Mini-Review - The Man Who Japed by Philip K. Dick
The Man Who Japed
by Philip K. Dick, 1956, 168 pages
TLDR: 4 out of 5 for a solid Dick story with wonderful humour.
I picked this up at a used bookstore, not knowing at the time whether this was one of the books people consider a good one or one written during what some have referenced as Dick's drug-fueled prolific period when he wrote mainly for cash. Well, apparently he wrote 5 books this year, so how good could it be? As it turns out, pretty good! I read somewhere he considered it his best novel to date. It reads very much like an American Strugatsky novel, and pokes fun at all kinds of things.
At it's heart, it's a novel about a man who runs a small company that prepares Moral Reclamation packets for a densely settled and morally sensitive high-rise society. He's caught the eye of the higher-ups and they have offered him the job of Director of Telemedia, which is a big deal. But he's hesitant to take it, because, you see, he keeps japing things and doesn't know why. He japed the statue of the founder of Moral Reclamation of society by cutting off its head and making it look like the statue was kicking it. At first he didn't even remember doing it. So he needs to figure this out before accepting the position, lest it come back to bite him. He seeks the help of a quack shrink and his nerdy friends (reminiscent of X-files Lone Gunmen gang). And meanwhile his wife is worried he'll get caught. I found it all quite charming - it has the hallmarks of other Dick novels (uncertainly over reality, wonderfully humane anti-hero characters) with a dash of the Strugatsky brother's appreciation for the absurd travails of living and working in a bureaucracy.