Lies, Inc. by Philip K. Dick (book review).

‘Lies, Inc.’ is a re-issue of a novel that was publishes in 1984 after Phil Dick’s death. Originally written in 1964, it was never truly completed and it was put together from different drafts. This is now the most complete version offered of this startlingly original story that nevertheless follows many of the traits and obsessions of Phil Dick’s other works.


Rachmael ben Applebaum is an unusual character. He is the last survivor of a family that possesses an interstellar carrier which could take people to the planet of Newcolonizedland to the colony known as Whale’s Mouth. The only problem is that this travel takes 18 years and it has been made obsolete by the invention of a one-way matter transporter. There are 40 million people already transported to Whale’s Mouth but Applebaum has a nagging suspicion that the film of the happy smiling crowds are faked. He’s not the only one and an Earth agency tries to help him complete his mission by supplying the technology but they are dogged by the agents of Trails of Hoffman who do their best to stop him. What have they got to hide?

Now this book has issues due to the nature of its creation. The narrative is fractured and it’s hard to decide whether this is because of how it has been posthumously edited and how much is actually Phil’s vision. This was originally published as ‘The Unteleported Man’ but this is now the most complete version painstakingly put together by Phil Dick in 1979 and then, after his death, Paul William’s Phil’s literary executor.

With all the issues, though, this is fairly mind-bending stuff and not least the extensive commentary of the main character under the influence of LSD which is part of the additional narrative put in by Phil Dick in 1979. If you are a scholar of Phil Dick or just a curious reader, this is definitely worth picking up. I couldn’t put it down and, although left somewhat scratching my head, it pulls together many of the threads of narrative to give the reader some closure. I’ve no idea if you could do a film treatment of this without destroying Phil’s vision but I’m pretty sure I’d pay money to see it.

Sue Davies

October 2014

(pub: Gollancz. 225 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK only). ISBN: 978-0-575-13310-5)

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