Posted by: Andy | August 15, 2006

book semi-review: Radio Free Albemuth

Radio Free Albemuth

Published after Dick’s death, I found this a nice kind of endcap for his career. The manuscript for what became RFA was in possession of one of Dick’s friends (Tim Powers I think) and then published after his death for whatever reason. It tailed in nicely what he had been doing with the Valis semi-trilogy: Valis, The Divine Invasion & The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. The bond was most prevalent btw RFA & Valis, in many ways they are the same book, definitely similar situations are almost directly re-used. Which makes sense because it was (according to Wiki) re-written to become Valis due to some editorial concerns. Surprisingly, all the similarities did not annoy me at all, but rather just enhanced the two-sides-of-the-same-coin type interaction between the two works.

The bonds with the other pieces of the so called “Valis Trilogy” are much less evident, and limited primarily to the thematic issues. Divine Invasion is supposed to be set in the same world, but obvious sci-fi angles, and so must be set in a later time if it is in the same world. The world in Archer, on the other hand, is much more personal and grounded – although it did appear to be set in roughly the same reality that Valis was, and does reference the Valis movie.

The Valis movie-within-a-book is one of the points of synergy for me, as the plot in the movie is very similar to what happens in RFA, although with a very different outcome. The action in RFA seems to be an unglamorized version of the Valis-movie plot, but with a very different ending.. It doesn’t match completely, but subliminally it does in many ways. It’s sort of like the other side of the Valis zipper – together you get to prevent your undergarments (or happy fun genitals if you don’t wear anything there!) from exposure. In a literary sense…whatever that metaphor means.

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