Monday, 15 January 2018

The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick

The World Jones Made by Philip K Dick
First published in America by Ace Books in 1956.

My 1950s read for my 2017-18 Decade Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Floyd Jones is sullen, ungainly and quite possibly mad, but he really can see exactly one year into the future. And this talent means that in a very short time he rises from being a disgruntled carnival fortune-teller to convulse an entire planet. For Jones becomes a demagogue, whipping up the ideal-starved population into a frenzy against the threat of the 'drifters', enormous single-cell protoplasms that may be landing on Earth soon.

But, in a world of engineered mutants, hermaphrodite sex performers in drug-fuelled nightclubs, Jones is a tragic messiah. His limited precognition renders him helpless because he cannot bring himself to fight against what he knows will happen ...

There's greatness in the book, but there's some seriously questionable moments too. As classic PKD goes, it's one of his earlier novels and I could see glimpses of the style which would mature so successfully later on. Here though, we have tons of ideas but, I thought, not enough book to hold them all! The World Jones Made is short yet combines three strong storylines - to which other authors would probably given a book apiece. The eponymous Jones is a fascinating character, Cassandra-like initially, but realising the satisfaction of actually being believed and venerated for his skill. PKD shows the global reaction to his leadership, scarily prescient given the current climate, with a good sense of human desire and fallibility.

I was intrigued by the extra-terrestrial elements, but felt these didn't stand so well especially against modern scientific knowledge. I do realise it isn't completely fair to judge a 1950s book against 21st century information! I won't mention specific instances here in order to avoid inadvertently giving away plot points, but readers should probably be prepared to gloss over a few hang-on-a-minute moments! Overall though, I just wanted this book to have been at least twice its length and to delve much more deeply into the questions it raises. I felt characters and setting were sketched rather than fully drawn so were ultimately unsatisfying. Such grand ideas deserve a Really Big Book!

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Philip K Dick / Science fiction / Books from America


  1. Ah, yeah, I've read books like that, where there was so much crammed into one book that there just kind of wasn't enough space to do it all successfully. Sounds like it had a pretty cool premise at least!

    1. Yes, and it's great fun :-)
      I should definitely read more classic scifi - if I ever get the time!