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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

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1 review about Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Fascinating and Unique Dystopian Fantasy

  • Nov 29, 2012
  • by
Phillip K. Dick is known for his idiosyncratic sci-fi novels and short stories, and "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" touches upon many of his recurring themes - artificially enhanced humans, the malleability of personal identity, the fluidity of reality, and the suppressive state control. The plot centers on Jason Taverner, a genetically modified celebrity pop singer. After being assaulted by his ex-lover by a parasitic lifeform he wakes up one morning only to discover that no one recognizes him and there is no record of him in any of the vast databases of the powerful police state that he lives in. He quickly learns how perilous life without being officially recognized can be in this dystopian future America that has gone through a second civil war. The National Guard ("nats") and the US police force ("pols") are practically at every corner of every major city and they strictly control movements of people and goods. The US is a dictatorship with a "Director" at the top, college students are forced into underground and had become a form of resistance to this oppressive regime. Taverner has been put into an uncomfortable position of having to find his way through this nightmarish maze, and for the first time in his life he realizes what life must be for the ordinary citizens. The story verges on political satire, but Dick takes the narrative very seriously, and if there has been any intention on his part of making this even mildly a humorous novel it has entirely been lost on me.

The title of this book is a reference to "Flow my tears," a piece by the 16th century composer John Dowland. However, it escapes me what this reference was meant to convey. Knowing the way that Philip K. Dick strings his themes it would not surprise me if this was just and exercise in obscurantism, or if he just liked the way it mashed with the rest of the title.

Philip K. Dick was not known for an elegant or literary style, and this book is no exception. The writing is definitely smoother than in some of his earlier works, but Dick writes in straightforward, matter-of-fact, sentences that leave very little to the imagination. The ambiguities arise mostly due to the narrative's choppiness, loose stringing of themes and events, and an occasional complete non-sequitour. However, it is precisely this rawness of writing coupled with an inimitable imagination and social criticism that has garnered Philip K. Dick a huge following and a status as one of the most important science fiction writers of all time. This book is very representative of his writing, and whether you are new to it or are a long-time fan you will find "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" to be a very unusual and fascinating work.

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