"The Simulacra" by Philip K. Dick
The Simulacra first saw publication in 1964. This would make it the earliest of the PKD books reviewed here, but not by much. It is also the fourteenth of his novels that I have read.
After this, I really need a break from PKD. One can only indulge in so much paranoia. Or... is that what they want me to think?
Whichever it is, the plot of The Simulacra revolves around the concept of totalitarianism, or the fact that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Something like that, anyway. There's also a time-travel motif in there, one guy has a pet alien, and there are a bunch of androids (simulacra) running around. This book resembles The Man in the High Castle, and could be viewed as a continuation of that award-winning book.
And even though PKD would disagree with me (I believe he considered The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch to be his most "vital" book), I liked this one a lot better. I can see how the ambiguity of Palmer Eldritch was more in line with his literary aspirations, but The Simulacra is, in my opinion, a much more straight-forward, well crafted work of science fiction. It's not my favorite of PKD's books - not even close - but it was well thought out and well worth reading.
With this in mind, I'd like to now summarize everything that I've learned from the four PKD novels reviewed on this blog so far.
1. Almost nothing is as it seems.
2. Everyone is working against you.
3. Everything might be as it seems.
4. Nobody cares about you.
5. Women are evil.
6. Time travel is destructive.
7. Women are less evil than men.
8. Time travel is productive.
9. Evil is absolute.
10. God is everywhere.
And if you can make sense out of that, you've probably read as much PKD as I have!