Sunday, October 22, 2006

Science Fiction - "A Scanner Darkly"

"A Scanner Darkly" is another Philip K. Dick book. It is a book about drug culture in Dick's future. Since he wrote the book in the 70s, the action was supposed to take place in the 90s. In this future the drug that is most common is called "Substance D" - where "D" is short for "Death". The main character of the book a drug dealer named Bob Arctor, who also happens to be an undercover drug agent named Fred.

In order to maintain their cover, the agents wears a "scramble suit" that disguises his identity when the visits the police station to file their reports. In a typical Dick-sian twist Fred is assigned to track the doings of Bob Arctor. Part of this survaillance involves installation of holographic scanners in Arctor's house and then recording and reviewing what happens.

At some point in all this Arctor/Fred takes a large dose of Substance D. This has the effect of similar to having a split brain - where the two halves of the brain do not communicate (as in epilepsy patients whose corpus collossum has been cut).

Ultimately, Bob/Fred is unable to deal with the drug addition/survaillance and is sent to rehab place where the source of Substance D is finally exposed.

I had trouble finishing this book. Although it was at times funny and had interesting descriptions of what having a split brain may feel like, it did not hold my interest. I could not figure out where the story was going and I didn't really care. On the other hand I hear the movie was pretty good and I'm planning to see it.


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