A Scanner Darkly gets an excellent audio treatment. Review by S.K. Slevinski

Book Cover

On Audio
Audio productions of Philip K. Dick novels are much too rare, and so this recent treatment of A Scanner Darkly is a most welcome addition to any science fiction audio library. In this novel Dick imagines a future where advances in technology have created drugs that are deadly addictive and surveillance techniques that allow agents to go more deeply undercover in infiltrating drug rings. For one agent, however, the complications of his identity masking technologies and drug use have created a unique dilemma—he's both the agent and the man he's hunting. As his world collapses on itself, Bob Arctor doesn't know who to trust or how to tell hallucination from reality.

Book Cover

In Print
Philip K. Dick's futuristic incarnation of sixties drug culture paints a vivid portrait of a lifestyle that turned from seemingly harmless to wickedly dangerous. Among the classic science fiction authors, Dick stands apart by reliably giving his readers a realistic vision and by avoiding dystopian cliché and sticking with fresh forms. I'm always reluctant to give my personal opinions on classic novels because any assessment from me is likely to have little effect on anyone's reception of such an established work. However, while I would rather read this novel any day over the dystopian standards, the story dwelt a bit much for my taste on experience of drug culture. Not a terrible thing, but listening to the audiobook of this novel often felt more like listening to my writing professors reminisce about their acid trips than listening to a story. Generally, though, the audiobook is quite well done and engagingly read by Paul Giamatti.

Fans of Philip K. Dick, and audiobook readers interested in giving his work a try would be well-served in picking up an edition of this book on CD.

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S.K. Slevinski is senior editor for ARWZ Literary Magazine and a long time reader of alternative reality fiction. She is currently a graduate student, specializing in folklore.