Dr. Bloodmoney
Philip K. Dick, 1965

After a nuclear war, the many survivors — an assortment of mutants and eccentrics — live in a world that has been reduced, not to the Stone Age, but to a rural existence.

I read the first half of this at my usual plodding pace and then skimmed the rest at double speed. Dick's world of limbless megalomaniacs tormenting hypochondriac astronauts and homunculid boys living inside their sisters' appendices was unpleasant enough that I wanted to get out of it quickly.

I find that Dick's work often falls into an uncanny personality valley for me — the people are just off-kilter enough to make me think "hrm, that's not right" but not enough to feel like the natural inhabitants of a world unlike our own. Or maybe they do, and it's that world that gives me the creeps. I suppose Dick would say that shows I'm part of the problem. In Dr. Bloodmoney, he creates a world in which the post-apocalypse has created a world of Jeffersonian communities, one in which Dick's freaks stand under a "more tolerant sky." But that places the book in the grand tradition of "ultimately, nuclear war is good" fiction along with Alas, Babylon and Tomorrow!, and that's even creepier than a Thalidomide victim fighting a vermiform embryo.

This book has a talking dog in it.

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