Solar Lottery
April 18, 2016 11:55 AM - by Philip K. Dick - Subscribe

In 2203 anyone can become the ruler of the solar system. There are no elections, no interviews, no prerequisites whatsoever—it all comes down to the random turns of a giant wheel. But when a new Quizmaster takes over, the old one still keeps some rights, namely the right to hire an unending stream of assassins to attempt to kill the new leader. In the wake of the most recent change in leadership, employees of the former ruler scurry to find an assassin who can get past telepathic guards.
posted by hobgadling (2 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I hadn't read this one before--I liked it a lot. The plot is a bit more down-to-earth than usual but there are still plenty of wild ideas. The ending was actually a pretty effective surprise, I didn't see it coming but it wasn't just a cheap twist, it was set up pretty fairly.

Another PKD trademark is out in force here: a mild father-figure/hero-worship relationship between the protagonist and his/her employer. I guess so far (in the book club) we're 2 for 2 in that department.

And 2/2 in adversaries sitting down together and negotiating/explaining their positions to each other. On the one hand it frequently feels like he's trying to humanize both characters--logically they should just be trying to shoot each other on sight or whatever, but instead they have to talk it out first, they can't just be totally cold-blooded. But on the other hand a lot of his villains really are deeply malevolent at heart. Like Moore here is just pure jealousy and impotent rage, and Verrick is a little better but only seems to care about power for its own sake.

Why are all the women topless or naked all the time? Did I miss an explanation?

This should get a retroactive Bad Sex in Fiction Award: "They lay satiated and languid, among their crumpled clothes, bodies steaming moistly with fulfilled loved."

The action was a lot of fun, especially the bit where Wakeman is drawing messages in the sand.

And I thought the big theme (should you be loyal to people or to ideas?) was handled really well. Lots of different angles explored, no real conclusions, not that you'd ever get a tidy conclusion from PKD anyway I guess. Eleanor and Bentley even had an explicit debate on the topic but it didn't feel out-of-place.

So overall I'd rate this pretty high I guess.
posted by equalpants at 8:48 PM on April 19, 2016

Aww, I hope I wasn't the only one who read this? Well, I'm heading down to the library to get the next book anyway :).
posted by equalpants at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2016

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