Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny – Deus Irae

Title: Deus Irae
Author: Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny
Year: 1976

There are books you know you have to read, sometimes even without knowing very much about the book itself. When I heard that Philip K. Dick at one point had come up with an idea that he didn’t feel he knew enough about Christianity and religion to write himself, but was later contacted and offered help by Roger Zelazny, a science fiction writer I like quite a lot, I knew that Deus Irae had to be something special. Then again, there are books which superficially seem to be the best ever published, but when examined more closely turn out to be rather humdrum.

Unfortunately, Deus Irae (Latin for God of Wrath) is exactly the kind of book described above. I had hoped for a combination of Dick’s usual play with unreality and a deeply religious theme, something which in fact would be fairly close to what I’m trying to write myself (or what I would have liked to write if I had Zelazny in my address book). Instead, the book has a fairly straightforward story covering an post-apocalyptic world in which a gnosticism-like religion worshipping the man who destroyed the world flourishes. In this world, Tibor McMasters, a crippled being with legs or arms, but with cybernetic substitutes, is commissioned to paint a mural for the church dedicated to the Deus Irae, but since nobody really knows what he looks like, Tibor sets out on a pilgrimage to find him.

Most parts of this book are mediocre and not very interesting, to be frank. There are some sections which elevate themselve above the norm, such as an interlaced story relating to the God of Wrath himself, as well as the parts containing the old, and often crazy, machines and computers of the past. Sadly, these are exceptions and do not manage to make the whole project float. Strangely enough, I think the language in this novel is decidedly worse than most other Dick novels (I usually like his lanugage!), not to mention Zelazny’s. i don’t know if it’s my taste that is changing or if this book simlpy wasn’t very successful at all. Regardless of which, Deus Irae was a big disappointment and I can only give it two and a half snails.

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  1. Svante’s avatar

    Trist. Konceptet låter ju åtminstone bitvis snudd på fantastiskt, annars.

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    1. Olle Linge’s avatar

      Jag kanske är överdrivet kritisk just eftersom jag förväntade mig att boken skulle vara så mycket häftigare. Konceptet är ganska coolt, det är bara det att jag tycker själva pilgrimsfärden (det vill säga större delen av boken) är jättedålig. Mitt betyg kan tas med en nya salt, om än en ganska liten.

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