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Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

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Jason Taverner woke up one morning to find himself completely unknown. The night before he had been the top-rated television star with millions of devoted watchers. The next day he was just an unidentified walking object, whose face nobody recognised, of whom no one had heard, and without the I.D. papers required in that near future.

When he finally found a man who would agree to counterfeiting such cards for him, that man turned out to be a police informer. And then Taverner found out not only what it was like to be a nobody but also to be hunted by the whole apparatus of society.

It was obvious that in some way Taverner had become the pea in in some sort of cosmic shell game - but how? And why?

Philip K. Dick takes the reader on a walking tour of solipsism's scariest margin in his latest novel about the age we are already half into.

204 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 1974

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About the author

Philip K. Dick

1,660 books19.6k followers
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.

In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,239 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
June 4, 2023
Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said is one of Philip K. Dick’s best.

Yet unlike many main characters from PKD’s books, protagonist Jason Taverner is not a misunderstood, delusional recluse, but rather a world famous, genetically superior celebrity. Supporting protagonist Felix Buckman is a police general with only a handful of individuals more powerful. PKD uses these worldly heroes to illustrate the transience and frailty of what people understand as important. Taverner spends a couple of days where no one knows or even recognizes him. Buckman is made to encounter a reality where he is far from in control, and where the whole basis of his power, of the world’s power structure is shown to be ephemeral and false.

Set in a dystopian future where the United States is ruled by a police state after a second civil war, and where students are hunted down and interred in forced labor camps, Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said brings together many mainstay themes of PKD’s work.

This one is more over the top than most, and this is where Dick is at his best.

*** 2023 reread -

If I ever get the time I could draw a spectrum for PKD writing. On one end would be realism, populated mainly by his later books and his mainstream work. On the other end would be the absurdist stories that are more caricature than real, those works that revel in weirdness and that demonstrate his great imagination but told with a wink and a nod.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said would be a little left of center, over on the absurdist side of the continuum.

Or! Like Shakespeare’s works, this might be akin to a comedy whereas Dick’s A Scanner Darkly would be like a Shakespearean tragedy.

Having read this before, I was able to hone in on many references that I may not have understood last time and I felt like I better enjoyed the comedic quality of Dick’s writing this time. Several laugh out loud scenes and even more language that made me smile.

First published in 1974, this is a transitional work between his wild amphetamine fueled production of the sixties and his later theological works.

This is also the most sexual of his works. Bad relationships are a staple of PKD stories but here he is almost Silverbergian in his soft porn depictions. Almost. Robert A. Heinlein and Robert Silverberg, the Bob and Bob of seventies SF licentiousness, have nothing to worry about from normally staid Phil.

The SF police state story with questioned reality is good (and the reality bending elements of this one were similar to a scene in Dick’s 1962 Man in the High Castle), but what really makes this so good are the asides and soliloquies delivered by our players amidst all of the PKD chaos. It is here, in Hunter S. Thompson like moments of lucidity, that Phillip K. Dick demonstrates his great genius.

Finally, if I could direct an adaption of this novel to film, I would have it animated and produced in a similar fashion to Archer.

Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,380 reviews12k followers
October 16, 2018
Flow My Tears, the

“Reality denied comes back to haunt.”
― Philip K. Dick, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - Written in 1974 and set in the near future (at that time) of 1988, Philip K. Dick’s haunting dystopian novel addresses a range of existential, social and political themes: identity and loss of identity, celebrity and ordinariness, subjective perceptions and objective realities, state sponsored mind control and drug induced mind bending, genetic engineering and emotional networking. Never a dull moment as we enter a world where every action counts and all decisions are a matter of life and death.

Chapter One provides the framework: It’s Tuesday night at eight o’clock. Along with thirty million other viewers, we’re tuned into The Jason Taverner Show, featuring none other than Jason Taverner, a David Letterman-type TV host and pop singer. And Jason loves everything about his role as singer and entertainer, most especially his fans: “To him they were the lifeblood of his public existence. And to him his public existence, his role as worldwide entertainer, was existence itself, period.”

Jason is the perfect choice as main character for this PKD novel exploring individuality since, for Jason, personal identity equals public identity. He’s a celebrity; he’s his own best fan; he’s in love with himself and envisions all of life revolving around his status as celebrity - to be Jason Taverner, to be a star, the ultimate in being alive.

The fact that Jason is special is no accident. Leading pundits and politicians in Washington D.C. decided forty-five years ago to experiment with genetic engineering, producing a batch of “sixes,” that is, individuals with tremendous magnetism, physical beauty, charm and especially CHARISMA as well as superior memory and concentration. Jason is a product of such eugenics; he’s a forty-two year old six. He is so exceptional, so extraordinary, so superior, Jason thinks the way things are will never change - he will be forever young, charismatic and beautiful. Forever Jason Taverner.

But then it happens: after suffering a violent attack and subsequent emergency surgery, Jason wakes up in a dilapidated L.A. hotel room. Jason quickly discovers, other than wearing his custom-tailored silk suit and carrying a huge wad of money in his pocket, he is completely stripped of his identity along with his personal identification cards. Nobody but nobody, not even his agent, his lawyer or his girlfriend knows a Jason Taverner. Oh, no! He's in a nasty parallel universe, a man without any way or means of identifying himself.

From this point forward, we follow Jason's odyssey through seedy and posh L.A. in an attempt to reclaim even a scrap of his past as he is forced to deal with a parade of quirky people, oddball thingamajigs, murky quagmires and impossible dilemmas. To list several:

Pols and Nats – Short for Police and National Guard. There are pol and nat road blocks and check points at nearly every traffic intersection. And these fully armed folks can be mighty cruel: after he breaks into an apartment to harass a man he labels a sexual pervert, one Jesus-freak pol shares his Bible-inspired wisdom: “All flesh is like grass. Like low-grade roachweed most likely. Unto us a child is born, unto us a hit is given. The crooked shall be made straight and the straight loaded.” Fundamentalist religion linked to drugs provides a powerful kick.

Forced Labor Camps – Many are the men and women, including thousands of students, sent off to forced labor camps. One prime reason – no legitimate ID. Jason needs some good quality false ID fast or he will be picked up and sent off to one such camp as far away as the Moon or Mars to spend his waking hours breaking rocks with a pickaxe. What a plight for Jason Taverner, the rich, famous celebrity.

Subsurface Students – In this tightly controlled police state, pols and nats surround college campuses to keep students below ground where they belong. Also, to prevent those potential troublemakers from “creeping across to society like so many black rats swarming out of a leaky ship.” The late 60s - the heyday of campus unrest in the U.S; not to be repeated in this police state.

Eddie the hotel clerk – In his new parallel world, the first person Jason meets is Eddie, who is not only a clerk and accomplished mind reader, but also, as Jason eventually learns, a police fink. PKD had his own personal issues with paranoia and he gives Jason many reasons to become paranoid. As they say, even paranoids have enemies.

Kathy –A teenage ID forger who tells Jason the pols and nats are looking at him as part of a conspiracy. Even more reason for paranoia. Jason feels the absurdity of being bound by such an ordinary person since, after all, he is a six, someone truly special.

Phone-Grid Transex Network – PKD foresees internet sex. But in his futuristic world the sex network is many times more powerful and potentially destructive. If you overdo it, your body will turn flaccid and you will burn out your brains. The pols don’t like this phone sex network; they actually shot its former sponsors – Bill and Carol and Fred and Jill. A police state that doesn't mess around.

Sterilization Bill – Government sponsored sterilization of blacks. Recall PKD wrote this novel when the 1968 race riots where fresh in his memory. In this futuristic world, it is only a matter of time, sooner rather than later, when there will be no more black in the US. Race problems solved.

Cheerful Charlie – Computerized game-person who gives advice. Not that far removed from kids continually playing and interacting with computer games on their handheld devices.

Ruth Ray – Attractive, sensitive lady who shares her philosophy of love and grief with Jason. “Grief is the final outcome of love because it is love lost.” In his smugness of being a six, Jason has difficulty relating with such sentiment since the only real love he appreciates and understands is self-love. Ah, self-love, the love that never dies, especially if one is a celebrity. And most especially if one is Jason Taverner.

Hail to the Chief - The ultimate dystopian novel: One apartment has a wall-to-wall carpet depicting Richard M. Nixon’s final ascent into heaven amid joyous singing above and wails of misery below. The wails of misery here on earth every PKD fan can picture with ease.

Drugs, Drugs, Drugs, - Who in this futuristic country could ever live a day without drugs? Alys Buckman, sister of Police General Felix Buckman, treats Jason to some mescaline. There's also the mysterious new experimental drug, KR-3, with its mind-warping effects, giving new, expanded meaning to having a bad trip.

Microtransmitters – Nearly invisible dots placed on pol and nat suspects to track their every movement. PKD wrote Flow My Tears during the time of Watergate. The author also anticipates the many advanced technological forms of surveillance.

Police General Felix Buckman fuming over two of his rivals among the police higher-ups: “They had, five years ago, slaughtered over ten thousand students at the Stanford Campus, a final bloody – and needless – atrocity of that atrocity of atrocities, the Second Civil War." No question, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said depicts a nightmarish futuristic United States police state.

American author Philip K. Dick (1928 - 1982)
Profile Image for Baba.
3,621 reviews991 followers
February 28, 2022
SF Masterworks #46: A haunting cover, a haunting constructed reality and a haunting story itself! PKD brings it all - a post Second American Civil War world where the student campuses of America were on the losing side; where the vast majority of citizens live under police martial law, and the super rich live in the clouds, albeit not literally.

Jason Taverner is a 'Six' one of the pre-destined elite, a well known and heavily feted TV star whose world turns around one day and finds himself unrecognised and living with the common people - now this would be enough for most writers but PKD takes this as just a starting point and weaves an incredible story of mystery, suspense, police brutality, dangerous liaisons, marathon telephone sex orgies and more! There are also the obligatory air/space crafts and other sci-fi staples. 8 out 12

2019 read; 2009 read b>
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews806 followers
February 10, 2017
“Love isn't just wanting another person the way you want to own an object you see in a store. That's just desire. You want to have it around, take it home and set it up somewhere in the apartment like a lamp. Love is"--she paused, reflecting--"like a father saving his children from a burning house, getting them out and dying himself. When you love you cease to live for yourself; you live for another person.”
What? This in a Philip K. Dick novel?

This is an unusual PKD book, though you could argue that all PKD books are unusual so there is nothing unusual about one of his books being unusual. What I mean is that the tone and style are different from the earlier PKD classics like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Ubik. First published in 1974 after the aforementioned classic PKD novels, Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said seems to be written during a transitional period in Dick’s style. Profanities are common place in the dialogs, something not present in Dick’s works from the 60s (I believe), and there is more depth to the characters, more compassion, and more emotional resonance.

This story is set in a dystopian 1988 USA (a “near future” at the time of writing) where the people live under a police state, anybody found at spot checks without proper documentation are liable to be summarily shipped off sent to labour camps (students especially). The novel’s protagonist is Jason Taverner, a famous singer who has his own nightly TV show with viewership in the millions. One day he wakes up in a rundown hotel and finds that nobody knows who he is, not even his closest friends and lover. The how and why of his predicament is one of Dick’s best story ideas, but the less I elaborate on that the better.

This is one of my favorite PKD books, I would rate it alongside the aforementioned Ubik, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch as the best of his works; certainly I would rate it far above his Hugo winner The Man in the High Castle of which I am not a fan. The standout feature of Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is that it is more emotional than most of his fiction. There is a sadness and sympathy to it that I do not associate with his works. That said PKD fans will be right at home with the usual Dickian trope of drug induced reality warping.

Dick’s prose is the usual utilitarian style he uses in most of his works, the dialog is often stilted as if the characters are all drug addled to some extent. If this sounds like a criticism it really is not. I like the way Dick writes, it is clear and effective for conveying the weirdness inherent in his stories. As for the dialog, his characters tend to say the oddest things out of the blue, like Jason Taverner suddenly tells a woman she looks too old for her age for no apparent reason and getting whacked on the head as a result. Dick’s sense of humour is also wonderfully weird, such as the title of Taverner’s latest hit being “Nowhere Nuthin' Fuck-up”, which he describes as a sentimental number. His depiction of 1988, of course, bears little resemblance to that year in reality with personal flying vehicles and vinyl records still very much in use. I hope this does not dissuade anybody from reading it however, I believe that it is not sci-fi writers’ job to predict the future but to speculate and provide some food for thought.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is one of Dick’s most underrated books. As usual, he makes us question the reality we live in but this time he also makes us think about how we perceive ourselves and others and how our perception affects our social interactions and relationships. An unexpectedly moving book.

This is the cover of my paperback edition from the 80s, featuring an actual crying policeman; but otherwise, has nothing to do with the plot!
Profile Image for Warwick.
845 reviews14.6k followers
December 13, 2018
“St. Paul said, ‘If I have not love then I am jack shit’... or something like that.”
—Phillip K Dick, 1977 interview

Jason Tavener, celebrity singer and television personality beloved by millions, wakes up one morning in a dingy hotel room to find that nobody has any idea who he is. His agent has never heard of him; his superstar girlfriend has never heard of him; people in the street don't recognise him. He has no ID and no papers – which in a futuristic police state is a serious problem.

What do you do – where do you go? How do you prove your identity? And more to the point, is Tavener suffering from some kind of hallucination – or, even worse, could it be his memory of being famous that's the hallucination?

Flow My Tears is in some ways a very dated novel, especially in its sexual politics. Yet I found it fascinating. It pulls together a lot of the concerns that Dick has explored in previous books and, for the first time, starts to posit some answers as well as just asking questions.

The new direction reflects the circumstances in which it was written. Since the early Sixties, Dick's books had been picking away at the notion of what is real – questioning the stability of history in The Man in the High Castle, of time in Martian Time-Slip, of subjective experience in Ubik, of objective reality itself in The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. These were books that he hammered out in a frenzy, skimmed through once to ‘edit’, and then mailed off second-class to his editors.

He started Flow My Tears the same way, in 1970, inspired by an experience with mescaline – but then a series of personal disasters interceded. His fourth wife left him, taking his baby daughter; the bank foreclosed on his house; and his amphetamine abuse peaked, leaving him racked with paranoia and bouncing between psychiatrists. In a near-suicidal panic, he mailed the manuscript of Flow to his lawyer for safekeeping. It wasn't until a couple of years later, living with the woman who would eventually become wife number five, that he calmed down enough to get the work-in-progress back and attempt to finish it.

This time, he rewrote extensively and revised the book multiple times. It shows. In contrast to the frantic, pulpy tone of his novels from the 60s – a tone that is not without charm – this feels far more measured and controlled. And for the first time, it has a real point: Dick is finally answering the question he has posed so many times. What is real? The answer – he suggests, like the hippy he is – is love. And he raises this by means of an astonishing, methodical exploration of love in all its forms – parental, fraternal, sexual, marital, incestuous, jealous, social, altruistic, material. All other sensations in the novel feed into it, even in its saddest moments – as the characters make clear:

“Grief is the most powerful emotion a man or child or animal can feel. It's a good feeling.”

“In what fucking way?” he said harshly.

“Grief causes you to leave yourself. You step outside your narrow little pelt. And you can't feel grief unless you've had love before it—grief is the final outcome of love, because it's love lost.”

The novel closes with a dreamlike encounter between strangers in an all-night gas station, and ends on the word ‘loved’. It's far from a perfect book, but it's a pretty remarkable and unusual piece of work, and, in the context of Dick's career, a clear turning-point.
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
February 7, 2020
Grand Theft Identity

An old-fashioned Western dressed as sci-fi? Could be, but with a Dickian twist: everyone loses, and no one gets the girl. Or a murder mystery? Only no one is murdered. I tried my best all the way through to pick up the thread. It eluded me entirely.

The guy in the White Hat, Jason, is an intelligent, handsome, talented and popular musical celebrity. He is also a narcissistic, misogynistic druggie who manipulates women to get where he thinks he should be. He is fundamentally amoral and bred to be that way, despite his occasional flashes of empathy. Jason is picked by the Black Hat, for reasons that really are not reasonable, to take the rap for the accidental death of Black Hat’s sister.

The Black Hat belongs to Felix, an authoritarian senior policeman who believes that anything justifies the maintenance of the established order. He has an incestuous relationship with his sister, whose intolerance for orderliness he protects from scrutiny. On the other hand, he is single-handedly responsible for shutting down forced labour camps and protecting the lives of student demonstrators. On the whole, despite his occasional flashes of conscience, he is a rat.

Jason and Felix come into contact through a vague slippage between alternative universes, which temporarily erases Jason’s identity. It’s not clear whether this is drug-induced, a criminal conspiracy, or divine forgetfulness. But the end result is that both end up more or less where they started. Jason is vindicated and has a marginally bigger audience. Felix mourns his sister’s death but gets on with his life of law enforcement. Both retire after long and comfortable lives. Then they die, apparently unmourned.

And so? I suppose there is a certain nihilism which appeals to those who are fed up with society in general... or just with Westerns. Reputation, either through celebrity or formal authority is a fleeting compensation for the battles we fight in life. I can understand that. But if that sentiment defines Dick’s target audience, the story could have been improved by killing them all off sooner.

And God alone knows what John Dowland’s composition for lute has to do with any of it. The whole thing has about as much literary merit as a computer game.
Profile Image for StefanP.
148 reviews80 followers
September 15, 2021

Živjeti znači biti lovljen.

Džejson Taverner je jedan sasvim običan čovjek. Ljudima je poznatiji po humorističkoj emisiji koju vodi i uređuje na jednom TV programu. Svijet u kome živi je glazura. Svaka jedinka je strogo kontrolisana, policajci na svakom koraku vrše legitimaciju, a ako je nemate ili niste zavedeni u njihove računare... To je jedna vrsta svijeta. Džejson Taverner će nestati i upoznati novi svijet.

Za Dika stvarnost je igračka koja se poigrava čovjekovim mentalnim stanjem. Kao što se čovjek igra sa Rubikovom kockom i izmješta njene boje, tako stvarnost izmješta čovjeka i stvara mu privid da on arhetipski percepira pojave oko sebe. Jedinka kada vidi nešto, nehotice kaže "to je to" a onda onaj mehanizam u vidu vremena mu na duže staze otkriva da nije "to baš to." Kao da to vrijeme odradi posao za njega, te mu stvara novi vid pojave. I tako on ostane da zjapi na horizontu, čekajući njegovu Prijateljicu da zajedno odšetaju do Hada.

Stvarnost je izdvojena od percepcije čovjeka. Što će FKD kroz lik Džejsona Tavernera najviše izraziti. On će njegov unutrašnji svijet prvo sučeljavati sa samim sobom pa onda dovoditi u pitanje odnos i uticaj unutrašnjeg sa spoljnim svijetom. Ono što on vidi je jedan prikaz stvarnosti. Takva stvarnost je sklona neprestanoj promjeni i meandrira nezavisno od ljudskog opažanja. Ako se poslužimo Ovidijevom - "Sve se mijenja, ništa ne propada." Tako ni ljudske stvarnosti ne propadaju. Postoji mnoštvo stvarnosti; ili svijet izmjenjenih aspekata po Dikovim riječima. Čovjek se samo stapa iz jedne u drugu stvarnost. Tako da se može reći da je Dik imao solipsistički pogled na svijet. On gleda samo ono što mu se predstavi u datom trenutku u odnosu na eone stvari oko sebe. Socijalni slojevi jedinke se mijenjaju kako se mijenjaju spoljni faktori. Da je Dik danas živ možda bi dobacio onu "Sve je oko čovjeka pametno, samo on to nije."

Dik koristi elemetne fantastike kao most preko koga će da prebaci svoj prtljag spoznaje. Nešto i mi iz tog prtljaga treba da izvučemo.
Profile Image for Brett C.
806 reviews180 followers
May 2, 2021
This is my third PKD book and I enjoyed it. I appreciate how his books are extremely unique and original. This story was like the others: simple, clearly written, and to-the-point. His writing style stays away from over embellishing and over the top verbiage; his stories are always very direct.

This story gives us a look into a police state, identity, senses of control (or loss of control), and other details associated with a authoritarian society born out of a Second Civil War.

The key to reading PKD is understanding his stories are mere snapshots during a fictional timeline. The story really does not have a beginning or an end; the story exists for a segment of time, involving the characters during this focal point, and lastly the writing gives you space to fill in the blanks with your own imagination.

I enjoyed this one and would recommend Ubik as a stronger book (in my opinion). Thanks!
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,035 reviews1,186 followers
October 13, 2013
You can criticise Dick all you like for being wrong about flying cars, or thinking the LP record was for ever (note: it isn't?), but he is writing science fiction and, as Ray Bradbury points out far more eloquently than will I, that is about ideas. It isn't about sentence construction, plot or character development. If you wanted to, it is easy enough to criticise this book on all these counts, but so what? Why would you bother? What matters is....


Profile Image for Ray.
Author 17 books315 followers
October 25, 2021
Of all the classic science fiction authors: Nobody but nobody predicted our surreal 21st century like P.K. Dick! It can't be said enough.

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is a dystopian novel, which is a worn genre at this point. Yet what sets it apart is the way it intersects a deeply paranoid police state... with shallow celebrity pop culture. Feeling familiar yet?

The main character is a very unlikable talk show host, who finds himself an "unperson" one morning: nobody remembers who he is and he doesn't have any papers in order. The way he maneuvers this society makes him an interesting point-of-view character. There is horrifying racism, disturbing sexual deviancy, and very messed up drug trips. 1970s-era Philip K. Dick really lets loose.

Another interesting aspect is giving the readers a perspective of a police general within this setting. Because there are no good guys, or at least we just aren't focusing on the good guys. While the young students in internment camps are only talked about as background, the main guy running for his life couldn't be less worthy of rooting for. This is no Winston Smith. The police figure on the other hand is trying to uncover the mystery, while somewhat doing the best they can in this horror of a world.

A criticism of the novel is the way it resolves in the end. Not to spoil, but the ambiguity is more or less explained by the end. Perhaps this is what makes Dick a science fiction writer, and not a magical realist, because the literary characterization still needs a somewhat pseudoscientific explanation.

When analyzing Flow My Tears, looking through the lens of pulp fiction and 70s counterculture is the point, and I certainly think it's still valid as we are two decades in to the next century. Sure it would be written a different way today, but this shouldn't take away the impact of the text. While less essential than other works by the author, it still holds up well and is an excellent read for completists and casual readers alike.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,599 reviews8,732 followers
November 2, 2016
Probably 3.5 stars, but I tend towards grade-inflation with authors I admire, so -- just to be safe -- I'm rounding down on this one (until I decide I want to round up in 3 years). I liked the first 4/5, but the last quintile bugged a little. It started brilliantly, but ended with a J. Leno (long explanation of the joke just told). It was like towards the end PKD discounted his readers would get it, so he left simple instructions (remove plastic before eating) and tied the whole thing off neat (with complementary happy ending). Other than the explanatory ending and the relative happy ending for the narrator, the book was fascinating and at times brilliant.
Profile Image for Iloveplacebo.
384 reviews214 followers
October 21, 2021
Una locura.
Una locura bien escrita.
Una locura bien escrita y con sentido.
Una locura bien escrita, con sentido y Ubik.

Vale lo del Ubik no estoy segura, pero lo del resto sí.

Quizás no es tan buen libro como 'Ubik', pero se nota que es del mismo autor, y eso es una garantía, al menos para leer algo bueno, bien escrito y con una trama compleja (tanto que no se si la he comprendido del todo).

¿Me ha gustado? Todavía no estoy segura. Diría que sí, pero con algún pero.
¿Es un mal libro? No, ni de broma.

Una historia que te deja pensando, y pensando mucho la verdad.
Creo que merece la pena darle una oportunidad.
Profile Image for David.
497 reviews70 followers
August 19, 2023
Brilliant! I've read a number of good books this year - some of them particularly good - but this was my favorite, esp. when it comes to complete satisfaction and absence of lulls. (It also wins for 'Best Title'; I'm a sucker for a distinctive / evocative title.) 

This is only the second work I've read by PKD, following the terrific 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' Not surprisingly, the two novels share a somewhat similar tone, but there are marked differences. Primarily, 'Flow...' - its somber title notwithstanding - has a potent, comic bite to it that I don't recall in 'Androids'. ~ not a wild ride of laughs, mind you, but a consistent cynical touch, displayed by a protagonist (Jason Taverner) who, early on, finds himself in a WTF-turnaround situation. 

In short, his world suddenly and completely changes; or, rather, his place in it does. Or, rather... he wakes up in a hospital, having survived a (bizarrely) horrific attack, only to eventually discover there is nothing on record or on file anywhere that can vouch for his existence. He has no authentic ID. In an alternate reality that otherwise basically looks familiar to him. He's a walking / talking nonentity. 

Being a super-popular but jaded tv celebrity, Jason is going to have a sardonic attitude about that. And he'll also be something of a fugitive; a pawn in the hands of (what else?) the police state. Things always tend to be much livelier in an alternate reality; kind of like a French farce, only deadlier. And eventually - here - much darker.

The actual plot (incorporating a small parade of peripheral women, the way a James Bond novel might) is not all that complicated, it may just seem that way due to some of the sci-fi elements and jargon. None of that should throw you. You. Do. Not. Need. To. Slow. Down. Your. Reading. To. 'Get. It.' All. All that you need to understand will be revealed, just keep going. 

Now I'll contradict myself, somewhat. Throughout the first half of the book, I took breaks after each chapter - not because I was having a hard time following things but because the chapters (even though on the short side, all of them) are rather rich in action and detail. It's a busy little book. I was savoring.

But from the halfway point, I more or less read without stopping, as if moved by centrifugal force.

I had been told that PKD's books, esp. those near the end of his writing career (which would include 'Flow...') can be abstruse and vexing, but I didn't find that to be true. I found the writing to be, by turns, engaging, elliptic, straightforward (in its own way), (sometimes menacingly) poetic, funny ("It's probably the man from upstairs. He borrows things. Weird things. Like two fifths of an onion."), teasing, of course tense, and (sometimes) even quite tender (esp. the penultimate chapter; sooo good!). 

If, after reading, you find there are certain conundrums that leave you restless, YouTube has various clips about PKD - his life and his work - and some of the clips are specifically about this novel. Personally I found them fascinating and I recommend them, to supplement. But my advice is to not watch them prior to your reading of the book. Not so much because of spoilers... but because the 'Flow...' experience is a unique one the first time out. You won't want it to be affected. You will want the full PKD effect.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews277 followers
June 25, 2020
DAW Collectors #146

Cover Artists: Hans Ulrich Osterwalder , Ute Osterwalder.

Name: Dick, Philip Kindred, Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA, 116 December 1928 - 02 March 1982.

Alternate Names: , Mark Van Dyke, Chipdip K. Kill, Richard Phillipps.

"Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said" was published in 1974, the same year Philip K. Dick had his famous 'revelation' that led to his extremely different later works such as VALIS. Presumably this book was completed before that revelation. It stands as perhaps the last of what might be considered his "middle period." (If we call the 'early period'. This book begins the 'middle period' maybe along with his Hugo winner, "The Man in the High Castle" (1962) this book is quite characteristic of that body of work, though to my mind it ranks below the peak of his oeuvre.

Jason Taverner is a successful pop singer (more in the Frank Sinatra mode than in any plausible 70s mode), and also the host of a very successful TV variety show. He lives in the US in 1988, in a future where almost all black people have either been killed or sterilized. There are flying cars, but otherwise the milieu is somewhat seedy and not too different from our real 1974. He believes himself to be a "six," one of a group of genetically enhanced individuals.

Then one day Jason Taverner is erased from existence.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
875 reviews2,273 followers
October 3, 2021

Vanishing Act (The Disappearance of a Celebrity)

This novel starts with a Kafkaesque premise.

The protagonist, singer and entertainer Jason Taverner, regains consciousness after surgery for what his doctor calls a "somatic invasion". He has been used to having 30 million fans for his weekly television programme. Now he has woken up, not so much a Kafkaesque insect, as an ex-celebrity, in "a lousy, bug-infested cheap wino hotel...like he had lived in years ago, at the start of his career...back when he had been unknown and had no money".

Jason lives in a police state. The official records of his existence have been removed or erased, and nobody recognises him. He has no identity, celebrity or adulation. He's like an influencer, demagogue or ex-politician who has had their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok accounts permanently suspended:

"To him his public existence, his role as world-wide entertainer, was existence itself, period."

Now, without his public profile, he no longer exists, he is a non-person, an unperson. He is -

"The man with no data on him anywhere in the world...

"I don't exist...

"There is no Jason Taverner. There never was and there never will be. The hell with my career; I just want to live. If someone or something wants to eradicate my career, okay; do it. But aren't I going to be allowed to exist at all? Wasn't I even born?"

The Second Civil War

This isn't just a novel about the temporality of celebrity.

One of the most interesting aspects of Dick's novel is the back story that is covertly drip-fed into the narrative.

Written in 1970 (but first published in 1974), the novel itself appears to be set in the United States in 1988. However, about five years before, a Second Civil War had commenced. (Strangely, no mention is made of the First Civil War.)

The Second Civil War seems to have followed an insurrection by students in 1983 (a date still in the future, at the time of writing). The War was focused on university campuses across America, in particular, Columbia, Berkeley and Stanford. Dick mentions that, five years ago, ten thousand students at the Stanford campus were slaughtered, "a final bloody – and needless – atrocity of that atrocity of atrocities, the Second Civil War". The state has now barricaded the campuses and forced the students underground, literally. The insurrections recall the student protests in Columbia in 1968 and Berkeley in 1969.

If there is to be an analogy with actual events in the novel, I'd argue that the First Civil War would have related to the period in the 1940's and 1950's when the House Un-American Activities Committee, Senator Joseph McCarthy and Congressman Richard Nixon were pursuing Communists, Fellow Travellers and members of the (Old) American Left. In a way, then, the Second Civil War was a battle against the New Left that developed in the sixties.

Governor Ronald Reagan alleged that the Berkeley campus was "a haven for communist sympathisers, protesters, and sex deviants." When Reagan used the National Guard to quell the protest, he rationalised, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement."

Forced-Labor Camps and Fantidulous Reds

During the Second Civil War, the American state established forced-labor camps that contained both white political protesters and blacks who had participated in protests like the Watts riots in 1965.

Dick suggests that the camps were originally more like death camps, but that they were permitted to operate only for the duration of the Second Civil War.

The "policeman" of the novel's title is Police General (formerly Police Marshal) Felix Buckman, who discovered that he had the authority to close any camps in the public interest or if they weren't operating at a profit.

Whether or not he did this out of some empathy with the inmates, he made a lot of enemies in the ranks of the police (now called the pols) and the national guards (now called the nats):

"The police maintain a lot of agents among the students agitating for a final shootout with the police...which the police and nats are hopefully waiting for."

Buckman is perceived as "red" and is demoted from the role of Marshal to General. When Buckman's twin sister (Alys) reveals this to Jason Taverner, he responds, "Your red is fantidulous."

The Fantidulous Red Philip K. Dick

Space Corridors

As often occurs in Dick's novels, the characters take advantage of (or are taken advantage of by) illicit or licit drugs.

By analogy with the CIA's promotion of mind control drugs (such as MK-ULTRA), Buckman's pols are experimenting with a newly-developed drug called KR-3.

Alys presumably obtains access to some KR-3 through Felix ("she must have ripped it off from the [police] academy's special-activities lab...she always tried anything new").

She tries it on herself and possibly on Jason, but

The explanation of how KR-3 works is worth setting out in detail, because it reflects the metaphysical concerns of much of Dick's fiction:

KR-3 is believed to interfere with the brain's ability to "stabilise reality in such a fashion that sequences can be ordered in terms of before-and-after - that would be time - and, more importantly, space-occupying as with a three-dimensional object as compared to, say, a drawing of that object:

"Now, one aspect of space is that any given unit of space excludes all other given units; if a thing is there it can't be here. Just as in time if an event comes before, it can't also come after.

"The exclusiveness of space, we've learned, is only a function of the brain that handles perception. It regulates data in terms of mutually restrictive space units. Millions of them. Trillions, theoretically, in fact. But in itself, space is not exclusive. In fact, in itself, space does not exist at all.

"A drug such as KR-3 breaks down the brain's ability to exclude one unit of space out of another. So here versus there is lost as the brain tries to handle perception. It can't tell if an object has gone away or if it's still there. When this occurs the brain can no longer exclude alternative spatial vectors. It opens up the entire range of spatial variation. The brain can no longer tell which objects exist and which are only latent, unspatial possibilities. So as a result, competing spatial corridors are opened, into which the garbled percept system enters, and a whole new universe appears to the brain to be in the process of creation.

"Anyone affected by it is forced to perceive irreal universes, whether they want to or not...Trillions of possibilites are theoretically all of a sudden real; chance enters and the person's percept system chooses one possibility out of all those presented to it. It has to choose, because if it didn't, competing universes would overlap, and the concept of space itself would vanish...the brain seizes on the spatial universe nearest at hand.

"But to the subject an actualised environment envelops him, one which is alien to the former one that he has always experienced, and he operates as if he had entered a new world. A world with changed aspects..."

"[They] occupied two space corridors at the same time, one real, one irreal..."

"He [Jason] passed over to a universe in which he didn't exist."

The Ride of the Valkyries

As Jason struggles to find proof that he exists (unaware that the cause of his existential dilemma might be drug-related), he encounters a number of women.

Kathy Nelson fakes his ID cards for him, but turns out to be a police informer.

Mary Anne Dominic is a potter, who gives Jason a blue vase that will come to be valued.

Alys Buckman is a "Valkyrie", a fetishistic Amazonian:

"full six feet in height…she wore tight black pants, a leather shirt, red, with tassle fringes, gold hooped earrings, and a belt made of chain. And spike heeled shoes."

If that sounds appealing to you, beware: she warns Jason, "Don’t make any sexual advances toward me. If you do I’ll kill you."

I Love, Therefore I Exist

Jason suspects that she might be a lesbian. He wonders, "Where was her head sexually? With other lesbians? Was that it?"

But that isn't necessarily it. Alys soon reveals, "All my libido, my sexuality, is tied up with Felix...We’ve lived an incestuous relationship for five years. We have a child, three years old…Barney is his name."

Felix is Alys' brother. She is "his twin, his sister, his wife." Like Sigmund and Siglinde (from Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries"), she is both "Schwester und Braut. Sister and bride."

The Flow of Tears

When Alys overdoses, Felix cries genuine tears. It is these tears that flow. He realises that "I really must have loved her."

In the dedication, Dick declares:

"The love in this novel is for Tessa,
And the love in me is for her, too.
She is my little song."

Tessa would become Dick's fifth wife.

However, it's tempting to question whether Dick recognised some affinity with Felix, even though he is an (empathetic) authority figure. Dick had lost his own twin sister, Jane, only six weeks after their premature birth.


Twin Sister Bridal Design

You know you're my twin,
My sister, my bride.
Our love, they think it's a sin,
You can't say we never tried.
I feel only grief within,
Now finally that you've died.

Flow My Tears

Flow my tears,
Rue my fears.
Watch the seers
Reel in the years.

Profile Image for A..
351 reviews48 followers
November 28, 2022
Jason Taverner, famoso conductor de TV, millonario, gloriosamente exitoso con el sexo opuesto y narcisista con ganas (por lo demás, un tipo normal) sufre un "peculiar" ataque y despierta en, algo así, como un Universo paralelo. Vamos, uno muy parecido al Universo de toda la vida, excepto por un detalle: en ese Universo Jason Taverner no existe.

Ciencia ficción con elementos oníricos y realidad alterada, con un desarrollo plagado de paranoia y angustia que impide desprenderse fácilmente de la lectura. La desoladora lucha de Jason por entender qué diantres está pasando, se convierte instantáneamente en la del lector, que no puede evitar imaginarse en semejante trance. Y este punto en particular está muy bien logrado. El desenlace, como suele ocurrir, encanta y desencanta por partes iguales. Tal vez desencante un poco más. En todo caso, valoremos disfrutar del camino.
Profile Image for Frankh.
845 reviews164 followers
January 8, 2016

That .GIF image perfectly captures the range of distinct reactions that Philip K. Dick's Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said got out of me in the expanse of reading it in the last four days. There was bafflement--then disbelief--then mild disgust--and, finally, karmic relief. Don't get me wrong, it's not a badly written book. Of course fucking not, it's PHILIP K. DICK! His outstanding Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep will forever destroy me in this world and in another parallel existence because asdfghjklmalfunctionerror10101...

Anyway, that being said, something along the way went wrong as I peruse through the two hundred and four pages of this novel; I can't really pinpoint exactly where, but all I know is that I couldn't help but alternate between confusion and rage as I went on. Originally, around eighty pages or so, I was going to rate it with four stars because, right from the get-go, I was just enjoying the brisk, no-nonesense yet highly engrossing pacing and linguistic style that Dick had incorporated in his storytelling; the breadth of the entire narrative work felt so much lighter than Do Androids Dream, honestly, making it easy for me to keep up with every twist and turn as I follow the protagonist Jason Taverner, a government-experimented Six which basically means a person with enhanced physical/sexual appeal and whatever attractive aptitude there is. He's a former musician-turned celebrity talk show host and in a relationship with another icon named Heather Hart, also a Six.

After a confrontation with one of the women he duped and took advantage of, promising her a career in showbiz only to sleep with her a few times, he was left physically compromised and woke up in a dingy motel room with only a wad of cash on hand but with no trace of discernible legal records of proof of identity whatsoever. It's as if he's been literally deduced to non-existence.

Set in a fictional futuristic world of 1988 in the United States where everything seems to be under the command of a rampant police state where laws and legislation are just plain FUCKED-UP (sexual legal consent is reduced to thirteen years of age; African-American lineage is sanctioned to die out), the premise and the mystery that this book are hitched on were promising and I really did eat it all up in the first two days of reading. By the fourth day, however, as I stare blankly at the last page (right after containing myself from convulsing in laughter), I realized it had more to do with my unmistakable dislike for every goddamn character featured in the book with the exception of the police general Felix Buckman (whom I was 50/50 with) and the very brief insert of one Mary Anne Dominic (who really should have been a major character as oppose to some flimsy extra in the background).

Other than those two, I cringe my nose at the rest, more particularly in vile contempt for the overall way the female characters are portrayed, the greatest offenders of them all have to be the insecure, selfish and self-entitled paranoid bitch Heather Hart, and the clinically insane (sort of a) sexual predator who is skilled in the art of emotional blackmail, Kathy Nelson. The least offenders have to be Ruth Mae (whose speech about love and grief was actually pretty philosophical--too bad it came off completely dissonant to her general characterization), and the bisexual (pansexual?) fetish-driven drug addict Alys who had an incestuous affair with her twin brother and sired a son with him. And YES she is less offensive than Hart and Nelson because at least Alys had a personality I did enjoy reading about while the other two were so emotionally flat and perceived only in how the main male character objectifies them. They're placeholders that reflect his sexual frustration and inadequacy which make them rather one-dimensional miserable fuckers.

Normally, I could overlook gender-biased portrayals if they serve the story or a theme in the narrative. However, it didn't feel like these poorly characterized female characters ever served a purpose except to interact with the male protagonist, Jason Taverner. I don't have any kind of concern about his character since he took that mescaline drug. I suppose I eagerly wanted to know what happened to him that he lost his identity and people don't remember him at all in spite of being a popular son of a bitch. My interest in his welfare continued to decline the more he showed what a pompous chauvinist he was (although his very short interaction with Mary Anne Dominic rekindled some sympathy because that was the only sweet and humanizing moment for his character in this book).

Then again, everyone in this book is miserable--and not even in a compelling way that makes me sympathetic for them. Whatever end they got (Dick was kind enough to wrap up their fates nicely in his Epilog) is something they more than deserved, in my brutally honest opinion. It's actually great that Dick didn't leave it to chance, or his readers' imaginations, as to how these characters' fates came to an end because I personally didn't form any sort of connection with them to ponder about what happened in their lives after the novel finished. So thank Loki that Dick inquisitively wrapped it all up. Phew.

I love character-driven stories; I root for characters with problems and struggles that make me sympathetic to their plights; characters who later on develop self-awareness of their bad choices instead of just going through the motions of being victims forever. None of the characters in this book ever grew or did anything that could have redeemed them, with the exception of Mary Anne (who is so slight of a character that she only appeared in six or eight pages).

I did LOVE THE ENDING though. Basically, the beautiful blue vase that was the product of love, commitment and talent that Mary Anne produced was able to be displayed in a museum (while she had a career in ceramics; how ironically bittersweet and awful was it that the shoe-in extra gets a happy ending?) AND MORE OR LESS OUTLIVED EVERY MISERABLE FUCKER IN THIS BOOK. That was poetic justice if nothing else.

In any case, I will keep reading more of Philip K. Dick's books because THERE ARE SO MANY OUT THERE and I am looking forward to acquaint myself more with his writing. Overall, Flow my Tears, the Policeman Said just didn't work for me as a sum of its parts, especially when the parts are composed of characters that I perceived to be grimy, irresponsible disablers of human dignity and progress. The mystery plot and the answer concerning Jason Taverner's sudden lack of identity was still a pretty thrilling read, though.



Profile Image for Stuart.
722 reviews269 followers
September 11, 2016
This is my fifth PKD book this year, and while I thought it was beautifully written in parts, and its depiction of a police state appropriately chilling, it lacked many of the reality-bending twists and macabre humor of some of his best books, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and UBIK.

The main characters Jason Taverner and Felix Buckman were sufficiently troubled and complex to keep my interest, but the events of the middle portion of the book dragged a bit, although the ending does provide for some very moving passages that are presaged by the book's title. Still, the revelations at the end don't generate the disorientation and horror that UBIK did, nor the dark humor and satire that infuses Androids. I imagine that the pervasive use of drugs, forced labor camps, police checkpoints, and references to starving students living in underground warrens surrounded by barbed wire fences and police barricades were much more relevant at the time of the book's publication in 1974, but it doesn't have as much shock value now. Still, PKD gets deep into his characters' minds and probes some uncomfortable places with empathy and insight, but this wasn't my favorite of his. I'm looking forward to reading A Scanner Darkly next, which I've heard good things about.
Profile Image for Richard.
1,147 reviews1,044 followers
March 9, 2011
This is a somewhat typical Philip K. Dick novel, albeit not quite as good as I expected.

PDK is mostly famous for the movies that have been made from his novels. His books are a bit obscure, even among many Science Fiction fans, and for a good reason: he's not a very good storyteller.

Now, scifi fans are frequently a tolerant bunch. Among them are fans that will tolerate abysmal writing because the author nails the science (typically physics). Others couldn't care less about hard science, but want to see interesting projections of the technology our grandchildren will get to play with (or be oppressed by).

But PDK doesn't do well at the visionary technology thing: this book was written in 1974, and he had folks who were fifty years old and had been genetically bred to be superior humans; he had nuclear weapons the size of sesame seeds that could be secretly planted on people and detonated remotely to assassinate them; he had rocket cars and interplanetary travel... but he also was still using phonograph records because the story was set in 1988!

He doesn't do stories too well, either. This one had some pretty glaring holes in the plot once you spend a few minutes pondering everything.

And even with all that, it simply wasn't well thought out. His protagonist is desperately trying to solve the puzzle his life has become, and it turns out a character not even introduced until two-thirds into the book is responsible. Had PDK gone to a writing workshop or handed his story to a writing coach, they probably would have told him he was crazy.

But, frankly, those that enjoy him will overlook all of this, because one doesn't read PDK for plot coherence, visionary futurism or character development. He has this quirk in his brain that lets him spin out freakishly interesting puzzles of an existential nature.

The movie folks love him because they can grab this central nugget of bizarreness, "re-imagine" his characters, completely re-write the dialog, and get — hopefully — a conceptually fascinating film. A film version of Flow My Tears is in development; see here. Long after his death, PDK remains very popular in Hollywood, with over seven films in development or production.

But he simply doesn't tell his stories well, so I doubt I'd ever give him five stars. And Flow My Tears suffers because the protagonist's existential crisis is philosophically less interesting than I've come to expect. Sure, there's a crisis, but it isn't philosophical or psychological, and only existential in a superficial manner.

This isn't a good book for PDK beginners. For anyone curious, watch one of the better movies (Blade Runner, from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, or Minority Report, from the short story The Minority Report), then read the matching story and consider the differences and similarities and decide whether you can enjoy the unpolished version.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,331 followers
October 30, 2009
Phillip K. Dick is a philosopher in a pulp writer's body. His books reads like pulp fiction in style but are loaded with philosophical inquires regarding reality and perception. Sometimes so much so that the text can't keep up with it. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said is one example. The plot centers around a celebrity who finds himself no longer remembered. To be more precise, he no longer exists. All his identity is wiped out and no one knows him not even his friends. This is actually one of his more straight forward stories but all the gimmicks of a Dick novel are there; the mind altering drugs, people removed from a safe environment into the unknown, police states and malevolent authorities. Some of this may seem well worn to the casual reader However it is important to realize no one was writing stories like this before Phillip K Dick. Flow My Tears is a good read but I would recommend a couple others before this one, like Man in The High Castle, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or Martian Timeslip. But whatever you choose, anyone into science fiction or even 20th century literature, should read at least one Dick novel.
Profile Image for  amapola.
282 reviews32 followers
June 6, 2018
Un distopico con le cadenze del thriller: in una società futura, repressiva e disumana, un uomo famosissimo, che conduce uno spettacolo televisivo da trenta milioni di telespettatori, una mattina si sveglia e scopre di non essere più nessuno; lui non esiste, è stato cancellato dalla memoria del pianeta. Inizia così la sua disperata corsa in cerca di una salvezza che appare impossibile.
Detta così sembra la solita storia del nostro eroe contro tutti. Ma questo è Philip Dick, non uno scrittorucolo qualsiasi. La sua fantasiosa visionarietà si sposa con le domande più profonde di ogni uomo: chi sono io e di che cosa è fatta la realtà?
Philip Dick scrive male, è vero, e forse una storia del genere l’avrebbe raccontata meglio qualcun altro, ma certamente non con la stessa potenza e profondità, non con la stessa sensibilità e lucidità. L’imperfezione di Philip Dick, ancora una volta, mi ha coinvolta e commossa. Mi ci sono specchiata.

In epigrafe questi versi, tratti da una composizione di John Dowland del 1596:
Scorrete mie lacrime, dalla vostra fonte sgorgate!
Per sempre esiliato, lasciatemi gemere;
dove il nero uccello della notte
la triste infamia di lei canta,
lì lasciatemi vivere sconsolato.


Voi chiamatela pure solo fantascienza, se volete. Io non ci sto.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
26 reviews
April 26, 2014
This is a mysterious book that raises many more questions than it answers. Among the questions this book has inspired me to ask:

-How on earth could I have spent a year and a half in love with a woman who told me this was her favorite novel?

-Is there a time/space-altering drug that can transport me to a universe where I never wasted my time on this book?

-Am I honestly supposed to believe that a world in which not everyone cares about the existence of a pompous white dude is some kind of dystopia?

-What's with Philip K. Dick's obsession with lesbians, anyway?

Conclusion: when I'm in the mood to read sci-fi, I'll stick to Octavia Butler and her ilk, thankyouverymuch.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
686 reviews309 followers
April 3, 2023
“Un uomo, pensó, non piange per il futuro o per il passato, ma per il presente”.

Tercer libro que leo de Philip K Dick y como siempre me ocurre con este señor no sé si su obra me ha gustado o no. Típico.

Esta novela me la he leído en italiano. Su nivel de idioma oscila entre un B1-B2, probablemente un B1 avanzado. Su prosa es simple, no cuenta con excesivas descripciones, por no decir casi inexistentes; tampoco cuenta con un vocabulario especifico de ciencia ficción ya que todo trascurre en la Tierra y la mitad de los capítulos son reflexiones del protagonista sobre lo que le sucede.

“Ma soffrire: significa morire ed essere vivo nello stesso tempo. L’esperienza più assoluta più soverchiante che puoi provare.”

Ahora, en cuanto al libro en sí, he de admitir dos cosas: una buena y una mala.

La primera y la buena es que Dick tiene ideas muy alocadas pero impresionantes para sus libros, su prosa, como dije antes es sencilla y no se anda por las ramas. Se nota que es una persona con una mente bastante amueblada para poder estructurar una novela de este calibre; me explico, aunque parezca una novela fácil, en realidad es bastante compleja y el autor ha sabido actuar sobre ella.

“Sono come Byron, pensó, che combatte per la libertà, che offre la vita per la Grecia. Solo che io non combatto per la libertà: combatto per una società coerente”.

La segunda y la mala es que me he pasado como casi todos es que estás muy perdido hasta mitad del libro o incluso más. El autor no se digna en darte ni siquiera una misera respuesta a todas tus preguntas, sino que encima como dice la expresión, no hace más que rizar el rizo y llega a un momento que llega a molestar. Menos mal que he leído el libro de poco a poco, uno o dos capítulos por día, porque siento que si lo hubiera seguido hubiera acabado bastante quemada. Asimismo, he de admitir que ninguno de los personajes consiguió mi simpatía, acabé odiándolos a todos, sobre todo al protagonista.

“La sofferenza è l’emozione più potente che un uomo o un bambino o un animale possono provare. È un sentimento buono”.

En conclusión, yo si recomendaría esta obra y este autor, aunque me supongo que habrá otras mejores obras a tener en cuenta.

“Ma voglio sentire dolore. Voglio versare lacrime”.
Profile Image for Sandy.
490 reviews88 followers
April 13, 2012

Despondent over the failure of his fourth marriage and at the same time stimulated to fresh creativity after his first mescaline trip, cult author Philip K. Dick worked on what would be his 29th published sci-fi novel, "Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said," from March to August 1970. Ultimately released in 1974, an important year in Phil's life (the year of his legendary "pink light" incident), the book went on to win the prestigious John W. Campbell Memorial Award, was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, and has been a fan favorite ever since. Incorporating many of the themes, tropes and obsessions that would later be subsumed under the adjective "phildickian," the novel introduces the reader to Jason Taverner, a popular singer/TV variety show host in the Los Angeles of 1988. It is a typically dystopian Dick future, in which a second Civil War has transpired, college students are in perpetual warfare with the government, and an all-pervasive police state keeps relentless tabs on the citizenry. In a classic opener--the old "what if you awoke one morning to find that no one knew who you were"--Jason is attacked by an old girlfriend with a "gelatinlike Callisto cuddle sponge," a dangerously parasitic creature. Awakening in a seedy hotel room, the popular celebrity finds that he is now a nobody; a total unknown, with no birth certificate on file, no one who remembers him, and no IDs. And in the police state of 1988 L.A., not having an ID is a very easy way to get shipped off to an FLC (forced labor camp)....

During his travails in this new reality of his, the befuddled Taverner encounters a series of women even more striking than the wacky dames that Bobby Dupea met in "Five Easy Pieces." There is Heather Hart, a fellow singer and, like Jason, a genetically engineered "six"; Kathy Nelson, an ID forger with obvious mental problems; Rachel Rae, an alcoholic old flame with a deep insecurity about aging; Alys Buckman, a leather-clad lesbian and twin sister of Police General Felix Buckman, with whom she has had a baby (!); and Mary Anne Dominic, a sweet potter (yes, ceramics and pottery again feature in this story, as they had in Dick's 1969 novel "Galactic Pot-Healer") who helps Jason at one of his lowest points. Interesting and well-drawn characters, all, but it is perhaps Felix Buckman who is the most fascinating of the bunch. Though one of the policymakers in this thoroughly frightening police state, he is shown to be quite a complex person by Dick, a writer who had undergone his fair share of harassment and intimidation by the authorities in his own time. Buckman, despite a certain ruthlessness, is also a lover and collector of old stamps, antique snuffboxes and, amusingly, old issues of "Weird Tales" magazines. Dick shows this authority figure to be capable of a certain liberalness of spirit and even--in perhaps the novel's most startling scene--spontaneously hugging a total stranger in the street. Still, Buckman reflects, in a passage that the justifiably paranoid Dick obviously related to: "Don't come to the attention of the authorities. Don't ever interest us. Don't make us want to know more about you." The real heart and soul of the novel (his are the tears that are referenced in the book's title, as well as his love of John Dowland's lute song of 1596, "Flow My Tears"), Buckman is one of Dick's most memorable and ambivalent characters.

As mentioned, many of Dick's favorite subjects get another workover in "Flow My Tears...." Thus, the book touches on divorce (Ruth Rae is said to have been married 51 times; 46 more than Phil!), cigars (Buckman smokes Cuesta Reys), classical music (Buckman ponders the relative merits of Wagner, Berlioz and others), sex (the legal age of consent in this typically wacky Dickian future is 12!), drugs (Alys is a walking pharmacopoeia, Jason himself undergoes an extremely well-portrayed mescaline experience, and pot is legally sold in packs) and, of course, the tricky subject of the plastic and elusive nature of reality. The novel is consistently inventive and filled with all manner of imaginative touches, from Alys' teeth (which are ornamented with signs of the zodiac) to luxury apartment buildings that float on jets of compressed air. It also features some offhand humor, such as the reference to phone orgy participants Bill and Carol and Fred and Jill (a nod to the 1969 film "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice") and the wall-to-wall carpet depicting Nixon's ascent to heaven! Dick, to add verisimilitude to his novel, employs throwaway references to fictional objects and uses futuristic slang expressions that no one could possibly understand (such as "jeter," "thungly," "rotive," "floogle," "gunjy" and "cheruba") except the characters in his story. A further sense of fidelity to facts is engendered when the author has Gen. Buckman, in the middle of speaking, pause "a moment to quietly fart, then continue...." What other author would do this? You've gotta love that Dick!

In addition to its compelling and touching story line, "Flow My Tears..." also provides the reader with some wonderful discussions on the importance of love ("When you love you cease to live for yourself," Ruth tells Jason), fear (it "can make you do more wrong than hate or jealousy," Jason says to Mary Anne) and, fascinatingly, art and critics (Jason grouses about critics discussing the work that he had put out 19 years earlier; in 1974, Dick's first novel, "Solar Lottery," had been released 19 years before!). It is not a perfect novel, and as usual, a close reading will reveal some inconsistencies and minor goofs. For example, the hotel clerk Eddy Pracim leaves a room at one point, but a few pages later is still present. In another scene, Jason has terminals placed on his head to record an "electrocardiogram"; that, of course, should be an "electroencephalogram." And then there are the occasional ungrammatical sentences, such as "Things which even he, at forty-two years, didn't know them all." But these are quibbles. Ultimately, "Flow My Tears..." is a tense, exciting, passionately written, inventive and moving novel, filled with memorable characters and some remarkable situations. Compulsively readable, it is Dick near the top of his form, and for many of us, modern sci-fi does not get too much better. Oh...as to the reason for Taverner's predicament, Phil DOES manage to give us a somewhat plausible, if way-out, explanation for it. But, like Felix Buckman, you might feel the need of some Darvon after hearing it!
Profile Image for Scarlet Cameo.
609 reviews384 followers
July 27, 2016
"La realidad negada regresa para atormentar. Para caer, sin previo aviso sobre la persona, y enloquecerla."

Jason Taverner es una súper estrella que un día despierta y nadie lo recuerda...a partir de ahí nos encontramos en la carrera de Jason para averiguar el porqué, el problema recae en que, en un mundo altamente controlado por la policia, sin identidad ni papeles, Jason terminará enrollándose con personas peligrosas y situaciones ilegales, en una carrera contra reloj para evitar su muerte o inclusión en los campos de trabajos forzados.

"Me he mezclado con un ser complicado, raro y desequilibrado[...]. Tan malo como no he encontrado aún en mis cuarenta y dos años"

Siendo Taverner el protagonista no es, ni de cerca, el personaje más interesante de esta historia. Entre la conversación de Ruth Rae y la misteriosa vida de Felix Buckman, Jason queda, para su suerte/infortunio, el 50% del tiempo acompañado de alguien que dará más énfasis a su historia, que permitirá ver un aspecto distinto de su personalidad y del mundo bajo el cual nos encontramos.

"Los huesos descarnados de existencia con los que todo hombre nace: ni siquiera tengo eso."

El final..creo que esté se unirá a mi pequeña lista de libros en los cuales el epílogo es lo que menos me gusto, antes de llegar a esa parte el final era abierto pero me hubiera parecido perfecto que así quedará, el epilogo nos da un vistazo a lo que sucede con todos los personajes y nos deja con la sensación de que eramos un espía durante el transcurso de la historia

"Jason Taverner y yo somos figuras de un viejo dibujo de un niño. Perdidos entre el polvo."

Esta obra es muy interiorizada, las reflexiones e inseguridades de todos los personajes están muy bien trabajados, la resolución de que es lo que sucedió con la vida de Taverner, aunque inverosímil, dentro de este mundo, podemos darla por posible, y más importante aún la paranoia que envuelve la historia, ese elemento hace que gran parte del tiempo estes pensando ¿Qué demonios está pasando? y esa pregunta va haciendo que poco a poco la historia te atrape, porque interiorizas la situación y empatizas con el terror del protagonista.

"...Pues ahora, abandonado y solitario
me siento, suspiro, sollozo,me desmayo, muero
en dolor mortal e interminable miseria"

"Oíd!, vosotras, sombras que en la oscuridad moráis,
aprended a despreciar la luz.
Felices, felices quienes en el averno
del mundo no sienten el desprecio."
Profile Image for Canon.
691 reviews80 followers
September 1, 2022


After having read a dozen or so Dick books (ha), I’m torn between thinking that he never quite expressed his vision satisfactorily — and was always somewhat frantically trying again and again after failed attempts — and that he just kept repeating the same already formed themes over and over again in slightly different versions. Perhaps he felt the former, and it appears to me, a reader, as the latter.
And perhaps corresponding to this, with most of Dick’s books I’ve read, I’ve gotten a fairly middling degree of satisfaction out of them, and yet I’m compelled to keep reading more of them.

And so I came to Flow My Tears — its title taken from John Dowland, whom, if you’ve read Dick before, you know he had a thing for. Always having his characters quote him and whatnot as if Dowland is The Weeknd or something. Well, anyhow, I think this is one of the better Dick books in terms of narrative precision and thematic cohesion.

That is to say, the plot isn’t insanely convoluted and the philosophical rants are kept to a minimum. Big pluses. When he does wax philosophical, it isn’t as if he just presses pause on the narrative to go off on a long-winded, high as fuck lecture, name dropping from Heraclitus to Wagner to David Bowie. It’s less sloppy and better tied into the story. The discussion of love and grief was quite engaging, for example. And I really liked the epilogue-what-happened-to-everybody ending. Things were weird, as they are in Dick Land, but not irritating or confusing to follow.
If I’ve given the impression of hating on Dick, let me say: far from it. I enjoy it immensely. A couple of his books I really love, and the rest have been great entertainment.

One aspect of Dick’s writing in the 70s (and beyond) that really intrigues me is his anti-rightwing satire and critique. Hence the presence of (an apotheosized) President Nixon in this, Radio Free Albemuth, and Valis (in the last two, as Ferris F. Fremont (FFF : 666)) — and probably others, since he doesn’t seem to have been someone to let a theme drop after only three books on the topic. This theme reminds me a lot of Pynchon’s Vineland — even more so because of the California college hippie pothead vibe surrounded by a fascist police state situation.
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
824 reviews192 followers
January 30, 2018
"So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power."
- Philip K. Dick, "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later"

It's going to take a while to process this one. PKD's novels often strike an existential chord and FMTTPS is no exception. Amoral TV personality Jason Taverner is attacked by a tentacled alien creature and when he awakens the following day he's...somebody else? Or nobody? As in most PKD stories, the future is an absurdist dystopia that is often a reflection of the author's life and times. So the "drug" chapter is therefore hilarious and sad all at the same time. Written towards the end of PKD's career when he had gained some literary recognition but financial success still eluded him (but prior to the "pink ray of light" encounter), FMTTPS is more challenging and raw than his earlier pulp work.
Profile Image for Mohammad.
351 reviews308 followers
August 7, 2022
انگار که فیلیپ ک.دیک و پارانویا از یکدیگر جدانشدنی هستند. دیک در کنفرانس متز فرانسه گفت شما مختارید حرف‌هایم را در‌ مورد ماتریکس و خرده‌جهان‌های دیگر باور نکنید؛ اما هرگز فکر نکنید که شوخی می‌کنم. من هم فکر نمی‌کنم که دیک شوخی داشته باشد. و الان بیش از هر وقت دیگری معتقدم که او بیشتر نویسنده‌ی جریان اصلی بوده تا یک نویسنده‌ی ژانری. پایان‌بندی کتاب چنگی به دل نمیزد
Profile Image for Chloe.
350 reviews554 followers
August 4, 2012
Jason Taverner is on top of the world. He has it all- a house in the Swiss Alps, a beautiful girlfriend, an illustrious singing career, and a hit late-night talk show. In a sense, he is Justin Timberlake (yes, Timberlake doesn't have a talk show... yet). Until one morning he awakens to find that no one knows who he is anymore, all of his IDs are gone and, in the matter of a few hours, he has become an unperson. Which, in the militarized post-Real ID future this book is set in, makes him a very obvious and tempting target for the military police.

As he goes about trying to reclaim his identity, Jason becomes enmeshed in all sorts of various interactions with various damaged women. First there's Kathy, a 17 year old psychotic forger who provides him with a fake set of papers to move through the police checkpoints and then proceeds to toy with him as to whether she gave him a valid set of papers or not. She seems a stand-in for Dick's fifth and final wife, Leslie "Tessa" Busby, to whom the book is dedicated. If Kathy is in any way based on Tessa, it is understandable that during the time he was writing this book, Dick was committed to a psychiatric ward, went on multiple amphetamine benders, and feared for his safety so much that he placed the manuscript into the care of his attorneys to protect it from the insanity of his home life. She baits him again and again, spins stories about an imprisoned boyfriend out of thin air, and continually wavers between saving Taverner from the police and turning him in herself.

Next there's Alys Buckman, the bdsm-obsessed drug addict sister/occasional lover of the Police General who is investigating Jason Taverner's lack of identity. She inveigles Jason into her home with promises of protection and then doses him with an exceptionally strong amount of mescaline and further complicates his life in ways I will not spoil for future readers. Finally there's Mary Anne, a kindly shut-in neighbor of Alys' who Jason momentarily kidnaps before having a series of existential discussions on the benefits of taking risks and who gives him one of her cherished ceramic vases.

This book is incredibly scattered, even for Dick, and there are numerous plot points that are brought up, expounded upon at length, and then forgotten almost as quickly. For instance, Jason Taverner is a Six- one of a group of genetically-advanced experimental children whose aptitude for logical thinking, persuasiveness, and sheer sexual charisma have been elevated beyond that of normal humans. Yet this has absolutely no bearing on the story whatsoever. Taverner never uses that fabled Six intelligence to find the source of his removal from high society, never acts in any way like the advanced human he is and, in fact, is easily manipulated by normal humans on a number of occasions. There is an ex-girlfriend who attacks him at the beginning of the book but who is never mentioned again. There is a police investigator hot on Taverner's trail who is summarily dismissed from the story.

Taken as a work of science fiction, this is a mediocre effort. Too chaotic and scattershot for me to ignore without comment. However, taken as a bit of autobiography- Dick trying to make sense of his failed relationships and wondering, from the depths of his benzedrine benders, whether his paranoid impulses are correct and all of the women in his life are, in fact, out to get him, the book succeeds admirably. None of the women in the story are purely evil, but mere damaged souls who are re-visiting their own damage upon his character. Definitely worth reading, but I would not recommend this to neophyte Dick readers.
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