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Time Out Of Joint
Philip K. Dick
Gollancz paperback £6.99

review by Mike Philbin

Time Out Of Joint comes from that golden era of Dick output that contained such 'classics' as Eye In The Sky, The Man Who Japed and, (my favourite) Solar Lottery. These early works, stripped of the drug abuse elements of the author's final books and copyrighted from the late 1950s onwards, remind one of more innocent times after the second world war, tinged with Cold War paranoia - there's a real touch of the early shorts of Kurt Vonnegut in there structure and use of language and domestic situation.
   Here's the skinny: Ragel Gumm earns a living playing the Where Will The Little Green Man Be Next contest in the national newspaper. He plays every day, deciphering the cryptic clue and honing his pattern finding skills to a fine art. He has won every day for the last two years. As you can imagine, he has become something of a celebrity. He starts to suspect that his perfect world where winning is all the keeps the world happy is under threat, he sees things no human should as the very fabric of space and time starts to tatter around the edges giving him glimpses of other past-lives, other universes, other times. He finds artefacts from times no longer about places that never were. With the help of his brother-in-law, Victor Nielson, Ragel Gumm hatches a brilliant plot to find out the truth about his quaint little 1950s' town but what he discovers is beyond his most twisted dreams - a place where sanity itself is stretched to snapping point.
   Reminding one ever so much of The Truman Show (and you can imagine there was a whole lot of inspiration from Dick's cold war novel reformatted for family viewing) this is a great page-turner.
Time Out Of Joint

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