Adenoid Steam From An Eclectic Veep

The Unfolding Text - Episode 1067

From the LA Times Review of Books

EIGHTY EIGHT YEAR OLD AUTHOR PHILIP J. DICK IS NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY, with his 1968 novel 'Humpty Dumpty In New York' released as it was at the height of the Democrat Convention riots, and in the year which would see two brutal assassinations, themselves controversial to this day.

His latest work, and what he said in a recent interview with Times writer Leona Rutherford will be his last, is the summation of the last twenty-six years of his life. As unfocused as Radio Free Fomalhaut, as weirdly autobiographical as the VEILS tetrology, his new book is sure to divide the reading public, even if it has become the fortieth of his works to be adapted for the screen.

The book is of course 'Adenoid Steam From An Eclectic Veep'.

Some see it as a welcome return to form, and a kind of sequel to his 1963 award winning work 'The Woman in the Deep Moat'. Others, like Moral Majority leader S. Edwin King, have strongly denounced 'Eclectic Veep' as "pernicious and treasonous filth".

The main storyline of the book is ludicrously unlikely, and no one disputes that, least of all the author. He claims that the idea came to him one afternoon after hospital treatment. He was sitting at home resting when he saw a special report on the refurbishment of the World Trade Center in New York.

"It occurred to me immediately, viscerally, that this was our London," the author explained in our interview.

"Just as H.G. Wells wrote an anti-colonial screed in the form of magnificent science fiction about Martians conquering first England and then the world, I too felt compelled to write against what I see as America's sick and unhealthy obsession with minding other countries' business and starting wars when we don't get our way. I mean- how many states do we need? 60? Isn't 54 enough? At this rate our flag's going to look ridiculous."

To make his point, as readers know, P.J. Dick posits a world where the "middle east" as he calls it is a hodge podge of backward nations still following the 'muslim' credo. The work is amazingly well researched, just as 'Deep Moat' was; there actually was a 'muslim' cult centuries ago, although it was annihilated as were so many others by the Zaire Hegemony. Dick follows this unlikely confection with one that some readers find not only more unlikely but frankly unbelievable if not outright offensive: that a deeply compromised 'uniparty' (Dick's term for the self involved political class and its media lackeys in this dystopia) conspires to allow a mass casualty event on American soil - the destruction of the White House, the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in simultaneous attacks carried out by 'muslims'.

Someone should study America's fascination with its own destruction, because this geopolitical horror-cum-scifi tale has become Dick's biggest selling novel in over fifty years, and has spawned a whole industry of imitators. With Spielberg and Cruise attached, the film version will almost certainly be a billion dollar hit.

The Veep of the title is another fascinating element Dick added, and another tribute to his amazing research skills, undimmed even at age eighty-eight.

Many readers were amazed to discover that there really was a 'Richard Cheney', although in the real world he was killed in the Chicago Air Crash Disaster, the same terrible tragedy that took the life of Vice President Ford and Secretary of the Treasury E. Howard Hunt.

The Cheney of the book is an incredibly sinister figure, likened to a steam powered android whose behavioral tics and almost literally smoking breath conjure up a Mephistophelean image.

Most readers are stunned by the visualization Dick achieves, as he describes in detail a world that begins in a multilateral power structure before evolving into one more like the Pax Americana that we are all familiar with from the real world.

There are enormous leaps of credibility required to make the book work: a simultaneous implausible stand down of all our available fighter aircraft whilst at the same time all other aircraft from the joint services are tied up in elaborate wargames- the perfect cover for the real attacks that take place. Likewise the heavy handed symbolism of the date of this mass casualty event: 2001, that most Kubrickian of years, and the day: September the eleventh, or in numerals- 9/11- leading to the moving climax of the first half of the novel, when hundreds of first responders, summoned by 911 calls, are killed as the secret charges in the building detonate.

Some have suggested that Dick has an active hatred of his country to write such a perversely violent and graphic novel, and to seemingly revel in the humiiation and terror that we suffer in his story.

The author disagrees, strongly.

"Adenoid is a novel about God's plan," Dick asserts. "America's judgment day comes at last, but what triumphs is the essential goodness of ordinary Americans. In the final sequence, the show trials of the conspirators who allowed the enemy in, I make the point, said by the Staff Sergeant of Marines Ronald Reagan Jr., 'America is its people, not its government'. That is what I truly believe."

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