Monday, June 19, 2006

Title: Flow my Tears, The Policeman Said
Author: Philip K. Dick
Publisher: Gollancz

Jason Taverner is a six, one of a few people born of a secret genetic engineering program. This makes him especially charismatic and popular. As such he has become world famous – a singer and the host of a light entertainment show that gets ratings of 30 million every week. So why is it that waking up in a dingy little hotel, with no ID, no one knows who he is?

In an America become police state after a second civil war, students are detained in underground campuses, while dissenters and rebels are sent to Forced Labour Camps. A man with no ID will not get far, so before Taverner can do anything else he needs some kind of ID. Unfortunately a trail of police informers bring him to the attention of a police general. But there genuinely is no record of Taverner – only something someone really important and powerful could achieve. So the general wants to know – who is Jason Taverner?

Flow My Tears is one of a handful of Philip K. Dick’s novels to be included in Gollancz SF Masterworks series, and one of perhaps a dozen of his novels I have in my “to read” pile which I am working through gradually. Every time I go for a while without reading one of his novels and then read one I am always taken aback. There is always something more to his writing than I expect, always a degree of not knowing where he is going to go with a novel. Sure, he has recurring themes – police states, paranoia, and drugs – all of which feature here. You can usually make some comparison to other works, Flow My Tears shares aspects with The Penultimate Truth and Now Wait For Last Year. Even so, he keeps taking me by surprise.

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