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The Crack in Space

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In The Crack in Space, a repairman discovers that a hole in a faulty Jifi-scuttler leads to a parallel world. Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black president of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen; Tito Cravelli, a shadowy private detective, wants to know why Dr Lu In The Crack in Space, a repairman discovers that a hole in a faulty Jifi-scuttler leads to a parallel world. Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black president of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen; Tito Cravelli, a shadowy private detective, wants to know why Dr Lurton Sands is hiding his mistress on the planet; billionaire mutant George Walt wants to make the empty world all his own. But when the other earth turns out to be inhabited, everything changes. Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves.


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In The Crack in Space, a repairman discovers that a hole in a faulty Jifi-scuttler leads to a parallel world. Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black president of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen; Tito Cravelli, a shadowy private detective, wants to know why Dr Lu In The Crack in Space, a repairman discovers that a hole in a faulty Jifi-scuttler leads to a parallel world. Jim Briskin, campaigning to be the first black president of the United States, thinks alter-Earth is the solution to the chronic overpopulation that has seventy million people cryogenically frozen; Tito Cravelli, a shadowy private detective, wants to know why Dr Lurton Sands is hiding his mistress on the planet; billionaire mutant George Walt wants to make the empty world all his own. But when the other earth turns out to be inhabited, everything changes. Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utilizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves.

30 review for The Crack in Space

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lyn

    The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick deals with social and political issues, especially racial issues. I wrote a review of Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein where the grandmaster explored elements of racism. True, both writers go about the business clumsily and with not a small bit of racism themselves, but I would remind a gentle twenty-first century reader that these writers put their thoughts down in the 1960s and the effort was courageous in and of itself. This also examines sexual, m The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick deals with social and political issues, especially racial issues. I wrote a review of Farnham's Freehold by Robert A. Heinlein where the grandmaster explored elements of racism. True, both writers go about the business clumsily and with not a small bit of racism themselves, but I would remind a gentle twenty-first century reader that these writers put their thoughts down in the 1960s and the effort was courageous in and of itself. This also examines sexual, moral and ethical issues as they affect overpopulation, prostitution, marriage and political organizations. The first part sets up a future world plagued by overpopulation and political apathy, the second part, where Dick’s genius really comes out, is where a portal to an alternate world is discovered. An obvious relief for the overcrowding problems, the portal is unfortunately, already inhabited. References to North American colonization by Europeans, and an exploration of the morality of such an emigration ensues, but only the way PKD could write it, with a hefty portion of hilarious political cynicism. Dick also uses the planned emigration as a twisted metaphor for racial prejudice. I read a Heinlein short story where each person had a chance to have their own alternate universe home, all connected together by portals back to a common earth. Also, the Hugo award wining Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer explores this same phenomena and may well have been inspired by this 1966 PKD novel. The ending was a little skewed, and the novel as a whole was inconsistent, but all in all this is a good PKD adventure: PKD readers will enjoy the orbiting brothel owned by a one headed Siamese twin with two bodies.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Randy

    In a future, overpopulated world, a technician discovers a portal to an alternative earth. Jim Briskin (campaigning to be the first black president) sees settling this alternative world as solution to the problem of the seventy-or-so million cryogenically suspended people warehoused throughout the country. Called ‘bibs’, they have chosen to sleep until the world’s population problem can be resolved. The dominant hominid on this alt-earth it turns out is “Peking Man”—it appears as though evolutio In a future, overpopulated world, a technician discovers a portal to an alternative earth. Jim Briskin (campaigning to be the first black president) sees settling this alternative world as solution to the problem of the seventy-or-so million cryogenically suspended people warehoused throughout the country. Called ‘bibs’, they have chosen to sleep until the world’s population problem can be resolved. The dominant hominid on this alt-earth it turns out is “Peking Man”—it appears as though evolution in this world diverges sharply with the known earth. Regardless, plans to colonize are set in motion, only Briskin and the rest of the world find they are up against more than they bargained for. Dick’s work, I find, is at once completely immersive, haphazard, and packed with ideas to the point of diffusion. The narrative unfolds through a jumpy third-person POV and touches immediately on themes of overpopulation, race relations, and organ harvesting all stewed together with the mundanities of politics, divorce, and (of all things) vehicle repair. And always under all of this the question: How well do reality and our assumptions about reality match up? These elements come together a bit uneasily and often not at all. Dr. Lurton Sands’s harvesting of organs from helpless and unsuspecting ‘bibs’ for example, is only nominally dealt with. Ditto with the true scope of the endemic problems that must certainly be troubling society given that people are choosing to be frozen rather than live in the world as it currently is in the novel. You get the sense that employment is an issue. What about food? Living space? How’s the real estate market in the 21st century? Of the elements presented, it is race relations that are most acutely portrayed. Humans apprehend the most minor physical differences and react to them. However, when the Peke’s invade, they see only Homo sapiens. Even George Walt, the most different of them all, turns out to be only (and disappointingly) human. In Dick’s world, humans are united under an umbrella of optimism, curiosity, irrational fear, and hubris and thus, in a sense, racial tension is part and parcel to being a card carrying member of the brotherhood of man. The book is packed with ideas and Dick manages to move the story along without dwelling on a ton of explication. The narrative is brisk and assured. The downside to all the ideas and lack of explication is the novel feels jumbled and unfocused. Too much dialog, too many characters and a lack of clear characterization. The under-explanation makes the novel a bit undernourished, though its imaginative bones give it just enough form to make it readable. I might have liked Dick to take more time, let the novel breathe a little. He might also have been better off introducing a fraction of the characters that he did or maintaining a single point of view. Still, I feel that Dick succeeded in holding a mirror to our oft-disappointing humanity: our irrational prejudices, our stunning hubris. It seemed very plausible for even a well-intentioned person like Jim Briskin to rationalize colonizing a planet belonging to the under-evolved Pekes (even moving them around their own planet) in order to serve the interests of humanity.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    Although he displayed remarkable prescience in many of his books, cult author Philip K. Dick was a good 72 years off the mark in his 18th sci-fi novel, "The Crack in Space." Originally released as a 40-cent Ace paperback in 1966 (F-377, for all you collectors out there), the novel takes place against the backdrop of the 2080 U.S. presidential election, in which a black man, Jim Briskin, of the Republican-Liberal party, is poised to become the country's first black president. (Dick must have like Although he displayed remarkable prescience in many of his books, cult author Philip K. Dick was a good 72 years off the mark in his 18th sci-fi novel, "The Crack in Space." Originally released as a 40-cent Ace paperback in 1966 (F-377, for all you collectors out there), the novel takes place against the backdrop of the 2080 U.S. presidential election, in which a black man, Jim Briskin, of the Republican-Liberal party, is poised to become the country's first black president. (Dick must have liked the name "Jim Briskin"; in his then-unpublished, non-sci-fi, mainstream novel from the mid-'50s, "The Broken Bubble," Jim Briskin is the name of a DJ in San Francisco!) Unlike Barack Obama, whose campaigning centered around the issues of war, economic crisis and health care, Briskin's talking points are a staggering overpopulation problem, the issue of what to do with the "bibs" (100 million frozen citizens awaiting their thaw in a better day), and the shutting down of the Golden Door Moments of Bliss satellite, an orbiting brothel housing no less than 5,000 women. When a door to a parallel Earth is discovered in the wall of a defective Jiffi-scuttler (a tubular device for instantaneous transportation from place to place), Briskin feels confident that he finally has a solution as to where to dump all those bibs. But problems loom, when an exploration team discovers that this parallel Earth is not vacant, but rather peopled by...well, perhaps I'd better not say. Filled with a typically large Dickian cast of characters (38 named characters are featured...15 of them in just the first 10 pages!), "The Crack in Space" is a very swift-moving vision of the future. With the use of jetcabs, men and women in this book flit from city to city like you might commute to work; indeed, one potential assassin flies from Reno to Chicago while Briskin is delivering a speech! As in many other Dick novels, divorce is featured (Dick himself was married five times) and some truly outre characters are presented. Most memorable here is George Walt, the owner of the Golden Door satellite: a one-headed, two-bodied mutant who constantly bickers with himself. Dick presents a future here in which abortions are legal and paid for by the government (and this was written a good seven years before Roe v. Wade was settled); the only coffee that is consumed (except by the lowest classes) is the "nontoxic," synthetic kind; and political parties, under the ruling of the Tompkins Act, are allowed to jam the transmissions of the opposing party. It is a typically nutty Dick world, for the most part, in which Briskin's campaign manager voices some very PC words on Dick's behalf. Thinking about the people found on the parallel Earth, Sal Heim ponders "the difference between say myself and the average Negro is so damn slight, by every truly meaningful criterion, that for all intents and purposes it doesn't exist." Again, a pretty right-on sentiment for 1966, and one which makes the book praiseworthy in its own right. "The Crack in Space" is hardly a perfect work. Fast paced and entertaining as it is, and filled with colorful characters, bursts of humor and remarkable situations, there are some problems that crop up. Several main characters (such as Myra Sands, a renowned abortionist) just kinda disappear, and the exploration of the alternate Earth (for this reader, the most fascinating and exciting segment of the book) is a bit too brief. Still, these are mere quibbles. Though this book has been pooh-poohed by some (the British critic David Pringle, in his "Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction," inexplicably calls it "a clotted Dick narrative"), I really did enjoy it very much. Let's just hope that President Obama has an easier time with his wars, economic woes and health care reforms than Jim Briskin will have with his problem of the bibs!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    The more PKD I read, and the more I learn about him and about literature theory, the more impressed I am with what he was able to accomplish, albeit mostly posthumously. Some observations: PKD was a genius, that has been stated over and over. Philosophical, imaginative, social commentary about a future that varies book to book. Common threads, sure, but all intrinsically different by a massive degree. That being said, when you really step back and take a look, his writing is SHIT. Technical shit. Re The more PKD I read, and the more I learn about him and about literature theory, the more impressed I am with what he was able to accomplish, albeit mostly posthumously. Some observations: PKD was a genius, that has been stated over and over. Philosophical, imaginative, social commentary about a future that varies book to book. Common threads, sure, but all intrinsically different by a massive degree. That being said, when you really step back and take a look, his writing is SHIT. Technical shit. Red herrings, plot holes, story lines that start and then stop suddenly, sometimes never to be revisited, the kind of stuff that really doesn't fly today with modern ideas of structure and mechanics. But he does it! And it works! So what if a character makes a hypothesis and then on the next page it's the fact of the novel and you can actually see Dick work things out as he writes. I had several of those moments while reading this one, probably the first time I've had that break with the text. But that's what I think I liked the most about this, because to a degree you really can see the man behind the curtain, you can see Dick think out "what does this mean" to Jim Briskin and how does it influence the story. Not that I didn't like the story proper, I did, but it was those moments that made me think, "This is bloody awful," that made me appreciate it all the more. And I also think I give him a certain leeway, because he is Philip K. Dick and he was a genius and he was paranoid and I have been hard pressed to find anyone that can write a story with even a fraction of the magnitude of his imagination or write one like it myself, that almost entitles him to have those plot holes and red herrings that give just that much more character to his books. If any other author were to do that, I'd quickly jump on it and tear it to pieces in true critic form: "What about this? It seemed important, but it wasn't developed" blah blah blah. Not with Dick. With Dick it's more like, "Well, now that we have a crack to a parallel-Earth that we could populate with our frozen Cols, who cares what happens to Lurton Sands?" (The fact that Lurton Sands actually makes a reappearance was impressive to me; normally that doesn't happen. Take, for example, how Myra Sands drops away completely.) Just a final thought, as it suddenly strikes me: similarities between Jim Briskin, as first colored presidential candidate, and Barrack Obama, as first colored US president.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I've read quite a few of Philip K. Dick's unique brand of science fiction over the years. A personal favourite of mine is The Man in the High Castle, which I've read 3 or 4 times. In 2017, I finished Time Out of Joint, which I enjoyed very much and now, most recently, The Crack in Space, which was quite excellent. The Crack in Space was written in 1966. The basic premise is an over-populated world, where people have the option of becoming 'Bibs'; they are cryogenically frozen, hopefully being awo I've read quite a few of Philip K. Dick's unique brand of science fiction over the years. A personal favourite of mine is The Man in the High Castle, which I've read 3 or 4 times. In 2017, I finished Time Out of Joint, which I enjoyed very much and now, most recently, The Crack in Space, which was quite excellent. The Crack in Space was written in 1966. The basic premise is an over-populated world, where people have the option of becoming 'Bibs'; they are cryogenically frozen, hopefully being awoken when there is more room on Earth or other options such as the opportunity to move to another planet if that technology is available. Jim Briskin is running for President and if he succeeds will become the first African American president of the US. A discovery is made where a crack in space presents the opportunity to relieve the overpopulation problem by letting Earth people emigrate to the planet that shows up in this crack. The question is, what's on the other side and if there is an existing population, will they allow this invasion? I found the story fascinating, with many very nice touches throughout. I did like Dick's idea of introduction of Briskin as presidential candidate. He is intelligent, thoughtful and straight-forward. (I wonder if Barack Obama ever read this story? :0)) The story, itself, moves along at a perfect pace; the characters are interesting; note George Walt, the owner of the satellite whore house, amongst others. It was a thoughtful, clear and well-crafted story and I enjoyed all of it, from beginning to end. Well worth trying if you want to explore Philip Dick's view of the future. (4 stars)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    Regular readers of Philip K Dick would not expect him to write a novel exploring social issues, but in this case that is what he seems to think he is doing. The result is a muddle of ideas that try to stay topical while medium level PKD weirdness circles around them. The setting is the late 21st century, and overpopulation, combined with a shortage of jobs, has become the major problem facing the human race. The solution has been to warehouse those who request it in suspended animation with the p Regular readers of Philip K Dick would not expect him to write a novel exploring social issues, but in this case that is what he seems to think he is doing. The result is a muddle of ideas that try to stay topical while medium level PKD weirdness circles around them. The setting is the late 21st century, and overpopulation, combined with a shortage of jobs, has become the major problem facing the human race. The solution has been to warehouse those who request it in suspended animation with the promise of awakening them when social conditions change. This is also a racial issue. "Cols" are now the majority population, and also the least employable. "Caucs" maintain the systems of government while millions of Cols become "bibs," -- the name given to those warehoused sleepers. (I never quite figured out the "bib" allusion. Also in the book are "Jerries," the older generation that can still remember the way things used to be.) It is a presidential election year, and the Republican Liberal Party candidate for the first time is a Col. Jim Briskin wants to be president and in his brilliant speeches is willing to say what he thinks the people, and the Col majority, want to here. He promises to close the warehouses and find a way to resolve the bib situation. He proposes pursuing some outdated technology called planet wetting to create habitable colonies. He will also close down Thisbe Olt's pleasure satellite The Golden Door, an orbiting brothel with thousands of working women and a enormous clientele. Thisbe's operation has been legalized as a means of keeping the population down. (Question mark. Exclamation point. WTF) None of Briskin's ideas are really feasible. Then there are the Jerry Scuttlers, devices that are intended to transport their owners anywhere they want to go. Unfortunately they have design flaws. One owner complains that his always delivers him to Portland, Oregon. A repairman, however, discovers that the machine has a rent in its fabric that delivers one to a verdant, apparently virgin land that could solve the immigration problem. So PKD has his usual half dozen plots in play, but much centers on that flawed Jerry Scuttler and the fact that Briskin may be able to come through with his promise of closing the bib warehouses, But when the new land is discovered to be a version of Terra itself that has followed a different evolutionary path than our own planet, new racial problems arise with how to treat the inhabitants there. They are not homo sapiens but intellectually capable offspring of hominid strains removed from our history. The Crack in Space has subplots that go nowhere and either resolve themselves almost as soon as they are introduced or need quick sentence summaries toward the end of the novel. Nothing about it addresses in any coherent way the social issues it raises. It is at its best when played as farce, with characters traveling the planet in their Jet Hoppers and scrambling to put together a winning presidential campaign, But it remains a muddle and, unusual for a PKD novel, manages to become somewhat dull. This despite that fact that one character is the unicephalic twin George Walt -- one head, two bodies, two personalities. He is the proprietor of the Golden Door and is briefly worshipped as a god by the inhabitants of the parallel universe opened by the defected Jerry Scuttler.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I won't even bother to describe the plot. Suffice it to say that the elements include the first black President of the United States and pre-industrial ape men from another dimension. The plot is wildly inventive, but the typical Philip K. Dick flaws are all on full display. Too much dialogue? Check. Too many characters resulting in dissipation of focus? Check. Omniscient narrator with no clear point of view? Check. Still, if you're a fan -- which I am -- it's not completely bad. There are bette I won't even bother to describe the plot. Suffice it to say that the elements include the first black President of the United States and pre-industrial ape men from another dimension. The plot is wildly inventive, but the typical Philip K. Dick flaws are all on full display. Too much dialogue? Check. Too many characters resulting in dissipation of focus? Check. Omniscient narrator with no clear point of view? Check. Still, if you're a fan -- which I am -- it's not completely bad. There are better Dick books, sure, but if this is the only one you bring on the airplane, you won't be disappointed.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Julio Bonilla

    •This story foreshadows President Barack Obama. When will we have an Asian/Latino president? 🤔

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    With ideas so obsolete and cliched, it reads like a parody of itself. At least in the beginning. I admit that I did not get very far.... Oh it feels so good to get rid of these books that I've hauled around several homes in CC... now that we're headed all the way to MO, I've no more excuses to try to read stuff I'm not really interested in.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Denis

    A mid-period PKD novel (expanded from the novella Cantata 140 published in the July 1964 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.). It is a humorous novel packed with many unique ideas and interesting themes including over-population, politics and racism. Initially, unlike with the majority of PKD’s other works, I didn’t find this novel as interesting as others I’ve read. It seemed to lacked something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on... Too conventional? But by the second hal A mid-period PKD novel (expanded from the novella Cantata 140 published in the July 1964 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.). It is a humorous novel packed with many unique ideas and interesting themes including over-population, politics and racism. Initially, unlike with the majority of PKD’s other works, I didn’t find this novel as interesting as others I’ve read. It seemed to lacked something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on... Too conventional? But by the second half, my opinion on that changed. It goes in the most unexpected directions and becomes, in my opinion, one of his finest efforts. Unlike Ubik, High Castle, Martian Time-Slip, Electric Sheep and many others, this one is an unsung gem. “The Crack in Space” is not a bad place to start with PKD, and if you are already familiar with his work but just haven’t gotten to this one yet, I am certain that you will enjoy it. Another good one by this unique Master of the genre.

  11. 3 out of 5

    Alex Telander

    There’s a unique style to Philip K. Dick’s work that can perhaps be called unforgiving: his writing isn’t easy and straightforward; you have to work at it and make sure you keep up, because he’s just going to throw you in the middle of his complex world and drag you along for one crazy ride. The Crack in Space is a perfect example of this, recently released in a minimalist-looking new edition from Mariner Books, where the world is at a distant point in our future and all is not well. While techn There’s a unique style to Philip K. Dick’s work that can perhaps be called unforgiving: his writing isn’t easy and straightforward; you have to work at it and make sure you keep up, because he’s just going to throw you in the middle of his complex world and drag you along for one crazy ride. The Crack in Space is a perfect example of this, recently released in a minimalist-looking new edition from Mariner Books, where the world is at a distant point in our future and all is not well. While technology has advanced, it seems that humanity has not, as it is a world divided by the color of one’s skin, and now there’s a black man running for president. In this world, people are able to zap across continents and off planet in record time using “scuttler” tubes, until a lowly maintenance worker discovers a malfunctioning scuttler tube that has a hole leading to an alternate world. He enters this new parallel dimension and is soon killed. As news of this other world spreads, Jim Briskin, who could become the first black president, sees a big opportunity. There are millions of people (mostly non-white) who are in cryopreservation known as “bibs,” looking to be revived when a solution is found to the world’s overpopulation problems. Briskin hopes to use the promise of setting all these bibs free in the new world to help his presidency. The only problem is that there are some beings on the other side that seem to be a form of our ancestors, Homo erectus, known as Peking Man, who beat out the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons on this world to become the dominant species, and they aren’t about to let Homo sapiens walk all over them. For a book that is barely two hundred pages long, Dick manages to do an incredible job of revealing a complex world with plenty of unusual and unforgettable characters that will keep any scifi fan hooked until the very last page. Originally written on February 13, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander. For more reviews and exclusive interviews, go to BookBanter.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Even when he is not at his very best, as with The Crack in Space, Philip K. Dick is eminently worth reading. Somehow, half a century ago, he anticipated several key facets of life in our time, starting with a black president and a racist society. Over 100 million Cols (Coloreds?) have volunteered to be frozen until the socioeconomic situation for them has improved -- so many, in fact, that the number of BiBs ("Bottled in Bond") is threatening the national budget. As a result of an accident to a J Even when he is not at his very best, as with The Crack in Space, Philip K. Dick is eminently worth reading. Somehow, half a century ago, he anticipated several key facets of life in our time, starting with a black president and a racist society. Over 100 million Cols (Coloreds?) have volunteered to be frozen until the socioeconomic situation for them has improved -- so many, in fact, that the number of BiBs ("Bottled in Bond") is threatening the national budget. As a result of an accident to a Jiffi-scuttler, a link as opened to an alternative earth inhabited solely by Peking Man. At first, before these natives are discovered, it is decided to move a large number of BiBs to this planet. And that's when the problems begin. It appears the "Pekes" have their own technology which is different and perhaps in some ways superior. And, to make matters worse, the dual entity known as George Walt (two humans sharing a single head) -- formerly owners of the Golden Door Moments of Bliss satellite serving as a giant brothel in earth's orbit -- has snuck across and been worshiped by the Pekes as their wind god. Somehow, it all works out in the end, but not without a glacial beginning. Sometimes, Philip K. Dick is so darned inventive that too much plot machinery is required to keep the story in motion. Still, like all PKD stories, it's worth a look.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Reade

    Philip K. Dick is awesome. Most of the time. Here, he is just good. Not great. It was surprisingly tame for a Dick book, and the usual themes (Psionic Abilities, Reality Shifts, Hellish Introspection) were all sadly lacking. The most we get by way of toying with reality is a barely visited "alternate earth" and a single mutant pimping out women that are sort of half-women or something. Less than human anyway. Worth reading if you already like Philip K. Dick's work, but if you are unfamiliar I wou Philip K. Dick is awesome. Most of the time. Here, he is just good. Not great. It was surprisingly tame for a Dick book, and the usual themes (Psionic Abilities, Reality Shifts, Hellish Introspection) were all sadly lacking. The most we get by way of toying with reality is a barely visited "alternate earth" and a single mutant pimping out women that are sort of half-women or something. Less than human anyway. Worth reading if you already like Philip K. Dick's work, but if you are unfamiliar I would suggest looking elsewhere for your introduction to this otherwise phenomenal writer.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Drew

    Gave up at page 70, and this is my first DNF of 2018 with no plans to come back. Reasons: * Poorly written. High school creative writing level exposition, characters, and line by line writing * Way too many characters with few defining features * Too many political machinations in a book about another dimension. Maybe the blurb was misleading. They got my money, I guess. While I see that PKD was going for racial and social commentary, it’s so poorly executed that page by page, I’m not engaged and i Gave up at page 70, and this is my first DNF of 2018 with no plans to come back. Reasons: * Poorly written. High school creative writing level exposition, characters, and line by line writing * Way too many characters with few defining features * Too many political machinations in a book about another dimension. Maybe the blurb was misleading. They got my money, I guess. While I see that PKD was going for racial and social commentary, it’s so poorly executed that page by page, I’m not engaged and it’s all just badly written political drama * The first few pages are jam packed with abbreviations and jargon words, many of which are nonsensical and meant to make it sound “future-y.” * Some scenes make no sense spatially (how did that just happen if they’re in a crowded place?) * My edition had tons of punctuation missing. Not really a knock against the novel itself, I suppose. Unless it attests to the manuscript being hastily pushed out and given little to no editing attention PKD must have had a deadline and stayed up for 3 days banging this one out, possibly under the influence of something. I’ve read several of his novels, even a couple beyond the standard greatest hits, and this one was by far the worst executed.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julieta Steyr

    Creo que no existe una versión editorial de "The Crack in Space", pero encontré una como "Cantata 140" (el otro nombre de este libro) que está traducida al español. Es una historia sobre racismos, poder, asesinato con toques de alcohol y prostitutas (¡amo a Dick!). Podría ser una buena mini serie sin romance por cómo comienza a mezclar a todos los personajes que tiene en un entramado perfecto, cada uno cumpliendo su rol y teniendo como principal a Jim Briskin, un candidato a presidente negro, los Creo que no existe una versión editorial de "The Crack in Space", pero encontré una como "Cantata 140" (el otro nombre de este libro) que está traducida al español. Es una historia sobre racismos, poder, asesinato con toques de alcohol y prostitutas (¡amo a Dick!). Podría ser una buena mini serie sin romance por cómo comienza a mezclar a todos los personajes que tiene en un entramado perfecto, cada uno cumpliendo su rol y teniendo como principal a Jim Briskin, un candidato a presidente negro, los problemas con su entorno y cómo la trama de BiBs (personas que son colocadas a dormir para "solucionar" el problema de la superpoblación), los Cols (las personas de color, de las cuales no son sólo los "negros" en sí mismos sino también los mexicanos y purtorriqueños, junto con los mestizos), y el Salón de los Placeres se van entremezclando. Recomendadísima luego de monótonas lecturas que han dejado sabores agridulces. Y no es tan larga. También recomendadísima para épocas en las que el racismo hace eclosión en cualquiera de sus formas.

  16. 3 out of 5

    MGMaudlin

    A very rough plot which Dick barely fills in, but what a unique plot. Is this the first sci-fi novel that made use of the multiverse? I can only read Dick occasionally since I worry that all of life will start to bend and distort like his novels. Still, reading his novels is a healthy reminder that all is not as ordered and normal as we think.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jack Stovold

    My Philip K. Dick Project Entry #31 - The Crack In Space (written Sep. 1963-Mar. 1974, published Feb. 1966) Jim Briskin, everyone's favorite news clown, is back for Round III, and this time, he's black! More accurately, in The Crack in Space, Briskin is a former news clown, and in the running to become America's first black president (sorry, Obama!) One of the more depressing thing about PKD's stories is how long he often (not always) predicted that flagrant and public racial discrimination would My Philip K. Dick Project Entry #31 - The Crack In Space (written Sep. 1963-Mar. 1974, published Feb. 1966) Jim Briskin, everyone's favorite news clown, is back for Round III, and this time, he's black! More accurately, in The Crack in Space, Briskin is a former news clown, and in the running to become America's first black president (sorry, Obama!) One of the more depressing thing about PKD's stories is how long he often (not always) predicted that flagrant and public racial discrimination would exist. Race plays a large role in Crack, with America stratified between the Cols (colored people, including hispanics and other dark-skinned peoples), and whites. Briskin's campaign is sinking, and he needs something to save it. Help comes in the form of the titular crack in space, a portal into what turns out to be a parallel, alternate Earth. What really grabbed me straight away, however, was when I noticed that this book, while not necessarily a direct sequel, takes place in the same continuity as a rather minor Dick story he wrote 10 years before this, “Prominent Author”, in 1954. In it, people use “jiffi-scuttlers”, a new device that eliminates the need for commuting by creating a sort of dimensional walkway between two points in space. One commuter, while walking through, finds a tiny opening in the dimensional “fabric”, and within there is a primitive world of tiny people who worship him, and ask him questions in a strange language. Using a translating machine, he answers them, only to find later it was not an alien world, but that he had been communicating with the ancient Hebrews and that he himself was the author of the Holy Bible. Although he freely resuses names, characters, and sometimes concepts, Dick very, very rarely wrote sequels or continuations of any kind, which makes it so exciting when they do happen. And I happened to like “Prominent Author” quite a bit. Some seventy years or so later, it happens again, but this time, it’s not a rip in time, or even in space, but instead in reality, or at least our reality. What lies beyond the rift is a parallel world. Earth, choking to death with “bibs”, millions of unemployable youths placed in suspended animation until a solution can be found, is desperate for that solution. When a seemingly pristine world is found in the rift, presidential hopeful Jim Briskin jumps on the chance to save his flailing campaign, promising a new world ripe for colonization. But he has some opposition in the form of CLEAN, a racist grassroots political action group, and George Walt, the disturbing Siamese Twins who own the Golden Doors of Bliss, a brothel orbiting Earth which Briskin decries. Despite that description, and aside from the usual crazily inventive Dick set pieces, plot-wise Crack turns out to be one of Dick's most straight-forward stories. In fact, that may be my main problem with it. Once the mystery of the parallel world is solved (and anyone familiar with Dick’s interests around this time will see it coming from pretty far off), the plot loses steam, and never comes near to filling its potential. I was hoping for a plot about the cultural, social and political issues that would follow from men from our world coming face to face with the people from the parallel world, but this never really happens. We hardly even get to meet them. There is some great stuff in here. George Walt is a suitably creepy villain, two men who share a head connected at the base of the skull. They both talk, identifying themselves as either George or Walt at the beginning of each sentence, with eyes moving independently. There is something very wrong about it, perfectly encapsulated by one of the technicians for the jiffi-scuttlers recounting the sort of primordial fear he remembers upon first encountering him. And it’s a nice change of pace for this period not to have some huge marital or relationship quarrel hovering over the proceedings. But it would have been nicer to get more story about race and politics in our world, and more about the people in the other world. What we have here is squandered potential in both worlds. This book is still very enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not up to par with a lot of Dick’s work from this period. My edition: Mariner books paperback, 2011 Up next: “The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick, Vol. 5 - The Eye of the Sibyl”! September 24, 2012

  18. 3 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. In Philip K. Dick’s The Crack in Space (1966), American technology and civilization has advanced so far that citizens can easily take a spaceship to make daily visits to an orbiting satellite whorehouse, personal Jifi-scuttlers are used to warp space/time so that people can quickly travel from home to work in a distant city, and overpopulation is such a public concern that millions of dispossessed Americans have chosen to be put in cryogenic storage until ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. In Philip K. Dick’s The Crack in Space (1966), American technology and civilization has advanced so far that citizens can easily take a spaceship to make daily visits to an orbiting satellite whorehouse, personal Jifi-scuttlers are used to warp space/time so that people can quickly travel from home to work in a distant city, and overpopulation is such a public concern that millions of dispossessed Americans have chosen to be put in cryogenic storage until a habitable planet is discovered. Yet, America has not advanced so far in other respects. It’s 2080, racism is still rampant, and Jim Briskin is hoping to be elected as the first African-American President. He needs to convince both the “Caucs” and the “Cols” (oh, what horrible nicknames!) that he’s the best man for the job. This isn’t always easy to do for a principled man who isn’t willing to abandon his conservative ideals just to get the endorsement of the powerful mutant who controls the satellite broadcasts. It gets even harder when his white campaign manager defects to the other side and Briskin is now the target of assassination attempts. But when a repairman discovers an alternate universe in his client’s broken Jifi-Scuttler, Jim Briskin sees a way that he can win the election — by promising to send all the frozen people to inhabit the alternate Earth. Sure enough, in pure PKD style, the Americans quickly and unthinkingly embrace Briskin’s crazy idea and off they go, heading for disaster! The Crack in Space is related to one of my favorite PKD short stories: “Prominent Author,” in which we’re introduced to the Jifi-scuttler. Dick’s stories are always bizarrely entertaining. They’re usually fast-paced and full of weird people with weird ideas doing weird things. In The Crack in Space, which contains a more straight-forward plot than many of his novels, we have a famous organ transplant doctor who’s divorcing his wife (an “abort-consultant”) while hiding his mistress in a parallel universe. Where is Dr. Sands getting all the organs for his transplants? Then there’s George Walt, the man with two bodies (but only one head) who runs the orbiting whorehouse and wants to get rid of Jim Briskin because Briskin wants to shut him down. As usual, all the characters talk on vid phones, drink synthetic coffee, avoid the automatic reporters, get divorced, and worry about overpopulation. The Crack in Space is fun, but not up to par with the best PKD offers. I don’t know if Dick really imagined that in 2080 American race relations wouldn’t have progressed beyond 1960s levels, but this really makes the novel feel more dated than his other works do. Also, the way that Americans dealt with the parallel universe was so simplistic and naïve that this was hard to swallow, but yet it’s so typical of PKD. Fans, who are used to his frenzied plots and other little writing quirks, are likely to just chuckle and let it go. In the end, though, there’s a beautiful ironic message. As Americans are dealing with race warfare, PKD shows us that, really, we’re all human after all. Brilliance Audio, who is gradually producing all of Philip K. Dick’s novels in audio format, did another wonderful job with this one. Eric Dawe performs it superbly.

  19. 3 out of 5

    Charles

    Stuff I Read - The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick Review Man, Philip K. Dick has written some rather odd stuff. This is the second of three books of his that I'll be reading this year, and while Eye in the Sky was rather messed up, this one has it's own brand of weird. Of course, both stories are at least a bit about race, with The Crack in Space being much more direct and hitting. It's also about difference and about responsibility, about overpopulation and poverty and a whole lot of other thi Stuff I Read - The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick Review Man, Philip K. Dick has written some rather odd stuff. This is the second of three books of his that I'll be reading this year, and while Eye in the Sky was rather messed up, this one has it's own brand of weird. Of course, both stories are at least a bit about race, with The Crack in Space being much more direct and hitting. It's also about difference and about responsibility, about overpopulation and poverty and a whole lot of other things as well. It's a little creepy, too, some of things that existed back then and how they are still such a problem today. Sort of showing how having a black president doesn't mean (at all) that racism is dead. Especially when, you know, there's almost half the country that didn't vote for him. But on the surface this is a strange beast, bringing up the idea that overpopulation has lead to a sort of devaluing of traditional morals and that the poor are being funneled into stasis that they can never escape. As a commentary on how young people of color are funneled into a prison system that will never really let them out, the story is moving, and not incredibly hopeful. Because there are a lot of proposed solutions. And the most prominent, the most palatable, are the ones that really offer nothing in the way of change. They are discovering a new world where the cycle can start over. The characters and the plot are interesting, though. There's the rather evil conjoined brothers who run the enormous prostitution satellite that is popular because people aren't supposed to have kids because of the overpopulation. Which is another interesting wrinkle in the story, because it also shows how lack of sex education and lack of resources kind of force poor people to have few options when it comes to pregnancy, and it's rather refreshing to see that abortion in this setting is not something that is viewed as morally abhorrent, though there is the feeling that it would be better if people wanting families were allowed. Still, it works out that only the very wealthy can have kids, something that shows the inequality rampant in the system. Really, it's an interesting story and setting, and one that does bring up a lot of good points, especially given how it was written so long ago. As with a lot of the stories by Philip K. Dick, the female roles aren't as varied as the male roles. But there are a number of prominent examples, and some of them who wield power well. It just doesn't really treat with the intersection of race and gender or wealth and gender that much, which is a little disappointing but partly to be expected because of when it was written. In the end, I enjoyed reading it, and like most Philip K. Dick novels there are some really wonky ideas. The crack in space itself is rather insane, and brings a sort of invasion of Earth that sputters out and ends up saying even more about how race effects how we view people. Really it's a fun story that might get some wheels turning, but not without some flaws. To me, that means an 8/10.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    The Crack in Space was a chore to read. If this is any indication of a typical Philip K. Dick book, I am never going to attempt another one. First and foremost, this book has too many ideas squished into one novel (a short one too!). There is no way I can adequately summarise the over-complicated plot, except to say it involves a dystopian future society afflicted by over-population and rampant prostitution, widespread cryogenic freezing, the discovery of a tunnel to a parallel Earth, encounters The Crack in Space was a chore to read. If this is any indication of a typical Philip K. Dick book, I am never going to attempt another one. First and foremost, this book has too many ideas squished into one novel (a short one too!). There is no way I can adequately summarise the over-complicated plot, except to say it involves a dystopian future society afflicted by over-population and rampant prostitution, widespread cryogenic freezing, the discovery of a tunnel to a parallel Earth, encounters with an extinct hominid species, artificial ‘mutant’ humans and, most bizarrely, the social ramifications of an African American campaigning for presidency. Unsurprisingly, these wildly disparate ideas don’t gel at all, so the book constantly makes abrupt jumps from one idea to the next. To be fair, I actually liked some of these ideas and I have to give Dick credit for being so inventive, but even the good ideas are explored in pretty shallow ways. Additionally, there are too many characters and too many subplots so it’s impossible to get properly invested in the story. Plus, all the characters are all incredibly flat and stereotypical. And the overall story doesn’t end up going anywhere, except in a giant circle. The characters make plans, their plans fail and then they abandon everything and wind up exactly where they started. It’s incredible frustrating to have persevered so long with a weird, messy book only to discover it all comes to nothing. It’s also badly written with awkward dialogue and excessive use of really clumsy adverbs. This book is very much a product of the era during which is was written and feels very dated. For example, the would-be president opposes the giant floating space brothel because he thinks women need to go back to being housewives. And although the book arrives a surprisingly anti-racist conclusion, it also features a lot of casual racism along the way, especially regarding the poor, unemployed, young, pregnant “Col” couple. Look, if you’re a fan of Philip K. Dick, good luck to you. I am obviously not and I am going to stay well clear of his work in the future.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Blythe

    In an overpopulated world, millions of people have elected to become bibs (cryogenically frozen until the job market opens up), abortion centers are prospering, and prostitution has been made legal on orbiting satellites (to ease "frustrations", while preventing pregnancy). It's a huge problem faced by the presidential candidates, who must present solutions to this problem if they are to be elected. Jim Briskin announces in a public speech a possible solution. A company has stumbled upon a porta In an overpopulated world, millions of people have elected to become bibs (cryogenically frozen until the job market opens up), abortion centers are prospering, and prostitution has been made legal on orbiting satellites (to ease "frustrations", while preventing pregnancy). It's a huge problem faced by the presidential candidates, who must present solutions to this problem if they are to be elected. Jim Briskin announces in a public speech a possible solution. A company has stumbled upon a portal to a parallel world, apparently uninhabited, to which people can emigrate. This announcement opens a whole can of worms and new problems, especially when they find out the alternate world was not as unpopulated as they all thought. Mixed in with all the population stuff are constant commentaries about race relations, most notably because Briskin, a Col, could be the first black president of the United States. I couldn't help but read this and think about the fact that President Obama is currently in the white house. The race question gets confounded even further once the people on alt-earth are discovered. It's a fairly short read, and it goes very quick. But a lot gets packed into it, and there's a lot of jumping from character to character. Dick doesn't seem to be as interested in achieving an emotional connection with the reader as an intellectual one. You're not meant to feel for the characters or get to know them, you're meant to get a taste for their point of view. Every one's got an opinion, and the author presents many of them, so many that it's not entirely clear where he stands on anything. This is a thinking book, certainly fun, but one that I would like to sit with a book group and chat about. A reader could come at it from many angles -- each would be correct.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Not one of Dick's better books, but still an interesting read and, occasionally, a fun one at that. I found it a bit shocking that in the 1960s, Dick was writing about issues that are very relevant today, such as abortion, a black president, etc. Before either was possible, in other words. The book is about a parallel earth, and our attempts to populate it with 70 million bibs, or people who had been frozen due to overpopulation. Most of them are black. As far as a standard Dick novel, I thought Not one of Dick's better books, but still an interesting read and, occasionally, a fun one at that. I found it a bit shocking that in the 1960s, Dick was writing about issues that are very relevant today, such as abortion, a black president, etc. Before either was possible, in other words. The book is about a parallel earth, and our attempts to populate it with 70 million bibs, or people who had been frozen due to overpopulation. Most of them are black. As far as a standard Dick novel, I thought it moved a little slowly, and there were some things I wasn't happy with. For instance, there were far too many characters to keep track of -- it seemed like dozens! I kept getting them all mixed up. Then some would just disappear from the text, never to be heard from again (Myra Sands). It can be a bit confusing. Additionally, Dick usually throws a few more wrenches into his works than he did in this one, leaving us with the alternate earth and not much more. I kept waiting for standard PKD surprises to knock me over, but that rarely happened. Still, even though this isn't one of his stronger works, I'm giving it a solid 4 out of 5 stars, as I think most anything Dick writes is better than the best that most other authors publish....

  23. 5 out of 5

    Linnea

    I can see, sociologically, where Dick was headed with this one. As always, his novels are daring and ahead of their time. The Crack in Space was enjoyable, but it wasn't unforgettable enough to pick up again. Dialogue was a little heavy and vaguely droning sometimes. The storyline took a while to accomplish anything with. The amount of characters also never really paid off, they all felt similar except for Jim Briskin in style. It's classic paranoid Dick though, and the same personality is retai I can see, sociologically, where Dick was headed with this one. As always, his novels are daring and ahead of their time. The Crack in Space was enjoyable, but it wasn't unforgettable enough to pick up again. Dialogue was a little heavy and vaguely droning sometimes. The storyline took a while to accomplish anything with. The amount of characters also never really paid off, they all felt similar except for Jim Briskin in style. It's classic paranoid Dick though, and the same personality is retained. I can safely say that while this was not a waste of time, it is not near one of his best works.

  24. 5 out of 5

    This Is Not The Michael You're Looking For

    A rather straight-forward, for Philip K. Dick, science fiction book about a futuristic election involving the first (potential) black president of the United States, overpopulation, racism, and what happens when one encounters the unexpected. The characters in the book are all flat and dimensionless, while the message underlying message is somewhat ham-handed and doesn't resonate the way it should. Despite this, I found it a nice read, perhaps because it is more approachable and less confusing t A rather straight-forward, for Philip K. Dick, science fiction book about a futuristic election involving the first (potential) black president of the United States, overpopulation, racism, and what happens when one encounters the unexpected. The characters in the book are all flat and dimensionless, while the message underlying message is somewhat ham-handed and doesn't resonate the way it should. Despite this, I found it a nice read, perhaps because it is more approachable and less confusing than many other books by PKD.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    Phillip K. Dick was a working writer and this book has that feel. I would be surprised if it took him more than a couple of weeks to write the thing. It has a muddled, hurried feeling to it. It is still an good book, though. P.K. Dick is still more imaginitive and amazing on his worst day than most sci-fi writers are in a life time. I have read many of his books and even though this one was mediocre it was still completly original. It raises some interesting moral questions and touches on import Phillip K. Dick was a working writer and this book has that feel. I would be surprised if it took him more than a couple of weeks to write the thing. It has a muddled, hurried feeling to it. It is still an good book, though. P.K. Dick is still more imaginitive and amazing on his worst day than most sci-fi writers are in a life time. I have read many of his books and even though this one was mediocre it was still completly original. It raises some interesting moral questions and touches on important issues of his day, today and the future. Not his best book but enjoyable to read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I've definitely read better PKD books but The Crack in Space is by no means horrible. It's a creative plot that ends sort of abruptly; it kind of seems like Dick got bored right at the tail end of the novel and decided to wrap it up as quick as possible. Nonetheless, it's a good read for PKD fans, but is probably not the best recommendation for someone just getting into Dick.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    The first several (like eight) PKD books I read, I thought he was the oddest most unpredictable author I'd ever encountered. Such inscrutable choices and themes. Now, for like the last three I've read, I'm over that. I guess I'm used to him. And I love his writing more than ever. Still bizarre, but I know what to expect now. I LOVED THIS.

  28. 3 out of 5

    Mark

    Not one of his better efforts. Too short for the ideas it contains, not to mention an implausible take on social morays. That said, some of the ideas are first-rate and would have been wonderful at a decent length.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Jo

    Re-read this for the first time in years. Pervasive sense of dread as all the implications of this incredibly imaginative, terrifying colonial allegory gradually kick in. It's still shocking to me that this man was able to write so many great books in one lifetime.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Geraud

    pas grand chose a en dire sinon que j'ai passé un bon moment :-)

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