Philip K Dick, spins a tale which can be called no less than stunning. A Scanner Darkly shows a mans decent into madness through drug abuse. If you have ever done any psychedelic I'm sure you might recognize a bit of yourself in the elaborate conversations which get more and more convoluted and in the end usually lead to no conclusion. It is amazing how well Philip can translate an experience to words. But aside from being a headtrip this book brings up several philosophical, moral, ethical and societal issues. Robert Arctor is a narc, a former police officer he now lives as a druggy in order to watch druggies. But in his line of duty he falls victim to drug abuse. He makes friends of the 'heads' (druggies) and has grown to hate 'straights' (those who are clean and well off)Arctor begins by trying to find out who he really is, the narc or the druggy only to find he is both... which ironically leads him toward being neither and nothing. Dick, ever the inventor, has used a drug of his own invention in this story "substance d", the heads call it slow death. It is addictive and slowly destroys certain parts of your brain leading to insanity.This book is good at showing the mentality and condition of those who let themselves fall too deeply to drug abuse. In a note Dick puts at the end he admits that some of the characters were based off people he knowshe says the novel is not a warning but rather an example of what happens when people get to wrapped up in "play" and can't grow up.
This novel is supposedly set in the near future (you can actually date the novel sometime in the late 1990's, which of course is now actually the past) This seems unimportant if it wasn't for the strange technology Philip introduces the main elements of the story could be played out in anytime period past the 60'sI would suggest that you read the novel before seeing the movie. It isn't out as of the date i am writing this but i can't possibly see how it could be translated in its entirety. There is entirely to much inner monologue in this book for it to translate well enough to the big screen. I have heard some audio clips on the site (such as Freck's suicide attempt) which are translated well... but still lack many of what i felt were the most important things about them. If you are a fan of anything Dick has written i suggest you read this book. It is clear by the note at the end that it was an important work to him. It is the second best book i've read by him (my favorite being VALIS)I give this novel 4.5/5