Friday, October 29, 2010

goodreads book review: the transmigration of timothy archer, philip k. dick

The Transmigration of Timothy ArcherThe Transmigration of Timothy Archer by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

wow. well, this is pretty fresh in my mind, and it's been a couple of weeks. that doesn't surprise me though because the ideas that dick toyed with in his last cycle of books are to me the most compelling, indeed the most disturbing and challenging to my mind. dick's narrator angel archer is one of his most resonant, matter-of-fact, and yes, human. she is a rare accomplishment in terms of his development of a female character, though this may well be because she has his own very human voice, or perhaps, as i speculated as i was reading it, the voice of the twin sister he had lost so young, whose voice he alone had heard before. angel is a comfortable narrator: she guides us through the big ideas and concepts about life, and after life, and death and ancient texts easily that are spun out by dick; she is our virgil, as he references and echoes dante's commedia throughout this work. you may find, as i have, that he whets one's appetite for embarking on that journey once again. i have inferno opened here before me romanced and bemused by dick in his very loving homage: the allusions only underscore his own exploration of theological ideas. dick embeds these ideas in a further layer: his relationship with the real-life bishop james pike, and some of the incidents of his real life are spun into the title character timothy archer, and it is through him the plot that drives the pedagogy adheres.

really, one of dick's best books in terms of pacing and execution: it is often acknowledged that dick's strength lies in his ideas but here, i find very little to quibble with, in fact he allows the tension to build into an almost unbearable peak -- i actually did stop three quarters of the way through because everything seemed to be spinning out of control but when i came back, still curious to see where he would go, he eased me downward, toward my own katabasis through his words, and finally dante's.

this is really a four and a half stars review.

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