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Time Out of Joint

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Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man leading an ordinary life, except that he makes his living by entering a newspaper contest every day - and winning, every day.

But he gradually begins to suspect that his life - indeed his whole world - is an illusion, constructed around him for the express purpose of keeping him docile and happy. But if that is the case, what is his real world like, and what is he actually doing every day when he thinks he is guessing 'Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next?'

255 pages, Paperback

First published April 22, 1959

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About the author

Philip K. Dick

1,657 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 927 reviews
Profile Image for BlackOxford.
1,085 reviews68.4k followers
March 6, 2023
Below the Surface of Things Under the Hydrogen Bomb

No one takes the immaterialist philosophy of the 17th century Bishop Berkeley seriously today - that being is a result of being perceived. But perhaps we should. Isn’t this what quantum theory suggests, that only when something is noticed or measured does it become definite? And, at a more quotidian level, isn’t Berkeley’s kind of immaterialism the foundation of advertising in all its forms, from retail selling, to political campaigning, to the generating of national feeling? The only thing real is what is perceived to be real by enough people.

In Time Out of Joint, Dick explicitly takes the dear bishop at his word. But then Dick picks at a particularly loose thread. For Berkeley’s theory to work not only does everyone need to have the same perceptions, but the perceptions of each individual have to be consistent. Any dissonance among people or within anyone’s mind is problematic. Such dissonance causes doubt, and therefore inquiry, and eventually comparison of perceptions and judgments of which are right and which erroneous. Such is the perennial problem in any totalitarian state which attempts to control perception. Even the slightest lapse in propagandistic discipline will lead to trouble.

Despite their self-perception, Americans in the 1950’s lived in an arguably totalitarian state. Their perceptions of freedom was their reality. The uniformity of opinion, the banality of life, the striving to get on, the universally concealed envy, attachment to celebrity, and the vague anti-intellectualism were all part of what they meant by freedom. The shared fear of Communism and the H-bomb was a unifying perception created and sustained by government propaganda. Bishop Berkeley had been right, and America proved it.

But who watches the watchers? Who influences the influencers? Who sets the agenda for the agenda-setters? Perceptions spread like Chinese whispers, subtly evolving as they get passed on. And they’re inevitably circular; they get passed back to those who initially generated them. The big problem that the totalitarian state has is not insurrection but believing its own press. At that point its society loses touch with anything outside itself; it becomes psychotic.

Those who suspect things are not as they seem consider it is they who are psychotic. As one of Dick’s characters says to himself, “We have a hodge-podge of leaks in our reality... A drop here, a couple of drops over in that corner. A moist spot forming on the ceiling. But where's it getting in? What's it mean?” Exactly: the beginning of the end. Eventually the dam has to break and reality rushes in. Bishop Berkeley hadn’t considered death very seriously - the ultimate reality which certainly doesn’t depend on perception.

Postscript: Time Out of Joint was published in 1959. Exactly 30 years later, an episode of the television series, The Twilight Zone, entitled ‘Special Service’ had a suspiciously similar plot but no credit to Dick. Almost a decade later, the film The Truman Show was produced based on the episode. The film emphasised the sci-fi aspects of the script, making it even more like Dick’s story. Once again no credit was given to Dick. One is entitled to suspect some nefarious literary activities - right in line with the theme of Time Out of Joint. It was also produced in the same year in which the book is set. An irony about ironies? And in case you missed it just a little further below the surface: Ragle is Elgar backwards. Elgar’s 14 Enigma Variations each portray a person. Worth investigation by some young intellect with time on their hands.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 10, 2023
Philip K. Dick's Time Out of Joint may very well have influenced the producers of the film The Truman Show.

Orson Scott Card may also have gotten some ideas for Ender's Game. PKD tells this one close to the vest for the first half of the book, slowly developing the action and leaving some M. Night Shyamalan type clues along the way for the reader to pick up.

This was published in 1959, one of his earlier novels and an observant reader of PKD will notice a more subtle approach than some of his later, Kafkaesque absurd and over the top science fiction vehicles. But even this early some ubiquitous themes emerge such as latent conspiracy theories, paranoia, mirror image delusions of grandeur and references to mental illness and self destruction. Also present are familiar classical, biblical and psychological references.

Published and marketed along with his SF canon, but written during the period of his mainstream efforts and less "far out there" than many of his works.

My only criticism is that it takes a while to get where it is going, but this is good, vintage PKD.

*** 2023 reread -

Some friends and I were just mentioning this book in the context of it perhaps inspiring the producers of the 1998 Peter Weir film The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey. Without giving too much away, it wasn’t exactly like the film, but there was enough going on to suggest that there may have been a connection.

In my earlier review I also noticed a possible connection to Orson Scott Card’s writing and again I noticed what could be some allusions to, or inspiration from, Orwell’s 1984.

I consider myself something of a PKD scholar and I will be on the lookout for more possible connections between Dick and Orwell, very intriguing. If you think about it, the absurdist quality of the Ministry of Truth would be right up Phil’s alley.

Also, this time, I considered that Robert A. Heinlein may have been inspired by Dick as there are some similarities between Heinlein’s excellent Moon is a Harsh Mistress (and BTW, the Jimmy Webb song of the same title was lifted from RAH’s 1966 book and had even contacted Heinlein’s attorneys who gave him the green light after Bob stated he had no objection to Webb using the title, which was recorded by Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker and a variety of other singers). There is also records of Heinlein and Dick corresponding and even a story that Heinlein had given Phil some money one time to help out the struggling younger writer.

Ubiquitous PKD themes like unreality, questioned sanity, conspiracy theories and mass psychosis and delusions are also present in this very enjoyable 1959 publication and the then 31 year old writer played the SF down, telling this fairly straight, in a way that would make our modern writer Blake Crouch proud.

This has actually aged quite well and I may try to find more of his earlier work to delve into. This was a fun reread.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,616 reviews984 followers
June 4, 2023
SF Masterworks 55: Ragle Gumm is an ordinary Joe living in 1950s America, except for one important fact, well two; one: he lives with his married sister and her husband; and two: he's nationally known for being the continuous daily winner of an incident plotting competition in the Daily Herald (daily physical newspaper), with its cash prize!

What starts of as a idealised 1950s reality slowly becomes engulfed with suspense, paranoia and conspiracy as Dick shares his view of 1950's idyllic America of being only a façade with something else darker going on underneath and/or just round the corner. An early example of how Dick's creativity and view went in completely different directions than most of his peers. 6 out of 12, Three Star read.

202o read
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book933 followers
February 13, 2021
Time Out of Joint is one of Philip K. Dick’s earliest novels (1959). For a science fiction story of that period, it is quite unusual and ahead of its time. The first half of the book is a sort of picture of America’s “Golden Age”: the blissful, apparently harmless and relatively uneventful life in a middle-class suburb, somewhere in California. Apart from the everyday tittle-tattle and ordinary cuckoldry between neighbours, there is nothing much going on. Except for that weirdo whose day job is to take part in his local newspaper’s quirky competition, “Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next?”. Not only does this raise a few eyebrows, because isn’t it odd for an adult man to stay at home all day like a housewife, instead of going to the office or factory, like everyone else? (Which is probably a metaphor for living as a writer.) But also, isn’t it suspicious that this guy wins the cash prize again and again in that newspaper contest?

Meanwhile, there is an ominous threat hanging over the heads of these common post-war middle-class men and women: the ever-present menace of a nuclear holocaust with the Communist Bloc. More disturbing still, as the story progresses, cracks and leaks start to appear on the polished and glossy veneer of that stereotypical American microcosm. The protagonist begins to experience mild anomalies, hallucinations, becomes obsessed with the metaphysical theories of George Berkeley and Immanuel Kant, notices that total strangers know him by name, and that he can’t seem to be able to leave his town despite his best efforts. As might be expected with Phil Dick, while keeping his writing style factual and unadorned, he twists events in a way that ultimately puts in doubt the very (deceptive) nature of reality: “The whole world, he thought, can be seen through. I am on the inside looking out. Peeking through a crack and seeing – emptiness.” (p. 162)

The story irresistibly throws his protagonist (and the reader) down an uncanny, paranoid rabbit hole. In the last section of the novel, however, PKD suddenly puts the brakes, pulls back and reverses to a rational, tedious sf explanation that is supposed to help us make sense of the preceding plot. Of course, said “explanation” feels far-fetched and like a sort of storytelling coitus interruptus. I suppose the author could have made his book more intense and mysterious by trimming it down to the length of a novella, and leaving a few things unresolved. In literature, as in everything else, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.

Be it as it may, Time Out of Joint is a seminal novel for the rest of PKD’s career and subsequent works of fiction involving conspiracies and simulated realities. Think, in TV series alone, of The Twilight Zone, The Invaders and, more recently, Dark Mirror.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,004 reviews10.6k followers
July 22, 2016
While the rest of the world toils at their jobs, Ragle Gumm stays at home, his sole source of income a daily newspaper contest called "Where will the little green man appear next?" When odd things start happening, Ragle thinks he may be having a nervous breakdown. Is he or is it something much more sinister?

Of course it is something more sinister. This is a Philip K. Dick novel.

A Dickhead at work has been after me for years to read this. After mindbending reads like The Great Forgetting, Dark Matter, and The Mirage, the road I was on was leading to Dick anyway so I gave this a shot.

First off, the things I didn't care for: The prose was really bland and the pace was a little slow for a 250 page book with huge type. As for the rest of it, I liked it quite a bit. I wish the Goodreads summary and the back cover blurb hadn't spoiled the big twist, though.

While I didn't think it was awesome, I did enjoy Time out of Joint. It's a literary ancestor to books like The Great Forgetting and Pines. Three out of five stars.
Profile Image for Susan Budd.
Author 6 books223 followers
April 3, 2020
This is my third of Dick’s six 1950s novels. The other two were The Cosmic Puppets and The World Jones Made.

On the surface, Time Out of Joint reminds me of The Cosmic Puppets. Both are linear narratives, both are set in the 50s, and most importantly, both pose questions about the nature of reality, playing with the idea that things are not what they appear to be. The novels differ primarily in how they resolve their mysteries. This is where Time Out of Joint misses its mark. Some of the most intriguing ideas from the early part of the book just drop out of sight at the end.

What I most enjoyed in the book was the philosophical speculation about the nature of reality and the meaning of words. When Ragle initiates a conversation with his brother-in-law about philosophy, he cites George Berkeley ~ the Idealist philosopher who proposed that nothing actually exists except as ideas in the mind of God. “How do we know that piano exists?” says Ragle and Vic replies “I’m sorry, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s just a bunch of words” (49).

Vic’s dismissal of Berkeley’s metaphysics as “just a bunch of words” inspires further speculation by Ragle.

Central problem in philosophy. Relation of word to object . . . what is a word? Arbitrary sign. But we live in words. Our reality, among words not things. No such thing as a thing anyhow; a gestalt in the mind. Thingness . . . sense of substance. An illusion. Word is more real than the object it represents. Word doesn’t represent reality. Word is reality. For us, anyhow. Maybe God gets to objects . Not us, though” (50).

But there are theological undertones as well.

In the beginning, he reflected, was the word” (40).

Later Ragle repeats the words of St. John.

’Under everything else,’ Ragle said. ‘The word. Maybe it’s the word of God. The logos. ‘In the beginning was the Word‘”(170).

The religious theme in this book is not pronounced like it is in The Cosmic Puppets. In fact, it doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the story at all, but it is clearly something that infuses Dick’s writing even when it is not essential to the story. Junie calls Ragle a “sacred spirit” (157). Towards the end of the book, after Ragle discovers the truth, after the veil of illusion is lifted, he says: “I’m the savior of this planet” (202). But Ragle is not really Messianic like Jones is in The World Jones Made.

The philosophical foundation of Time Out of Joint is the Platonic distinction between the true nature of reality and the illusion that we usually mistake for reality. Once Ragle sets out to discover the truth, it is Immanuel Kant that he cites. Kant’s philosophy distinguishes between the world of our perceptions and the world as it truly is. “The Ding an sich, as Kant said” (170).

All this escalation of philosophical intensity leads to big expectations, but when the truth comes out, it’s anticlimactic. It’s a good enough idea in and of itself, but it only barely ties in with the philosophical speculation that precedes it. The slips of paper, for example, make little sense other than to heighten the mystery. They suggest something metaphysical that just isn’t there. Also, a practical matter ~ wouldn’t it have been easier to just build a soft-drink stand than to brainwash people into seeing one?

But this novel has its strengths as well and the greatest strength is the character of Ragle Gumm. In the setting of 1950s suburbia, Ragle lives with his sister and brother-in-law, making his living by participating in a daily newspaper contest which he always wins due to his remarkable ability to perceive patterns and solve puzzles, an ability akin to the precognition featured in other Dick novels. As the mystery gradually unfolds, Ragle questions his sanity.

I must be crazy, he said to himself.

I’m the man who’s supposed to have fought in a war. I’m forty-six years old, supposedly an adult.

Yes, he thought. And I’m a man who lies around the house scrounging a living by filling out Where Will the Little Green Man Be Next? Puzzles in a newspaper contest. While other adults have jobs, wives, homes of their own.

I’m a retarded—psychotic. Hallucinations. Yes, he thought. Insane. Infantile and lunatic. What am I doing, sitting here? Daydreams, at best. Fantasies about rocket ships shooting by overhead, armies and conspiracies. Paranoia.

A paranoiac psychosis. Imagining that I’m the center of a vast effort by millions of men and women, involving billions of dollars and infinite work ... a universe revolving around me. Every molecule acting with me in mind. An outward radiation of importance ... to the stars. Ragle Gumm the object of the whole cosmic process, from the inception to final entropy. All matter and spirit, in order to wheel about me
” (105-106).

Considering Dick’s own struggle with mental illness, this is a theme in his work that interests me. But there’s more than insanity going on here. Ragle may suspect that he is hallucinating, that he is paranoid, but he also questions his life choices. He questions his status as an adult. While other men work, he drinks beer, does puzzles, and canoodles with the neighbor’s wife. He describes his occupation as “scrounging a living.” He calls himself “infantile.”

I wonder if this aspect of Ragle’s self-criticism is based on Dick himself. Either way, Ragle is a character that appealed to me right from the start. Perhaps it’s because of his self-doubt. Perhaps it’s because he feels like he isn’t living an adult life, even though he’s doing the best that he can. Perhaps it’s because he sees himself as infantile and insane even as he imagines himself to be the center of the universe. His delusions of grandeur coexist with his inferiority complex. But whatever the reason, I felt a connection with him.
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews805 followers
January 19, 2018
“Finished with my woman 'cause she couldn't help me with my mind
people think I'm insane because I am frowning all the time
All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy
Think I'll lose my mind if I don't find something to pacify

Can you help me occupy my brain?”
Cheers, Ozzy! That is Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, of course. Fits the bill for me!

I have a copy of Time Out of Joint languishing in my house for over ten years. I have no idea where it came from, I am pretty sure I never bought it. Is that weird? No, I guess not. I could tell you how I suddenly decided to read it after having ignored it for ten years, but that would be a spectacularly uninteresting anecdote so I will leave that out.

Normally I try to avoid reading a book’s synopsis before reading it (more fun that way) but on this occasion, after reading 40 or so pages of Time Out of Joint I really had no idea where dear old PKD is going with this one. If this wasn’t a PKD I would have dumped it by then but Dick is always worth persevering with.

For synopses fans, Time Out of Joint is ostensibly set in 1959 (the year of this book’s first publication), it is the story of Ragle Gumm, a man who makes a living from the cash prizes from a “Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next?” competition in a local gazette that he always win. His name is always shown in a special box on the gazette’s competition winners page as nobody else I even come close. Gumm is not a happy man, though (PKD’s protagonists never are), he always has a feeling that something is “off” about his world. Matters come to a head one day when a soft-drink stand disappears right in front of his eyes, to be replaced by a bit of paper with “SOFT-DRINK STAND” printed on it. OK… Soon Gumm starts to feel like he is, for some reason, the center of the universe, but not in a good way.

Many reviews of Time Out of Joint mention that the book’s plot is similar to The Truman Show, a 1998 film (Jim Carrey’s best, IMO) which this book predates of course. Certainly there is a strong element of that. Gumm live in an artificially constructed suburban town in an artificial 1959. A more recent book that is thematically similar to Time Out of Joint is Alastair Reynolds’ clever noir crime/space opera mashup novel Century Rain where the protagonist also believes he lives in 1959.*

Time Out of Joint is a clever, mind-bending and thought provoking book. Dick’s favorite theme of questioning the nature of our reality is wonderfully put to use here; as is his customary stilted dialogue. I like the book but, unfortunately, the execution leaves a little to be desired. PKD is not yet at the height of his powers at this time and the narrative and expositions can be a bit of a mess, there are also some superfluous scenes which I feel he should have left out, as they dragged on the narrative’s pacing unnecessarily.

I would still recommend it though, better than a poke in the eye any day!

4 3.5 stars.


* A coincidence? Doubtful. That Reynolds may have been inspired by PKD is not hard to imagine, what SF author never read anything by Dick? Time Out of Joint also predates Heinlein’s better known classic The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress which—surprisingly—shares some similarities with this book.

Interesting/Fun quotes
“He never went down to the crosswalk; he always crossed in the middle of the block, directly to the café, even if he had to wait at the curb minute after minute. A point of honor was involved, an element of manliness.”
“It’s clear to us that you believe what you say. But don’t you see what you’re doing? Because you believe everyone’s against you, you force everyone to be against you.”

“Central problem in philosophy. Relation of word to object ... what is a word? Arbitrary sign. But we live in words. Our reality, among words not things. No such thing as a thing anyhow; a gestalt in the mind. Thingness ... sense of substance. An illusion. Word is more real than the object it represents.”

I have no idea what that last quote means, LOL!
Profile Image for Cosimo.
429 reviews
March 31, 2019
Non provarci, signor Dick

“Possiamo mettere insieme tutto quello che sappiamo, si rese conto, ma non ci dirà nulla, tranne che qualcosa non va. E questo lo sapevamo fin dal principio. Gli indizi che stiamo raccogliendo non ci danno una soluzione; ci mostrano soltanto la portata di questa incongruenza”.

Prigionieri del passato, minacciati costantemente dal futuro: così sono condizionati a vivere i personaggi di questo profetico testo di Philip K. Dick, maestro del genere fantascientifico. Un eterno presente che è in realtà una retrotopia, come definita da Zygmunt Bauman, quella del ritorno al grembo materno, in quell'America culla della libertà, sulla quale Dick proiettava la paura del comunismo, la manipolazione capitalistica e il provincialismo della vita matrimoniale e borghese. Mai come in questi giorni, i temi di Time out of joint risultano strumenti versatili per descrivere la realtà sociale e culturale, l'indebolimento e la crisi del senso storico, il contrapporsi fratello contro fratello in un perpetuo meccanismo di seduzione e repulsione, dove ad averla vinta è sempre e solo la violenza, l'inconsistenza esistenziale, il ritorno nostalgico, il perpetrarsi dell'ingiustizia etica e soggettiva, la corsa al profitto. Ragle Gumm si muove per gradi verso conoscenza e consapevolezza, con il suo stile di interrogarsi e agire tra paranoico e oggettivo, un Hamlet che cerca continuamente un posto che non ricorda, un interruttore che non esiste, tra falsità temporali e contraddizioni fusionali. Dick ci mostra come egli torni in sé, da una posizione che sporge assolutamente fuori dal reale: "Perché io sono il centro dell'universo. Si comportano come se lo fossi. Si sono presi il disturbo di costruire intorno a me un mondo fittizio, per tenermi tranquillo”. Così la strategia di guerra psichica utilizzata nello scontro civile solimondisti-lunatici comporta l'invenzione di un passato che è simulacro, in quanto ricostruito sulle fondamenta di un futuro solo ipotetico; la realtà artificiale produce quindi uno pseudomondo difficile da abitare autenticamente, dove si mescolano dati, scenari, soggettività e bisogni. Lo studioso nella prefazione definisce questo racconto un ”testo mutante” e in esso si coglie che l'alter ego dell'autore è più un fool che un eroe tragico, poiché ha la chiave per capire l'inganno, ma è troppo alienato da potersene liberare senza regredire completamente. Di fatto, l'uomo dickiano e robinsoniano continua a desiderare di tornare indietro e la sua avventura metafisica non lascia spazio per esperire ciò che sta oltre il disegno, la speranza di una quiete che ondeggia, la trasformazione inedita di un nemico di pietra in un'ombra vuota. Infine, la filosofia visionaria di Dick può competere per illusione con tutte le impareggiabili “cose in cielo e in terra” shakespeariane, in una teoria dei mondi possibili che fluttua oscillando alle origini del fantastico. L'etimologia greca della parola paranoia rinvia all'idea dei confini della mente, alle sue aperture e frontiere e a volte attraversandoli, a volte uscendone, accade di incontrare le orme della verità nella creazione.

“Non riesco a capire. Tutto quello che so quello che vedo e quello che mi accade. Penso che stiamo vivendo in un mondo diverso da quello che vediamo, e penso di aver saputo esattamente, per breve tempo, qual è quell'altro mondo. Ma poi l'ho perduto. Da quella notte. Il futuro, forse”.
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,376 reviews12k followers
March 9, 2023

Time Out of Joint - Philip K. Dick's novel about what happens when the world fails to adhere to a fixed, predictable set of natural laws, when how you perceive profoundly influences and changes what you perceive. For, as philosopher George Berkeley stated in 1710, “to be is to be perceived”.

So, what am I to make of this PKD novel I listened to on audible, the book I see reviewed many times over here on Goodreads? I ask since, when I picked up the actual book, the entire story was different beginning in Chapter Three. Instead of Ragle Gumm shaving himself in the bathroom mirror, Ragle must deal with six Little Green Men who take him to Mars where he meets Bishop Berkeley himself. When Ragle asks Berkeley if he's dreaming or if this is true reality, George answers, “The only things we perceive are our perceptions.” And when Ragle presses him for clarification, the good Bishop replies, “A ray of imagination or of wisdom may enlighten the universe, and glow into remotest centuries.”

The book gets weirder and weirder, with references to House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I'd be happy to include more detail but I strongly suspect the book you yourself will read with not be the book I see in front of me, the one I read, a book entitled Time Out of Joint by Philip K. Dick. However, I must admit I was given a warning right on the front cover, a warning telling me this Dick is “A Novel of Menace”. Whoever wrote that wasn't joking.

Profile Image for Theresa.
176 reviews41 followers
January 5, 2015
Why didn't I start reading Philip K. Dick ages ago?!?!

Profile Image for Oscar.
1,971 reviews492 followers
September 30, 2016
No puedo empezar sin hacer mención a la criminal sinopsis de la contraportada de esta novela, que creo que ha seguido sucediendo incluso en ediciones de otras editoriales (véase Minotauro). Yo cometí el error de leerla y me fastidió toda la lectura, porque no hacía otra cosa que esperar, porque ya sabía que tenía que suceder, lo destripado en dicha sinopsis. Una cosa es picar la curiosidad del lector contando algo que suceda en los primeros capítulos, porque algo hay que contar, eso es indiscutible. Pero que desvelen hechos que tienen lugar en el último cuarto de novela, eso es imperdonable, un crimen. Y el hecho es más grave si cabe cuando estamos hablando del germen de la novela, del motor principal que la mueve. Ya he dejado la costumbre de leer sinopsis, prólogos y según qué reseñas antes de empezar una novela, pero aun así sigo cayendo de vez en cuando.

‘Tiempo desarticulado’ (Time Out of Joint, 1959), del norteamericano Philip K. Dick, tiene como protagonista a Ragle Gumm, que lleva una idílica vida junto a la familia de su hermana. Su principal actividad consiste en participar en el concurso del periódico, que siempre gana. Paulatinamente, vamos asistiendo a inquietantes revelaciones que nos harán dudar de la realidad de los personajes. Y ya está, no se puede contar nada más sin entrar en el consabido spoiler. La novela transcurre sin prisas, pausadamente, pero engancha desde el primer momento.

Tras finalizar la lectura de ‘Tiempo desarticulado’, queda patente la influencia posterior que tuvo en diferentes productos de ocio, ya sean libros, películas o series de televisión. No cabe duda de que Dick fue todo un visionario.
Profile Image for Jayakrishnan.
496 reviews184 followers
August 14, 2023
I think the makers of The Truman Show may have copied the idea of a person's life as a staged TV series from this book. Dick had so many ingenious ideas during his career as a writer. The idea for this book might be the best one that Dick ever had. But it is not his best book. It is not as funny as A Scanner Darkly or Valis - both of which came later. And the social commentary is not as incisive or trenchant, like in his later work. But there are instances in the book which give us an idea of what is to come. This is one of the earliest of Dick's novels that I have read.

The book is about Ragle Gumm, an unemployed middle aged man who lives with his sister, her husband and their small kid. Ragle is a local celebrity in his small American town on account of the fact that he keeps winning a newspaper contest that requires extraordinary skills in mathematics. When he is not working hard at the contest, he is swilling beer and lusting for his neighbors wife. But Ragle senses that something is not right with his existence. Small clues lead him to question the very nature of his reality and what he believes to be true. Ragle could be at the centre of a sinister plot by the government to hide the truth about space travel and its benefits from the citizens.

Through Ragle Gumm, Dick is trying to say that even the most talented among us can be fooled into leading a mundane existence by the government or some higher authority. The government lays down the rules and it tries to keep us engrossed and captivated by playing on our basest instincts like the male sexual drive (in the novel, Ragle Gumm wants to marry and settle down with the beautiful but dumb Junie, his neighbors wife).

Dick uses small snippets of conversation to build character. And also to foreground the important themes of the novel.

For example look at this exchange between two supermarket employees:

"Aren't you a Democrat?" he asked. "From the South?"

"Not any more. Not since I moved up here. This is a Republican state, so I'm a Republican."

He offers us scenes from small town American life to underscore the absurdity of our mundane existence. But ultimately, Time Out of Joint is a novel that emphasizes the marvel of space travel (or migration and travel) as one of man's most primitive instinct.

According to Dick:

"It had nothing to do with minerals, resources, scientific measurement. Nor even exploration and profit. Those were excuses. The actual reason lay out-side their conscious minds. If he were required to, he could not formulate the need, even as he experienced it fully. No once could. An instinct, the most primitive drive, as well as the most noble and complex. It was both at once."

An entertaining and intriguing novel from the great PKD.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
931 reviews280 followers
July 7, 2020
Please to meet you Mr Dick

In una qualunque cittadina, di una qualunque provincia americana, Ragle Gumm vive con la sorella Margot, il cognato Victor ed il nipotino Sammy.
All’apparenza una vita tranquilla:
il lavoro, le visite del vicinato, le faccende domestiche...
Ma questa è un'epoca su cui aleggia lo spauracchio fobico della bomba H e la certezza di un’imminente invasione russa.
A 46 anni Ragle non ha quello che comunemente può essere definito un vero lavoro.
La sua attività, infatti, consiste nel risolvere i quiz pubblicati da un quotidiano.
Iniziato come semplice gioco è ormai diventata un'occupazione a tempo pieno che frutta denaro ed anche fama essendo oramai un affermato vincitore seriale.
Qualcosa, tuttavia, non va; non è solo l'insoddisfazione professionale.
Ragle si sente turbato, disturbato e a ciò contribuiscono piccoli episodi insoliti che mettono in dubbio che tutto si svolga secondo natura.

"Sì, c'è qualcosa di storto — disse Ragle.
— Voglio dire, non in te o in me o in qualcun altro. Dico in generale.
— «Il tempo» — disse Ragle — «è fuori luogo»."

Una storia appallottolata come il filo di una matassa e che sbrigliandosi va a costruire un'originale trama fantastica.
“Tempo fuori luogo” è un'ucronia che sicuramente ha dato più di uno spunto alla narrativa di genere che ne è seguita benché non colpisca certo con una brillante cifra stilistica.

Leggi e non puoi fare a meno di pensare a “The Truman show” piuttosto che a “Ritorno al futuro”.
E se oggi alcune paranoiche proiezioni in quel futuro-che per noi è passato- immaginato quasi sessant'anni fa, fanno sorridere, e al tempo stesso interessante fermarsi a pensare che esperienza di lettura possa essere stata per l'ignaro lettore degli anni '60.
Ma qui mi fermo.
Non entro nel merito ulteriormente perchè il libro merita di essere letto.

Ho rotto il ghiaccio: please to meet you Mr Dick!!
Profile Image for FotisK.
367 reviews166 followers
October 4, 2018
Ο Φ. Ντικ παραμένει μια πρωτότυπη "φωνή", όντας απόλυτα μοντέρνος και προφητικός. Από τη 2η δεκαετία της ζωής μου, ω�� και σήμερα, συνεχίζω να τον διαβάζω με την ίδια πάντα απόλαυση. Έχοντας μάλιστα αποκτήσει σταδιακά όλη τη βιβλιογραφία του στα ελληνικά, ο "Ασύνδετος χρόνος" είναι από τα λίγα βιβλία του που δεν είχα εισέτι διαβάσει.
Εντούτοις, δεν θα το συμπεριλάβω στις κορυφαίες του στιγμές, αν και η επίδρασή του στο υπέροχο "Truman Show" είναι παραπάνω από εμφανής. Ο λόγος είναι ότι μου φάνηκε πως κάτι "ασύνδετο" υπάρχει στον τρόπο γραφής, με συνέπεια να επικρατεί αφενός μια αφηγηματική χαλαρότητα και αφετέρου μια αίσθηση αμηχανίας.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
677 reviews304 followers
November 12, 2020
Segunda novela corta que leo de Philip K Dick. Desgraciadamente no me ha gustado tanto como me esperaba. La primera mitad me mantenía entretenida porque no te daban ni siquiera pistas de lo que estaba sucediendo. Cuando descubrí la guinda del pastel, la verdad que me dejó bastante indiferente. Igual me esperaba algún quebradero de cabeza como lo fue “The Cosmic muppets"; pero como acabo de decir no fue así. Me ha parecido en general una novela interesante y no me disgusta como escribe el autor. No creo que deje de leer sus obras. Además aún tengo que leer las más famosas. Espero que sean tan buenas como dicen.
Profile Image for Karl.
3,258 reviews275 followers
July 24, 2019
"Time Out of Joint" was first published by Lippincott in hardcover - 59-7775, in 1959, running 221pp, and sold for $3.95, when they were going to start a science-fiction line.

Dick’s fee was $750.

Mr. Dick says of the book in an interview with Charles Platt - " I wrote TIME OUT OF JOINT in the 1950s, before I had even heard of LSD. In that book a guy walks up to a lemonade stand in the park, and it turns into a slip of paper marked Soft Drink Stand, and he puts the slip of paper in his pocket. Far-fucking-out, spacey, that's an 'acid experience'. If I didn't know better I'd say that this author had turned on many times, and his universe was coming unglued -- he's obviously living in a fake universe.

What I was trying to do in that book was account for the diversity of worlds that people live in. I had not read Heraclitus then, I didn’t know his concept of idios kosmos, the private world, versus koinos kosmos, which we all share. I didn’t know that the pre-Socratics had begun to discern these things. There’s a scene in the book where the protagonist goes into the bathroom, reaches in the dark for a pull-cord, and suddenly realizes there is no cord, there’s a switch on the wall, and he can’t remember when he ever had a bathroom when there was a cord hanging down. Now, that actually happened to me, and it was what caused me to write the book. It reminded me of the idea that Van Vogt had dealt with, of artificial memory, as occurs in THE WORLD OF NULL-A where a person has false memories implanted. A lot of what I wrote, which looks like the result of taking acid, is really the result of taking Van Vogt seriously! I believed Van Vogt, I mean, he wrote it, you know, he was an authority figure. He said, people can be other than whom they remember themselves to be, and I found this fascinating. You have a massive suspension of belief on my part."

Note: This is not a library copy.
Profile Image for Carmine.
593 reviews58 followers
February 7, 2019
Omino Verde cercasi

"Cos'è questo posto che non ricordo?"

L'opera di Dick - Weir con il suo "Truman Show" ringrazia sentitamente - sonda con innegabile efficacia l'effimera percezione sensoriale della realtà circostante, da tutti considerata inalienabile e incorruttibile.
L'autore dipinge, con disarmante lucidità, la società americana anni '50, succube dei timori della guerra fredda nonché vittima inconsapevole di un mondo depositario del "pensiero prestabilito" - falsi ricordi, mezze verità, microversi fallaci -, che gettano non pochi dubbi circa il libero arbitrio e l'effettiva libertà dell'individuo inserito in un contesto sociale.
Come quasi ogni romanzo dell'autore, l'originalità del tema supera di gran lunga la prosa, a tratti grezza e poco raffinata.
Profile Image for Tanabrus.
1,857 reviews163 followers
February 6, 2019
Spesso i romanzi di Dick sono potenti e visionari, talmente avanti da risultare freschi e all'avanguardia ancora oggi.
E questo Tempo fuor di sesto, per quanto ancora un po' "acerbo" nello sviluppo della trama, rientra in questa categoria.

Un'idilliaca cittadina americana degli anni '50, dove vive la sua strana vita Ragle Gumm. Non sposato, sta in casa della sorella, di suo marito e del loro figlio. Al contrario del cognato Vic, commesso del supermercato, lui non lavora: si guadagna da vivere rispondendo al popolare quiz "trova l'omino verde" sul giornale, quiz del quale è il campione indiscusso da quando è cominciato.
Ne è il campione a tal punto da ricevere un sussidio costante dal giornale, da essere diventato una celebrità nota ovunque, e da avere ottenuto dei "bonus" che gli consentono di mantenere il primato anche le volte in cui sbaglia la soluzione.
Ha una coppia di vicini entranti e assillanti, spesso presenti in casa sua, e una mezza storia con la bella ma infantile vicina, chiaramente osteggiata dalla sorella visto il carattere della donna e il suo essere sposata.

Ma c'è qualcosa di strano. Ogni tanto Ragle coglie segnali stonati, come se la realtà non fosse reale, come se ci fosse qualcosa dietro tutto ciò che vede.
Quando anche suo cognato comincia a sperimentare le stesse cose, i due si dedicano a capire cosa stia succedendo. E scoprono una realtà oltre ogni loro più fervida immaginazione, oltre la paura per la Guerra Fredda e la recessione economica, oltre le paranoie sui complotti governativi e le voci sui rapimenti a opera degli alieni.

Abbiamo già il classico tema della realtà che non è reale, della realtà oltre la realtà che sperimentiamo.
Ma abbiamo anche un intrigante sguardo sul futuro, tra strani abbigliamenti e slang, vita post-bellica e guerre civili inimmaginabili.
Abbiamo il prototipo del Truman Show, senza lo spirito voyeuristico che caratterizzerà il nuovo millennio ma con le paranoie post-belliche, le crisi dei valori e un sentimento quasi nostalgico per un'epoca, quella di Dick, che lo scrittore sembra quasi avvertire come già sfuggita di mano, già passata, superata, perduta.
Abbiamo la guerra civile, e l'istinto dell'uomo per spingersi oltre, esplorare, trovare nuove frontiere.

Una gran bella lettura!
Profile Image for Mike.
306 reviews149 followers
April 14, 2020

"In a civil war", Ragle said, "every side is wrong. It's hopeless to try to untangle it. Everyone is a victim."

Written in 1958 when Phil was just 30, and published in '59, this is the earliest of his novels that I've read. He may not have always shown it over the course of his 45-novel career, at least in part because he wrote some of those novels in two-week amphetamine binges, but Time Out of Joint reminds me that not only did he have brilliant ideas, but that by this early point in his career he was also a real craftsman who knew what he was doing with a story. There's an elegant simplicity to this novel, yet it somehow managed to keep surprising me.

Phil's novels often take place in alternate realities or future societies, so I found something pleasingly disconcerting about the suburban, late-50s milieu with which this one begins. I enjoyed the character of Vic, who works in the produce section of a supermarket and walks to a diner across the street for coffee on his breaks. I enjoyed Vic and his wife Margo's go-getting neighbor, Bill Black, who's always stopping by the house, conversant in all the cultural topics of the day including the theories of Freud, almost too conversant really...and of course there's a marital infidelity or two, or quasi-infidelity, the kind that Phil would often use in his future novels, whether they took place in a suburb on earth or a Martian mining colony- put people in close quarters for too long and things are going to get weird. And then there's Margo's brother Ragle Gumm, definitely one of the most ridiculous character names Phil ever came up with, who lives a quiet, circumscribed life dedicated to a strange, isolating little hobby- not unlike writing science-fiction stories for peanuts, maybe. Things are going well, more or less, until the day Vic instinctively reaches for a light cord in the bathroom that isn't there, and has never been there.

It's hard to say much more about Time Out of Joint without giving away its secrets, but in my view it's about the power of fantasy, and how the tragedy of one's present strengthens the appeal of whatever fantasies one's society allows. It's about how fantasy becomes all-encompassing, and isn't always a conscious choice. But at the risk of moralizing, I think it's also about fighting back against fantasy, about remaining conscious in one's own time and place, no matter how unpleasant. That there's something ennobling about the truth. Phil had a lot of sympathy for the impulse to escape, but I think he also understood that fantasy isn't as individual a thing as it might seem. It's social and political as well, it has causes and consequences beyond ourselves, and the people who seek power in this world depend on the rest of us becoming so appalled by the present that we turn inward, with the help of our gadgets. And as I think David Foster Wallace once said, the technology is just going to keep getting better and better.
Profile Image for César Bustíos.
278 reviews101 followers
September 6, 2017
¡Qué manera de jugar con mi mente, señor Dick!

La primera parte es un poco lenta pero a la vez rarísima (típico de PKD, al parecer) desde el principio. Se pone mucho mejor en los últimos capítulos. Una novela de los inicios de Dick allá por el '59.

Ragle Gumm se gana la vida participando en un concurso del periódico llamado "¿Dónde estará la próxima vez el hombrecito verde?" , siempre gana. Una vida normal, corriente. Luego de experimentar algunos eventos crecen sus sospechas sobre la veracidad de la realidad que lo rodea.


Profile Image for Stian.
86 reviews130 followers
March 25, 2015
What a strange book.

I wonder if this is where the creators of 'The Truman Show' got their inspiration. A really kooky story about an ordinary guy who thinks he's living in the 1950s and just doing ordinary stuff in an ordinary little town. But is he? Well, it's Philip K. Dick. Of course he isn't. It's all some really weird crap and nothing really makes any god damn sense -- at least not until the ending, but even that is just crazy stuff.

Profile Image for Ajeje Brazov.
724 reviews
October 15, 2017
Assolutamente fenomenale, Dick riesce a raccontare una storia con varie sfaccettature, realtà e fantascienza si mischiano in modo incredibile e alla fine ne esci disorientato non riuscendo più a capire dove lo scrittore voglia andare a parare.
L'inizio parte tranquillamente, come in un racconto di vita quotidiana, tra emozioni e stati d'animo, poi subentra la tensione, la suspense che tiene il lettore col cuore a 1000, come nei migliori thriller ed infine... meglio leggerlo!!!
Un capolavoro.
Profile Image for Tara.
433 reviews19 followers
February 29, 2020
4.5 stars. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not after you.
Profile Image for Malice.
291 reviews37 followers
July 1, 2023
Me gustaron todas las implicaciones que tiene este libro, sobre la percepción de la realidad, el futuro y la guerra. El único pero que tiene, para mí, es que el final es demasiado apresurado.
Profile Image for Daniel Villines.
396 reviews54 followers
July 14, 2021
The right frame of mind for reading Time Out of Joint would be to consider it a newly found episode of The Twilight Zone. Imagine Rod Sterling in his skinny suit, skinny tie, and deadpan voice:

Imagine if you will a man, an ordinary man who enjoys solving the daily newspaper puzzle. But while this man’s attention is focused on this one task, the puzzle of his life remains unsolved. This man presently resides in the The Twilight Zone…

From there the story proceeds to be told with its late 1950s vibe, complete with echoes of Ozzie and Harriet. The town is comprised with quaint single-family homes, downtown sidewalk shopping, and urban sprawl on its outskirts. The characters are suburban cutouts of the era, consisting of friendly neighbors that play cards, go bowling together, and cook dinner for each other often. With the inclusion of few nagging mysteries that gradually build towards the end, this is the way the story proceeds for 200 of its 230 pages.

Then there is the ending, which is a trainwreck. The engine hits the wall in the final chapter and Dick attempts to explain everything. The mysteries are briefly attended to, new information is thrown in bring the story together, and then the sun sets without further explanation. While this may suffice for a 30-minute sf-fi TV show, it left me a bit dazed and wanting for more. It also left me searching for and finding the inconsistencies and impossibilities created between the story and its ending.

While Time Out of Joint is an entertaining piece of Americana, it’s not a very good si-fi mystery.
Profile Image for TheReadingRunner.
90 reviews21 followers
July 22, 2020
“Relation of word to object . . . what is a word? Arbitrary sign. But we live in words. Our reality, among words not things. No such thing as thing anyhow; a gestalt in the mind.”.
Time out of Joint is a sci-fi novel written in 1959 by Philip K. Dick and like many of his other books, it also explores themes of psychological mind trips and constant hopping back and forth through hoops of reality.
The bulk of the plot is a spoiler, so to say as little as possible about this book: A man called Ragle Gumm lives an ordinary life next door to some great neighbors and in a seemingly ordinary town in the same house with his sister and his brother in law. He makes a living, oddly, by winning big prizes from newspaper competitions. Ragle starts searching for answers when a soda-pop turns into a slip of paper with Soda-pop written on it before his eyes, and he slowly notices other objects turning to slips of paper. He sets out on a journey for the truth along with his brother in-law and the curtains slowly unravel as the pieces of the puzzle are put together.
The title of the book is a reference to Shakespeare’s Hamlet : "The time is out of joint; O cursed spite!/That ever I was born to set it right!" [I.V.211-2]).
This book was really enjoyable to read and I was very satisfied with the ending. Would recommend!
Profile Image for Maria Dobos.
108 reviews44 followers
June 30, 2017
1959. Într-un mic oraș din America, Ragle Gumm își câștigă existența găsind soluțiile unui concurs publicat zi de zi în ziarul Gazette. Locuind cu familia surorii lui, viața lui Ragle urmează același tipar cotidian, timpul lui împărțindu-se între întâlnirile cu familia Black și concursul care i-a adus notorietatea. Încet, încet, senzația unor lucruri care nu au existat vreodată începe să-i macine conștiința, destrămându-i realitatea și făcându-l să-și pună la îndoială propriile percepții, gânduri și amintiri. Așadar, este lumea lui reală sau doar o amăgire?

Mă tot întreb dacă Orson Scott Card și-a găsit vreun strop de inspirație pentru Jocul lui Ender în cartea asta... Cu toate că nu a fost chiar ceea ce mă așteptam, stilul lui Philip K. Dick a fost chiar plăcut, nici pe departe atât de confuz ca în Ubik sau în Invazia divină, dar păstrându-și în același timp doza de irealitate.
Profile Image for Stuart.
722 reviews272 followers
September 3, 2014
This is one of PKD's earlier and lesser works. The protagonist discovers his mundane existence is a actually an elaborate hoax that covers up a much darker reality. Frankly, the author has explored this idea with much better results in later books, so that the book almost reads like a cheap knock-off of PKD himself, which was probably unavoidable since he wrote so many books just to pay the bills. I'd stick to his more famous works.
Profile Image for Edmond Dantes.
373 reviews28 followers
August 23, 2017
E' vero, PKD scrive male, da novelliere da stazione ferroviaria, direbbe qualcuno, ma anche i romanzi di Kipling erano venduti come romanzi da 1 Rupia nelle remote stazioni ferroviarie del Raj.
Altri la avrebbero scritta stilisticamente meglio, ma solo PKD poteva creare una situazione cosi pervasiva e disturbante , da riflettersi anche sul povero lettore, che, invano, cerca una cordicella nel Bagno.....
Profile Image for Tristram Shandy.
728 reviews203 followers
June 14, 2022
Can This Be True, Man?

It definitely looks like a Truman’s world – as in Peter Weir’s 1998 film – when we witness Ragle Gumm, a forty-seven year-old WWII veteran, lead a placid life in a small American town in the late 1950s. Living in with his sister Margo, her husband Vic and their son Sammy, he earns his way by continually taking part in a daily newspaper contest in which he has to predict where a little green man is going to appear next – the novel is never really quite specific about it – and since he has developed a painstaking but successful system, his daily predictions have proved true for more than three years, earning him both a regular and handsome income as well as a certain amount of fame. Ragle’s life could be called well-ordered and hardly ever in danger of falling out of a well-known rut – even his overtures towards his neighbour’s wife Junie Black aren’t altogether that scandalous –, were it not for recurring moments of disorientation and ruptures of reality he has been experiencing, when suddenly the world around him seems to recede and objects he had had in front of him disappear only to leave behind mysterious slips of paper with their names printed on them. There are also other inexplicable, yet unsettling details: How come, for example, that an old magazine he found in the rubble of some derelict buildings has a long article about a sultry blonde actress called Marilyn Monroe and her celebrated movies when neither he nor any of his family have ever even heard her name? Ragle begins to suspect that things around him may not really be the way he is supposed to make them out to be, and when his first attempt at leaving his hometown – a thing that had never before occurred to him – is foiled not so much by circumstances but by the actions of apparently unrelated people around him, he feels sure that something is hidden from him and that he simply must leave his old life behind in order to pry behind the façade of what he has hitherto taken for reality.

There are quite some similarities between Ragle Gumm and Philip K. Dick himself when you come to think about it: For a start, both men worked using the capacities of their mind and imagination without leaving their home, which, in terms of the 50s was hardly the thing for a male person to do and therefore somewhat of a shady and questionable business. Dick might well have experienced the same attitude of ill-hidden derogatory resentment he has Vic Nielson voice towards his couch potato of a brother-in-law when he himself leaves his house every single working day in the week in order to put his shoulder to the wheel of productivity. The only difference is that while Ragle is making quite a mint with his newspaper contest, however ridiculous that may sound, Dick, churning out fiction like a madman, barely earned money enough to meet his daily needs and depended on his exploitative editor Don Wollheim, who had no qualms about telling Dick to alter his stories according to what he perceived as the expectations of the reading public. In fact, the novel Time Out of Joint was Dick’s way to rebel against what he regarded as the hackneyed Wollheim recipe in that it was something novel, a new starting point for Dick’s fiction to take. What Dick does here is describe an out-and-out suburban petty bourgeois lifestyle and then suggest the shallowness and brittleness of it all in an attempt to express his own doubts about and dissatisfaction with the American way of life and to make his readers ask themselves similar questions. Let’s just take a look at one childhood memory of Ragle’s, shall we? Little Ragle is offered a complimentary sample of cheese in a supermarket and then has the following conversation:

”’Do you enjoy this?’ the woman asked. ‘Roaming around here in the different stores while your parents are shopping?’

‘Sure,’ he said, munching on the cheese.

The woman said, ‘Is it because you feel that everything you might need is available here? A big store, a supermarket, is a complete world in itself.’

‘I guess so,’ he admitted.

‘So there’s nothing to fear,’ the woman said. ‘No need to feel anxiety. You can relax. Find peace, here.’”

It is in order to make use of Ragle’s important gift that they create a fake 50s world around him, as a reminiscence of the world in which he led the happy and carefree life of a child – but the interesting thing is that a large part of the positive connotations dating from his childhood have to do with the feeling of plenty, of consumerism and of American middle-class amenities. The only question is whether you can really build a fulfilling identity and life on these – a question Dick seems inclined to answer in the negative in that the adult Ragle’s reality is more and more disintegrating.

This doubtful and consumer-critical attitude make Dick’s science fiction different from the one by his colleague John Campbell – a thought that is also expressed by Lou Stathis in his afterword –, whose science fiction approach was about man remaining in control of the world and using science and technology in order to overcome every doubt he may experience. Campbell, by the way, would roundly reject every single story sent in by Dick for the science fiction magazine Astounding Science Fiction, probably because Dick’s fiction was way too astounding. Ragle lives in a well-ordered little universe, in the middle of a perfectly-concocted and expertly-maintained lie when for no apparent reason, this web of deception falls to pieces because it is simply based on the creature comforts and leaves unanswered Ragle’s desire for the higher truths, the Ding an sich. This Ding an sich is probably very tricky to get at, and may not be more than meagre words written on slips of paper, the best thing on offer in a narrow-minded, materialistic world in which even romantic relationships are all too often slowly euthanized in the humdrum of everyday routine put up with no higher object but to meet the requirements of middle-class life. Just take this powerful little scene:

”Junie Black. My own adventure into the shady deals of wife-stealing romance. In the cramped environment of little houses, with the car parked under the kitchen window, clothes hanging in the yard, countless skimpy errands keeping her involved until nothing else is left, only a preoccupation with things to get done, things to have ready.” (p.151)

How many human relationships are drained of meaning that way? How many promising lives are drowned in shallow waters that way?

Interestingly, there is another similarity between the protagonist and the author, namely Ragle’s fear of gliding into a world of paranoia the more he weans himself from accepting appearance as essence. Can I be the only one to be right when everyone else around me does not seem to notice the little things that make my hair stand on end? Is it really plausible that I may be the object of a deception that takes so much effort from so many people to uphold? Questions like these start haunting Ragle, and they might not have been alien to a man like Dick, whose writings so often faced his readers with fake worlds, or the instability and multi-layeredness of reality. For, if everyone else is clinging to fake truths and certainties, how can the one to deny them all be sure that he has singled out the one right thing that makes a difference and gives meaning? Surely, his conviction is to him of the same sterling quality that everyone else has in clinging to what they cling to?

All in all, Time Out of Joint is a fascinating novel that foreshadows the potential of Dick’s later works even though he fails to keep up the same level of ambiguity and philosophical depth until the end.
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