The Philip K. Dick Collection

The Philip K. Dick Collection

I've just finished reading "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" by Philip K Dick, one of 13 novels collected in the Library of America's wonderful "The Philip K. Dick Collection" boxed set.

This story has never jumped out at me as one to read with any particular urgency, despite the title being a reference to a composition by my namesake. I was reminded about it whilst listening to one of BBC Radio 4's "Great Lives" broadcasts, where Michael Sheen read a passage from the book.

As an aside, the "Great Lives" series is a really interesting listen: I particularly enjoyed their episode on Ludwig Wittgenstein. You can get the whole series in podcast form.

Back to the book. It features Dick's trademark theme of fractured realities, perhaps more so than in many of his more well-known works such as Ubik or A Scanner Darkly. It also has much better characterisation than I expect from his writing. His female characters remain — as always — sinister, threatening, mischevious, but they are at least fleshed out. There is a lot more of an exploration of the human condition than usual. Dick wrote that the novel begun as an attempt to explore different varieties of love. I enjoyed the mystery of the weird goings-on whilst they were mysterious, but I felt mildly let down when the explanation was eventually proffered.