Hope and Mirrors (Clans of the Alphane Moon Review Part Two)

May 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Unknown“[…] we’ve lost her. Nobody can claim this woman for long. It’s just not in her nature, in her biology.”

“She, as well as he, as well as everyone […] struggled for balance, for insight; it was a natural tendency for living creatures.  Hope always existed […]”

That line hit me like a train.  I loved it.  I loved the twist in Mary’s character. I love the terrible beginning and the hopeful ending in the midst of far worse circumstances.  I just got a tattoo last month “I am half agony, half hope.”  Hope in the midst of agony and agony that leads to hope is my mantra.  I loved this moment of humanity so brilliantly expressed.  The fact that I have a Jane Austen tattoo and binge read Philip K. Dick may not seem like two cohesive characteristics to other readers, but to me few other writers have grasped humanity so cleverly.

I have loved all of PKD’s work, but Clans of the Alphane Moon (four Philip K. Dick books into my discovery) just might be my favorite so far.

I said so to a fellow Dick fan and he said, “Funny, that’s one of his most disliked books.”

“Really? Why?”

“I don’t know.  From what I’ve read a lot of people criticize the plot.”

I looked into this, of course.

“Just as Phil breaks the rules of reality, he also breaks any and all literary rules at the same time. The result is a Dick vision presented in an inconsistent story that is not fully developed.” – Jason Koornick, http://www.philipkdickfans.com/literary-criticism/reviews/review-by-jason-koornick-clans-of-the-alphane-moon-1964/

I’m not a plot person. I don’t care about plots.  I like well written people and unusual circumstances.  I like to learn something new about the world around me and myself.  I could care less whether or not the story moved the way it *should* have.  Maybe this is why I like Dick.  He doesn’t seem to give a rats ass about the rules of writing.  He just tells his stories.

Koornick proves this bookish faw of mine when he writes, “Let us not forget that the most memorable moments of many of PKD’s best (and worst) novels are the “situations” rather than the characters or plot development. It is on this level that Clans of the Alphane Moon succeeds.”

If you’ve read my own published novella (nothing nearly as good or even in the same realm as any PKD story), you’ll see that plots are not my strong suit and that open ended ambiguous endings are my favorite.  I have no problem leaving someone hanging and asking for a wee bit more.  I’d rather be asked for more than be told, “Oh my gosh that story just wouldn’t end!”  Even if that means I jump to a random conclusion without spoon feeding anyone.  *SPOILER ALERT* So Mary and Chuck reconcile for no clear cut reason.  That’s marriage.  You don’t have to have a clear cut reason for making it work.  You just do – even if you’ve been screaming bloody murder for weeks (or years) on end… you have a moment and remember what you’re there for… even if it’s just a vague inkling of a thought you can’t express.

I like the ironies and the exaggerations in this one.  It mirrors my mind.  Constant ironies.  Always a hyperbole (or a thousand).  It may not be everyone’s favorite – it wasn’t even PKD’s favorite – but I like it a lot.

I think the most amusing thing about the novel, isn’t the novel itself but rather PKD’s own reaction to it:

“One night, after taking a great number of amphetamines, I sat up reading three novels of mine which I hadn’t read since the galleys: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, CLANS OF THE ALPHANE MOON, and UBIK. Of the three, only UBIK struck me as having any worth. I genuinely enjoyed reading it. But STIGMATA merely puzzled me, especially the last scene & ending. CLANS had one good item: the robot-body programmed to attack Bunny Hentman’s rocket ship (along with everyone else intending to attack it but not doing so) — the robot attacking the ship all alone, and the people in the ship saying, puzzled, “Who’s out there attacking us?” Very funny, I thought… and then the horrible wonder came to me, saying, “But when I wrote it did I intend it to be funny?” I’ll assume I did.” [Selected Letters, Vol. 1, p. 294]

As soon as I finished reading, I handed my copy to the librarians to check in and re-shelve and pulled out Minority Report, which I read all at once.  Although, if I had read the above quote first, I’d have grabbed UBIK.  Solar Lottery, however, is next.

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2 Comments

  1. Scott Holstad said,

    I don’t know if you’ve read Ubik yet, but it’s superior, IMO. Try it out.

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