There’s a unique style to Philip K. Dick’s work that can perhaps be called unforgiving: his writing isn’t easy and straightforward; you have to work at it and make sure you keep up, because he’s just going to throw you in the middle of his complex world and drag you along for one crazy ride. The Crack in Space is a perfect example of this, recently released in a minimalist-looking new edition from Mariner Books, where the world is at a distant point in our future and all is not well. While technology has advanced, it seems that humanity has not, as it is a world divided by the color of one’s skin, and now there’s a black man running for president.
In this world, people are able to zap across continents and off planet in record time using “scuttler” tubes, until a lowly maintenance worker discovers a malfunctioning scuttler tube that has a hole leading to an alternate world. He enters this new parallel dimension and is soon killed. As news of this other world spreads, Jim Briskin, who could become the first black president, sees a big opportunity. There are millions of people (mostly non-white) who are in cryopreservation known as “bibs,” looking to be revived when a solution is found to the world’s overpopulation problems. Briskin hopes to use the promise of setting all these bibs free in the new world to help his presidency.
The only problem is that there are some beings on the other side that seem to be a form of our ancestors, Homo erectus, known as Peking Man, who beat out the Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons on this world to become the dominant species, and they aren’t about to let Homo sapiens walk all over them. For a book that is barely two hundred pages long, Dick manages to do an incredible job of revealing a complex world with plenty of unusual and unforgettable characters that will keep any scifi fan hooked until the very last page.
Originally written on February 13, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.
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