In an ongoing series of elaborate plans to force science fiction onto
Belle's friends, I suggested Philip K. Dick's Ubik to the book club
this month. After we all got done snickering about his last name, the
suggestion was accepted. It's a short read, and I finished it this
weekend. If anyone would like to participate from home, I'd like to
propose the following helpful discussion questions:
- Who's dead, and who is alive at the end of the book? This is not a
- What is Ubik? What's the significance of its name? And why does each
chapter begin with a short advertising blurb, in which Ubik takes the
place of any number of other commodities?
- How does that tie in to the other commercial aspects of Ubik's
setting, such as the need to pay for opening doors, using television sets,
or other mundane appliances?
- This book was recently chosen as one of Time's 100 best novels of all
time. I'm not sure I have a question for that, I just think it's kind of
- There are at least two binaries at work here in the book--the first
being the company of psychics run by Hollis versus Runciter's anti-psychic
"prudence" organization. What other binaries or opposing forces do you
see, and what do they represent?
- Themes of surveillance, godhood (either malevolent or ambivalent),
and alternate realities (including hallucinations) make repeated
appearances in Dick's fiction. What do you make of these themes in
- You may find it useful to read Wikipedia's entry on Philip K. Dick.
Having done so, does this change your perception of the book?
Book club members may also use the comment space to castigate me for my
oddities in taste, and to publicly state that I am never allowed to choose
our readings again.