You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The World Jones MadeThe World Jones Made by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dick published this one in 1956 and didn't give "life as we know it" much time. A devastating world war breaks out in the 1970's, but humankind proves remarkably resilient. By the mid 1990's, when the story begins, we are already zipping around town in airborne taxis and traveling cross country in the matter of an hour or so. You may live in Detroit but you party in San Francisco. "Relativity" is the accepted philosophy of the day, and I found it one of Dick's vaguer concepts. People can not only do most anything they want, but they must let others do so as well, and they cannot, under any circumstances, express a belief in anything. This live and let live code must be enforced by an elaborate security police force, and Cussick, the central character, is on the force.

Jones threatens this world because he is a prophet, able to see into the future for up to one year. This means that the future is known, it is a sure thing, and so the Relativity world will fall apart. The mob longs for Jones's message and forms a devoted following that transforms into a worldwide movement. He can't be stopped because he already knows every move that will be made against him. Cussick's gorgeous Scandinavian wife aligns herself with the Jones movement and becomes a senior officer in the organization. There is a subplot concerning human mutants specially bred to survive on Venus, and an inconvenient but not very dangerous invasion of giant space amoebas that the Jones followers raucously destroy.

All of this does not make into a very coherent novel, and, for as nutty as much of it is, The World Jones Made is little downbeat for Dick. The characters, other than Jones, are exhausted and justifiably pessimistic, caught up in defending an world order they know is doomed and which they no longer really believe in. No wonder they go to night clubs and make concoctions of heroin and marijuana their first drink of the night.

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