A Scanner Darkly - Philip K. Dick

What does a scanner see? he asked himself. I mean, really see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does a passive infrared scanner like they used to use or a cube-type holo-scanner like they use these days, the latest thing, see into me - into us - clearly or darkly? I hope it does, he thought, see clearly, because I can't any longer these days see into myself. I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too.

A Scanner Darkly is a sci-fi dystopian novel written by Philip K. Dick, first published in 1977. The story follows a narcotics agent, Bob Arctor, that's working on an undercover mission to find out the origin of Substance D, a drug that damages the links between the brain's left and right hemispheres. While he was using the drug himself to get closer to the supplier, Bob found himself becomes another victim of the mysterious drug's effect.

This is the most depressing book I've read from the author so far. The creeping paranoia stroke first and played dominantly for the first half of the book, but then the book took a sudden turn and jumped into a dark pit of despair. As the author's note telling the reader at the end of the book, there's no moral to take from this story and it's rightly so. This is a very personal story about the author and his friends' experience with drugs (I assume). A very sad and tragic one.

Despite that, I'm kinda disappointed because the plot was not as developed as I would love it to be. The story was secondary to the main rollercoaster that is Bob Arctor's mind trip to insanity island. There are a lot of story elements that I love that was just briefly mentioned just for the sake of moving the story forward. But, again, I got so much more than what I was expecting from this book. One of a kind of experience.

A Scanner Darkly
Philip K. Dick
First Published
January 1977