Nick and the Glimmung by Philip K Dick

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Nick and the Glimmung by Philip K Dick

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: If you didn't expect a PKD YA title to even exist then this is worth noting, even if you'd be slightly better off in the target age bracket.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 128 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575132993

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Meet Nick. He lives on a future Earth, where multiple large classrooms are taught by just one holographic teacher, which might sound impractical but can actually help with advice when you declare to the class that you are breaking the law. Nick, you see, has a pet cat, and in this massively over-populated and under-resourced world, pets are illegal. There's a simple solution – wait for the anti-pet man to turn up with his weaponry and armour and dispose of it, but the family have decided to take the other way out – emigrate to an entirely different world. Hence they embark on the trip to be pioneer farmers on Plowman's Planet, even when they're forewarned of a host of different and most unusual animals already resident there. That advice still doesn't really prepare them for the battle whose crossfire in which they immediately get caught…

Being a fan of the more esoteric reading I have long known to look out for the unusual, and that includes authors of adult books branching out into those for younger audiences. Heck, if Ian McEwan can do it, then what's to stop anyone, I always say (an example soon to be usurped by Arthur Miller). But I didn't know Philip K Dick had done it – and no, Humpty Dumpty in Oakland is not it. This book, however, is, and since it's not been published often since its 1988 debut this is a welcome volume. Actually, on the merits it has, you can make that read 'most welcome'.

Much to the book's credit is the expected way the audience is not spoken down to. It's very much for the 9-13 age bracket, at a guess, and while providing much adventure for a boy and his cat and his parents, it doesn't read as twee or juvenile. What helps this very much is that this is actually a spin-off from a book from the 1960s, Galactic Pot-Healer, and I doubt very much if this originated through some weird contractual demand. This reads very much as if Dick was telling this story purely because he wanted to.

It's a fine story, too, in its way, with Nick et al arriving amidst a whole ecology of weird, native creatures – including those that handily and matter-of-factly burst out into English, which seems to surprise nobody. The Glimmung, however, is something else – an evil entity that has managed to create sides in a war on Plowman's Planet, and it's into this nasty circumstance the good people find themselves entering. Add in an artefact that's a lot more than a mere MacGuffin, a suitable yet ever-PG level of threat and drama, and you have more than a decent read. Adults will pick up on multiple silly choices, coincidences, rules formed only to be broken and illogicalities, meaning this won't be universally loved, but that aside it works, and – even if it comes from an author whose whole career was esoteric reading – this branch out into juvenilia was very enjoyable.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Esoteric? Revisiting old texts? Surprising? All the above also apply to William Shakespeare's The Phantom of Menace by Ian Doescher, which most age audiences should be able to cope with.

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Buy Nick and the Glimmung by Philip K Dick at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nick and the Glimmung by Philip K Dick at


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