Review of Counter-Clock World by Philip K. Dick

SFFaudio Review

Counter-Clock World by Philip K. DickCounter-Clock World
By Philip K. Dick, Read by Patrick Lawlor
8 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Published: June 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4558-1430-5
Themes: / Time travel
/ Science Fiction / Reanimation

Publisher summary:  

In Counter-Clock World, time has begun moving backward. People greet each other with “goodbye,” blow smoke into cigarettes, and rise from the dead. When one of those rising dead is the famous and powerful prophet Anarch Peak, a number of groups start a mad scramble to find him first — but their motives are not exactly benevolent, because Anarch Peak may just be worth more dead than alive, and these groups will do whatever they must to send him back to the grave.

What would you do if your long-dead relatives started coming back? Who would take care of them? And what if they preferred being dead? In Counter-Clock World, one of Dick’s most theological and philosophical novels, these troubling questions are addressed; though, as always, you may have to figure out the answers yourself.

Counter-Clock World is an expansion of Philip K. Dick’s short story Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday. The ideas are interesting enough to flesh out into a longer story, but that also allows the cracks to show.

In this world, because of something called the Hobart Effect, time has begun moving backward. People get younger, rise from the dead, food is disgorged, and knowledge is destroyed. Because of that, libraries hold all the power. Even the police are terrified of the librarians.  The bits with the terrifying librarians were particularly funny, and this reader may have laughed hysterically in her car.

Time moves backwards… but not exactly. While everyone has to unsmoke their cigarettes and disgorge their food, there are still events going on that didn’t happen before. And when a human has unaged enough that they have to go back into the womb, any old womb will do. Some of those inconsistencies make the world not as plausible as it should have been in order to focus on the story.

The world building is more successful than the characters, which are terribly flat and uninteresting. Lotta, the wife of Sebastian Hermes, the owner of the Hermes Vitarium, is particularly vapid. Of course, she’s getting younger and dumber all the time, so maybe that is to be expected. The female characters are all conniving or sniveling, and the male characters are heroic but stupid. It got old. The main plot point is about a prophet coming back to life, but that kind of gets lost in the laser battles in the library.

Patrick Lawlor is a great reader with excellent enunciation. By listening to it, I realized how often Philip K. Dick uses alliteration and adverbs, she says knowingly.

Posted by Jenny Colvin