RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH
Philip K. Dick
This unpublished (c. 1976) semi-autobiographical novel, like The Divine Invasion (1981) and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982), presents Dick (1928-82) in his latter-day role as a religious explicator; and formulates, in science-fictional guise, his notions on the identity and purpose of God--all set against the familiar Dick backdrop of creeping fascism, thought control and governmental paranoia. At the end of the 1960's, Ferris F. Fremont, having arranged the murder of all his political opponents, becomes President. Embodying Reagan's charisma, Nixon's deviousness, and Joe McCarthy's compulsive pursuit of nonexistent subversive conspiracies, Fremont is enormously popular; thanks to his overtly fascist stance, even the Russians are won over. Meanwhile, obscure record-store clerk Nicholas Brady moulders away in Berkeley--until he starts receiving dream-messages from a super-being out in space, Valis (Vast Active Living Intelligence System), via an ancient alien satellite, Radio Free Albemuth; Valis guides Nicholas to change his life-style and actively oppose the Fremont regime. However, Fremont has organized a secret police force aimed at eliminating the mysterious "Aramchek" conspiracy--and they soon close in on Nicholas and his sf-writer friend, Philip K. Dick. Valis is, of course, God, and has been trying to help the oppressed people of Earth since Roman times. But this new effort by Valis is doomed: Fremont discovers Valis' Aramchek identity; the Russians destroy the Albemuth satellite; and Nicholas is shot by the secret police. Well-constructed, absorbing at first, later somberly single-minded: a bleak and utterly depressing statement.