Small disclaimer: I’ll be the first to admit that sci-fi is not my favorite genre. That being said, this week’s reading was a bit of a struggle for me so I relied heavily on the analyses that I found in my research of this novel.
Arguably, I think one of the most interesting aspects of this novel is the intricate way the authors weaves in and out of different narratives. While this isn’t the first novel I’ve read with this type of point of view, I think it might be one of the best. He has an incredible talent for showing how characters come in contact with each other through different contexts and has a unique way of almost pitting them against each other through their intentions. I found an apologetically lengthy quote that I think explains his characterizations well:
“PKD had a particular talent to imagine the inner lives of other people. Throughout his career, he created a series of ambivalent antagonists, and none are better realized than Arnie Kott. Kott is not an evil man. He is sexist, racist and exploitative, but he is also generous, cultured and adaptable. He is a gentle tyrant, a small-time crook with a soft underbelly. Kott is the Supreme Goodmember of the Water Workers’ Local union. In other words, he’s a big fish in a small pond. And it’s not long before he has drawn Jack Bohlen, who might in theory be regarded as this novel’s protagonist, into his sphere of influence.”
Through the use of this characterization, the author creates this completely unreal setting with the most real characters and I think that’s a very noteworthy quality of the novel. Especially when you take into account the amount of nuero-divergent characters and how they’re involved.
The basic idea behind these complex characters is that mental illness such as schizophrenia is actually some sort of “derangement of time” (From the same source). As much as I love the interactions between the characters in this novel, I think there are a lot of issues with this idea of the story. We’ve spent a lot of time in class talking about how neuro-divergents are portrayed in media and I think this is another example of how characterization can create false beliefs and stereotypes. This is another case where a neuro-divergent is portrayed as having a special power but is also pretty different than the autistic savant that we covered earlier in the semester. Part of me wonders why there aren’t more novels with a neuro-divergent character without these special powers but I think that a lot of it is just a way to thicken the plot, which is sad and potentially harming the neuro-divergent and ASD communities. I don’t think that authors necessary plan for these things to occur or even realize what they’re doing but I hope that in the future we have more neuro-divergent authors and less neuro-divergent “super powers”.