Philip K. Dick/A Scanner Darkly

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A scanner Darkly is the Philip K. Dick equivalent of an autobiographical novel. He twists the American society into a very surreal setting by inflating two problematic aspects of that society: police surveillance and drug abuse. Police control is not total, but very advanced; drug abuse is a problem leading to the mental demise of many people. To deal with these drug victims, rehab clinics have sprung up all around the country, forming a sort of nationwide non-governmental, semi-federal institution.

The main character is an undercover police agent with the assignment to spy on himself; as a consequence, he starts to behave criminally and take drugs in order to be able to hand in satisfying reports filled with subversive activities. His drug intake has the effect that he can't discern between himself, his job and his act any longer, leading to his own mental breakdown and admission into one of these rehab clinics.

The novel captures the language and conversation of drug users with a rare clarity.


Through his last bit of consciousness, we see another plot twist...

The autobiographic part of the novel is explained in the addendum, where he dedicates the book to his circle of friends, many of whom seem to have suffered drug-related mental and physical illnesses, more than once leading to death. This is mirrored in the involuntary goodbyes occurring throughout the story.