notes from the field: The Clans of the Alphane Moon

Clans of the Alphane Moon

I finished The Clans of the Alphane Moon by Philip K. Dick on the flight over to Las Vegas. Dick sets up an intriguing scenario for the novel, involving a society made up of former patients of a mental asylum on the eponymous moon whose peaceful if fractious existence is threatened by the plans of the authorities of the planet Terra to restore their claims to the territory.

A bitter struggle between Chuck Rittersdorf, a CIA agent husband who hits on a plan to carry out the perfect murder of Mary, his marriage counselor ex-wife, while she is serving as the Terra representative on the moon provides the central narrative thrust of the fast-paced and thought-provoking plot. It’s just a pity that the conflict between them ends like a schmaltzy love story. Or does it?

What I always find most interesting about reading Dick’s novels is tracking what he got right and wrong about the future he was describing. Although his world is full of amazing gadgets like video phones, none of them are mobile devices because he completely missed the emergence of digital technologies in his predictions. His descriptions of high-speed taxi flights whisking you from the west coast to the east coast in an instant are extremely enticing, but unfortunately over fifty years since the novel was published are still a long way from becoming a reality.

The Clans of the Alphane Moon is an engaging Sci-Fi romp if you’re a fan of the genre. I wouldn’t rank it as highly as the author’s classics like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and The Man in the High Castle, but (and perhaps I am being a little unfair in my comparison here) I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than William Gibson’s Agency.

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