Dr. Bloodmoney

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Possibly the most well-known Dick novel, Dr. Bloodmoney is set in a post-nuclear (or nukular) world, where the nukular holocaust was caused by a caste of science and army nuts in circumstances not clearly elucidated by the book, but under the spiritual and scientific guidance of a Dr. Bluthgeld.

As ever, Dick focuses on the people and their anguish rather than on the soundness of the science or the plausiblity of the events. That has been the case in all Dick’s work, and indeed he does get it pretty much always wrong, so that’s not the point. This makes the afterword by the author that my edition is graced with rather bizarre. In neither the first nor the most advanced case of an author not precisely getting the point of the major interest of his production, Dick repeatedly apologises for and justifies his failed predictions, as if that was either here or there.

Dr. Bloodmoney is one of the landmark Dick novels. Though I have no idea of the accademic semiography of Dick’s work beyond banal generalities, Bloodmoney seems to me to synthetise Dick’s signature literary traits : a macabre and morbid psychoscape, with each character’s utter personal lonelyness merely colliding with others’, eventually reaching critical psychotic mass in a climax of autistic cataclysm. As short epilogue provides for a happy ending that Dick uses in his afterword to explain that Bloodmoney is an optimistic novel.

Other less engaging Dickian traits are featured here, such as rather pedestrian writing, teeth-grinding 1950’s teenage suburban american inter-gender relationships and sexuality, a totally improbable and undetermined mix of magic and science, and symplistic psychoanalytical plots.

These are what must be endured in Dick’s works to access his peculiar brand of madness, despair and enchantedness. In some of his works, the endurance is not worth the trouble. It is here.

Vincent Henderson