New Wave Sci-Fi 75 (29)
April 15, 2018
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s New Wave era (from 1964–1983, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s complete New Wave Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Philip K. Dick’s A Maze of Death (1970).
“My books (& stories) are intellectual (conceptual) mazes,” Dick would later reflect in his Exegesis, “& I am in an intellectual maze in trying to figure out our situation (who we are & how we look into the world, & world as illusion, etc.) because the situation is a maze.” This proto-gnostic apophenic thriller, written in 1968 and inspired in part by the author’s only LSD trip, is perhaps Dick’s maze-iest. One by one, fourteen human colonists, none of whom understands their collective mission, are transferred to the planet Delmak-O — which is populated by gelatinous cubes who offer advice in the form of I Ching-like anagrams. A naturalist, a linguist, a geologist, a theologian, a physician, a pyschologist, and so forth: They are each eccentric and disgruntled, particularly once they begin to die off. What is the factory-like building towards which they are drawn? Are they trapped in a maze — being observed and experimented upon? Or are they perhaps dead — or in some kind of limbo state? Lost fans, read this one.
Fun fact: Except for Ubik, this is the book Dick most frequently references in his Exegesis.
NEW WAVE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: 75 Best New Wave (1964–1983) Sci-Fi Novels | Back to Utopia: Fredric Jameson’s theorizing about New Wave sci-fi | Douglas Adams | Poul Anderson | J.G. Ballard | John Brunner | William Burroughs | Octavia E. Butler | Samuel R. Delany | Philip K. Dick | Frank Herbert | Ursula K. Le Guin | Barry N. Malzberg | Moebius (Jean Giraud) | Michael Moorcock | Alan Moore | Gary Panter | Walker Percy | Thomas Pynchon | Joanna Russ | James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon) | Kurt Vonnegut | PLUS: Jack Kirby’s Golden Age and New Wave science fiction comics.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.