Following a devastating nuclear war, the Moral Reclamation government took over the world and forced its citizens to live by strictly puritanical rules – no premarital sex, drunkenness, or displaying of neon signs – all of which are reinforced through a constant barrage of public messages. The chief purveyor of these messages is Alan Purcell, next in line to become head of the propaganda bureau. But there is just one problem: a statue of the government’s founder has been vandalized and the head is hidden in Purcell’s closet. In this buttoned-up society, maybe all a revolution needs is one really great prank….
Lacking any real vigour and having a final third that is almost vacuous, the streamlined story of The Man Who Japed flows very well and glimpses of PKD magic are there.
Interesting references to memory recall, solipsism and skepticism are within and hint at stronger themes unfortunately not explored thoroughly. Instead leaning on an alternate society with allusions to the Second World War; which were so prominent in science fiction of the fifties.
This is not PKD at his best, and often reads like a collaborative effort. But, still I found myself enthralled in the world created and even if the ending disappoints, the story felt complete.
The Man Who Japed has one of the finest titles to a Dick novel, second only to ‘Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said’, and although combining a number of Dickian elements feels a stripped back attempt.
Narrated by: Luke Daniels
Despite the ludicrous accents employed, to the point of being Monty Python’esque, the narrator does a good job of injecting some much needed life.
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Release Date: 26/06/2012
First Edition: First published by Ace Books as one half of Ace Double D-193, bound dos-à-dos with The Space Born by E. C. Tubb
Most Recent Edition: Published January 1st 2012 by Mariner Books
Personal Favourite: Published 1992 by 東京創元社 as いたずらの問題 (Itazura No Mondai) [As an aside I do love the original artwork from 1956 – so this Japanese cover is a close second]