[ read online Pdf ] Dr. FuturityAuthor Philip K. Dick – Wildlives.co
Jim Parsons Is A Talented Doctor, Skilled At The Most Advanced Medical Techniques And Dedicated To Saving Lives But After A Bizarre Road Accident Leaves Him Hundreds Of Years In The Future, Parsons Is Horrified To Discover An Incredibly Advanced Civilization That Zealously Embraces Death Now, He Is Caught Between His Own Instincts And Training As A Healer And A Society Where It Is Illegal To Save Lives But Parsons Is Not The Only One Left Who Believes In Prolonging Life, And Those Who Share His Beliefs Have Desperate Plans For Dr Parsons Skills, And For The Future Of Their Society Dr Futurity Is Not Only A Thrilling Rendition Of A Terrifying Future But It Is Also A Fantastic Examination Of The Paradoxes Of Time Travel That Could Only Have Come From The Mind Of Philip K Dick As I mentioned in my review of Philip K Dick s 1960 novel Vulcan s Hammer, by 1959, the future Hugo winner was feeling decidedly disenchanted with science fiction in general, despite having had published some 85 short stories and half a dozen novels in that genre The author, it seems, was still pinning his hopes on becoming a respectable, mainstream writer, and had indeed already completed nine such novels Return to Lilliput, Pilgrim on the Hill and A Time for George Stavros are considered lost, probably never to see the light of day, whereas Gather Yourselves Together, Voices From the Street, Mary and the Giant, The Broken Bubble, Puttering About in a Small Land and In Milton Lumky Territory were only released years after Dick s premature death in 1982.And yet, despite his interest in science fiction being at its lowest point ever in 1959, the author yet managed to work on two such novels, economic pressures being what they were The two books were both expanded from earlier novellas Vulcan s Hammer from a novella in a 1956 issue of Future Science Fiction magazine, and the book in question, the whimsically titled Dr Futurity, from the novella Time Pawn, which initially appeared in the Summer 54 issue of the 25 cent pulp Thrilling Wonder Stories Like Vulcan s Hammer, Dr Futurity first saw the light of day in 1960, as one half of one of those cute little 35 cent Ace doubles D 421, for all you collectors out there , backed by John Brunner s Slaves of Space I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on this Ace double thanks to NYC bookstore extraordinaire The Strand, and was happy to discover that, despite its poor reputation, the book is still surprisingly fun and enjoyable, with a complex plot, several nice touches, and wonderful atmosphere Yes, it s far from Dick at his best, and is a somewhat atypical outing for this most cultish of authors, but should still manage to please his many fans.In Dr Futurity, the reader encounters a 32 year old doctor named Jim Parsons hmm, why does that name seem so familiar , who lives in Northern California with his wife Mary in the futuristic year of, um, 2012 Driving to work one day, Parsons is suddenly dredged up by a time travel device and kerplopped into the year 2405 He learns that in this distant time, all men are forced to become sterilized after reaching puberty, and all human zygotes are stored in a repository called the Soul Cube Dr Sheldon Cooper I mean, Jim Parsons makes the huge mistake of saving the life of a grievously injured female activist her clique is actively protesting the fact that women in 2405 have been denied the right to vote , in a society in which death is seen as a precursor to life i.e., for every human death that occurs, another zygote in the Soul Cube is brought to term Parsons is deemed a menace and is summarily shipped off to a prison on Mars, but not before the owners of that time machine the life worshipping Wolf Tribe, the full blooded descendants of the Native American Iroquois rescue him and ask him to resuscitate their 35 year dead leader, Corith, who is being stored in cold pack stasis after being pierced with an arrow, through the heart, while on a mission in the year 1579 Cooper I mean, Parsons geez, gotta stop doing that agrees, and before long is immersed in a plot to not only bring Corith back to life, but to assassinate the English explorer Francis Drake and thus alter future history in favor of the Amerindians I have said elsewhere that the inherent paradoxes contained in many time travel novels can sometimes induce a borderline migraine in me as I endeavor to unravel them, and Dick surely does deliver some doozies in Dr Futurity Indeed, this is one of the most pleasingly mind warping such tales I ve ever read one in which Parsons not only gets to travel to the far past and distant future, but also hops about in time attempting to alter history as well as his own future actions Somehow, though, far fetched as the proceedings often get, Dick manages to make it all hang together he evidently gave a lot of thought to all the many plot intricacies here Still, the book has been roundly denigrated, not only by Scottish critic David Pringle, in his Ultimate Guide to Science Fiction an exceedingly minor novel by one of sf s greatest writers, he calls it , but also by Dick biographer Lawrence Sutin, in his Divine Invasions, as well a potboiler that barely bubbles, he sniffs Personally, I would agree with Pringle that the book is a minor one for Dick, but feel that Sutin is being a tad too harsh, as Dr Futurity does have any number of fine qualities to commend itself to the reader.Besides being complexly plotted, the book is at times marvelously atmospheric, such as when Parsons is marooned by the Wolf Tribe, back in an unknown era, and walks the desolate shore of the Pacific Ocean, wondering how or if he will ever return Then again, take the scene in which Parsons witnesses the dying Earth of untold millennia hence a barren wasteland in which he finds nothing but an ancient plaquewith his name on it Dick fills his book with unusual little grace notes and weird bits of business, such as passenger cars in the year 2012 that are controlled by long distance beam that rat brain controlled prison ship and the shupos, maniacally violent children used by the government in 2405 as enforcers The book is sexually frank for its time Parsons has an affair with the Wolf clan s Mother Superior, Loris, and even fathers some 25th century children with her and even advocates for a woman s freedom of choice in this case, the freedom to either have a baby the old fashioned way or via the Soul Cube, if she wishes Most of the author s later pet concerns are not addressed in this book those dealing with drugs, divorce, cars, the slippery nature of so called reality, the German language, cigars although there is a passing reference to Beethoven s Archduke Trio a reminder of Dick s passion for opera and classical music Dr Futurity, tightly plotted as it is, is hardly a perfect work, and Dick is guilty of an occasional slip here and there He tells us that Drake was born in the early sixteenth century, whereas the actual date was circa 1540 He describes those time traveling ships as pencil shaped when we first encounter them, and later as being a metallic sphere A sphere shaped pencil And then there is the little matter of Parsons learning the language of four centuries hence in a scant matter of minutes Plus, that Plate of Brasse that Dick tells us was left by Drake on the California coast Well, that relic was determined to be a fake, a hoax, back in the late 1970snot that Dick had any way of knowing this in 1959, of course.As you may have discerned, Dr Futurity, again like Vulcan s Hammer, is something of a mixed bag, but yet, a highly readable and for this reader, anyway entertaining one Sutin calls these books Phil s two worst ever SF novels, which, in a way, just goes to show how great Dick s later work became And indeed, Dick did seem to rouse himself that very next year, when he worked on the 1962 Hugo winner The Man In the High Castle the first of a string of highly imaginative sci fi classics that Dick compulsively wrote over the course of the following decade As it turns out, even a minor work from a great author can prove to be a rewarding experience By the way, this review originally appeared on the FanLit website at a most ideal destination for all fans of Philip K Dick. There was simply no complete theory about time, he realized No hypothesis by which results could be anticipated Only experiment and guesswork Philip K Dick, Dr Futurity.One of the most traditionally SF novels PKD has written This is largely due, obviously, to it being early in the PKD s output Dr Futurity was published in 1960 and was his 7th published novel after Time Out of Joint and before Vulcan s Hammer In this novel Dick explore basic ideas of time travel, complete with arrows Think of the Hippocratic Oath pushed backwards and forwards in time Probably the most interesting piece of this novel is the future civilization that keeps a static level of human beings, only allowing a new baby to be born when someone dies PKD is quickly able to push this type of social evolution to its furthest realities or unrealities. Back in the day, Ace books released a paperback with TWO sci fi gems contained for our reading pleasure Ace doubles In 1960, Ace published Philip K Dick s Dr Futurity in an Ace Double flip the book over and upside down and John Brenner s Slavers of Space was on the other side.Dr Futurity is an honest to God time travel book by PKD, with all the necessary kooky eccentricities that Phil brings to any work Fans will recall other alternate history fantasies like The Crack in Space and The World Jones Made and of course his brilliant The Man in the High Castle This one is straightforward SF, but just as Robin Williams breathed strange life into any portrayal, so too does Dick animate this work with his own brand of eclectic charm.Doctor Jim Parsons finds himself taken out of his own time and cast far forward to discover things very different in the future In a setting and with themes reminiscent of Heinlein s Farnham s Freehold and of Fritz Lieber s The Big Time, Dick explores racism, colonialism and family with all of the paradoxes and time twists inherent in this SF vehicle.Not one of his great stories but it s vintage PKD so a must read for fans and SF aficionados. This book inspired me to write a song It goes a little like this Salagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi bobbidi booPut em together and what have you gotA far coherent statement than this bookSalagadoola mechicka boola bibbidi bobbidi booNot even magic can salvage this work I love the way the book started and got really excited when Parsons was sentenced to be exiled to Mars, but, sadly, he never made it and the rest of the book turned into a big mess I ve never been a huge fan of time traveling stories in the first place and this one was no exception, no matter how much I connect with PKD s writing style Oh well, I can t love all of his novels. A time travel meditation, tinged with typical Dickian aesthetics A doctor from 1998 30 years in the author s future travels forward to 2500 only to find a world where doctors are outlawed in favor of institutionalized euthanasia Here, he becomes involved in a neo Native American plot to travel back to the 16th century to assassinate Sir Francis Drake when he docks near San Fransisco in 1597 Is it possible to change the past Yes, but as we discover, only if you ve already changed it It gets the extra star only because I don t have the heart to give a 1 star rating to a Dick novel I still can t believe this was actually written by the author of Do Androids dream of electric sheep, The man in the high castle and so many other books I ve loved It was like reading a ten year old kid s effort in creative writing I ll blame it partly on the translation and partly on the fact that it was one of his earlier novels. Dr Futurity marks phase two of my PKD reading project I just finished the last of Dick s 1950 s novels and I m entering the 60 s Reading those early novels was good preparation for this one I feel like Dr Futurity is inferior to those novels, but I want to appreciate it as much as possible despite its flaws There are really two stories here that are loosely stitched together and I m okay with that Dick has pulled it off before It works well enough in The World Jones Made, which is four stories stitched together But it doesn t work in Dr Futurity The story that takes up the first third of the book intrigued me, but the remaining two thirds lost me The main story concerns the Wolf Tribe They want to improve the present by changing the past This is an interesting idea, but it is largely undermined by their observation that changes in the past have very little effect on the present I found myself disliking the time traveling tribe as much as I disliked the mainstream society They were no less obsessed with racial purity and death than their enemies I could go into detail, but I would rather focus on the first one third of the novel which had so much potential As soon as Stenog started talking about zygotes and euthanors I thought this novel was going to explore ethical questions about the beginning and ending of life and perhaps philosophical questions about personhood and the value of life The possibilities are numerous Unfortunately, Dick doesn t pursue this part of the story very far I wonder why There s so much material here When Dr Parsons is arrested for the crime of saving a woman s life, he expresses moral outrage that this society euthanizes people who could be saved But the members of this society are morally outraged by his statement that he even saves the lives of the deformed Because they are motivated by their eugenic goals, they value zygotes above people And in order to keep the population stable, a zygote is only allowed to develop when a person dies Thus, the sooner people die, the sooner they can be replaced by the next generation and the faster the race can progress For them, it is the race, not the individual, that matters.Stenog puts Parsons in his place by reminding him of his own society s method of population control Your science was also devoted to keeping new life from appearing You had contraceptives Chemical and mechanical agents preventing zygote formation within the oviduct 33 I recently read Dick s short story The Pre Persons, my review which is an anti abortion story, so this caught my attention I feel like there s social criticism lurking beneath the surface, but it never quite comes to light This leaves me wondering what Dick s own views were The mainstream society in Dr Futurity practices male sterilization, sex apart from reproduction, eugenics, and euthanasia It seems likely that Dick opposed all these practices just as he opposed abortion If so, that would explain why Stenog s remark to Parsons was uttered with a cunning expression 33 It would also suggest that Dick was opposed to contraception This interpretation is supported by the changes made by the Wolf Tribe at the end of the story 161 Finally, I can t resist a comparison with H G Wells The Time Machine I think Dick pays homage to Wells in his description of the Earth in its last days the redness, the desolation, the lichens and the spectacle observed by the time traveling doctor as everything goes in reverse 62 66 I found this scene memorable than anything else in the book What can I say At his worst, PKD is still quite good. Like Vulcan s Hammer, this is a better than usual Philip K Dick book As is usual with Philip K Dick, the book is not really about its premise Once you get to know his writing, you simply enjoy the ride because the story goes where the characters would take it if they were real people In this case, the premise IS interesting a society of people who don t believe in doctors, so there s no recovery from significant physical traumas Dick s vision of what such a society would look like works for me, but when a doctor is plucked from another time and dropped into such a society, I m not surprised his biggest question is How did I get here rather than What do I do here I wouldn t necessarily recommend this unless you re a fan of classic science fiction and or Philip K Dick, but it s a good story, very readable, and certainly doesn t drag on at 170 pages Also, I give it bonus points for references to La Jolla and San Francisco.