Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick

“Can’t make the frug contest, Helen; stomach’s upset. I’ll fix you Ubik! Ubik drops you back in the thick of things fast. Taken as directed, Ubik speeds relief to head and stomach. Remember: Ubik is only seconds away. Avoid prolonged use.”



(*Reality warning* this “review” may affect your grip on reality!)

Once upon a time there was Ubik. Ubik wrote a story about a man called PKD. In this story, PKD was a writer. He wrote science fiction tales for a living. He was fairly successful, mostly due to the sheer number of stories he wrote. But a lot of people appeared to enjoy his work so PKD was able to keep on writing. Unfortunately, PKD never seemed to have enough money on him to pay for things like the doors to open or the shower to work, so he spent a lot of time indoors.

One day, he met a woman called Pat. She may have been a psychic, PKD wasn’t sure, but she definitely had some kind of parapsychological ability to warp time. PKD eventually deduced this after noticing he was existing in different, earlier time periods. Was he moving back in time or was it only his surroundings? His apartment was surely different to how it had been earlier in the week.

Pat was a bit of an enigma to PKD. Maybe that’s why she attracted him so much. He had an inkling the feeling was mutual, but there were outside influences suggesting otherwise. What were the mysterious messages that kept appearing on toilet walls and matchbooks? Was somebody trying to tell him something? And exactly what was this wonderful product known only as ‘Ubik’ which was being touted as the cure to all PKD’s ills?

(*End of reality warning*)

My Thoughts

I loved this book, even if it is completely bonkers; because it is completely bonkers! It comes very highly recommended. Ubik is often described as not being “an entry-level PKD novel” – many reviewers point to The Man in the High Castle or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as being suitable for new readers – but I’ve only read a few of his novels and I found this really entertaining. Okay, I’m still not entirely sure who was behind it all, nor who was working against whom, but I’m only human. I don’t think I’m an android. I haven’t taken the Voight-Kampff test or anything, but I’m pretty confident I would pass it.

Ubik is a book that asks questions of the reader. It invites you to provide your own answers, to spot the clues that may or may not lead to the truth behind it all. Ubik wants you to reach the top of that staircase, no matter how exhausted you are–(one of my favourite scenes in the book). If you feel like you are getting lost on the way, don’t worry about it. Because it’s the journey that’s important, right?…


Cover art by Jeff Jones (1970) Dell edition


Spanish edition

13 thoughts on “Ubik (1969) by Philip K. Dick

    • Madness! Thank you Admiral. The Exegesis inspired the shape of this review. Dick’s comments about how his reality was starting to resemble one of his own novels. Self-fulfilling prophecy or just too many amphetamines?


  1. Pingback: exegesis with a side of fiction: the 2016 pkd read along schedule - We are book punks.We are book punks.

  2. Also loved the opening here. And the stair climbing scene, which I think I paid extra special attention to after you mentioned it…was it on twitter?…anyway, this was some fine PKD to start the year with. Really looking forward to re-reading Radio Free Albemuth next month!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Nikki! And big thanks to you for organizing this read-along. I’m excited about the next book and looking forward to resuming the Exegesis. Have you read most of his books before?


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