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Solar Lottery
Philip K. Dick
Gollancz paperback £6.99

review by Mike Philbin

The year is 2203 and the Earth is governed by a bizarre system of leadership whereby public officeholders and the targets of political assassinations alike are chosen by a random twitch of The Bottle. In this maniacal world, Ted Benteley becomes the saviour in a mad struggle for supremacy on the psychic plane.
   Solar Lottery was Philip K. Dick's first novel, published back in the mid-1950s before the psychedelic drugs he became addicted to plagued his work. He has used similar threads in several works, the dehumanisation of contests and lotteries. Were it not for the futuristic setting, this could so easily have seen Dick writing riveting novels of social horrors - if only he hadn't sided with Donald A. Wollheim at Ace Books. Dick could have been one of the greats - a true mass-market writer of contemporary literature showing horrors that none of us thought possible. Unfortunately, this wonderfully gifted writer ended up in the sci-fi ghetto ready to be forgotten, were it not for Hollywood.
   I don't remember Solar Lottery being this action packed, this heart thumping alive or this trippy when I first read it nearly 10 years ago. I am lying here in my bed, my frantically scrolling eyes riveted to the mad rush of words - the script, the mood, the broken-linear-extrapolative future is so truly contemporary - how on earth could the average reader of 1950s' sci-fi have coped with this crazy dash through the lives and minds of those with such an overpowering political persuasion? It must have seemed like some berserker had taken a break from the battle to jot down a few hundred emotionally poisoned pages.
   Definitely a five star book!
Solar Lottery by Philip K. Dick

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