is this what they call a cosy catastrophe? Could be… In any case, society in many ways seems to be better off than it was before the war.
‘Dr Bloodmoney’ is more of a book about people and how they react when they realise that it will actually take more than a nuclear war to help them resolve whatever they had going on before it started. There are some exceptions like Hoppy Harrington who finds that he is now in a position where he can affect great change, both in his life and in others, but mostly it’s the same people trying to sort out the same problems they’ve always had. It’s a novel about the therapeutic process and how, ultimately, it’s up to you to sort your own stuff out if you want to move on. Dick really goes into some depth with his characters in this respect and works through their problems in such a way that we’re fully aware of just what is going on.

‘Dr Bloodmoney’ isn’t just a novel about therapy either. It’s a book that really makes you question the world that the book takes place in and the abilities of the people living there. Is Dr Bluthgeld ill or did he really start the bombs falling with the power of his mind? Was Hoppy bitter anyway or did the world make him so? Dick leaves a lot of things unanswered and he makes them questions that stick with the reader (well, this reader) for a long time after putting the book down. It’s a book that makes you question the nature of this reality; don’t be surprised if you don’t have any answers at the end of it, just the same questions.

I wasn’t so keen on the anti-climactic ending (which happens off screen and then is explained away) but, on the whole, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’ is a very intelligent and thought provoking piece of science fiction that I would say deserves to be included in the ‘Masterworks’ series. I haven’t said all that I want to say about it but had the feeling that if I kept putting this review off then it would never be written (there’s so much to say and consider in these pages).
I think there’s a new ‘Sci-Fi Masterworks’ edition that has been released, do yourself a favour and grab a copy.

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