- Radio Free Albemuth
infobox Book |
name = Radio Free Albemuth
image_caption = Dust-jacket from the first edition
Philip K. Dick
country = USA
language = English
Dystopian science fiction
release_date = 1985
media_type = Print (
pages = 214 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-877-95762-2
A posthumously published
novelby Philip K. Dick, written in 1976, "Radio Free Albemuth" (originally titled VALISystem A) was his first attempt to deal in fiction with his experiences of early 1974. When the publishers, Bantam, requested extensive rewrites he canned the project, reworking some of the material into his subsequent "Valis" trilogy. When Arbor House acquired the rights in 1985they published an edition under the current title (the original was too close to VALIS, already published by then), prepared from the corrected typescript given by PKD to his friend Tim Powers.
In this alternate history the corrupt US President Ferris F Fremont (FFF for 666,
Number of the Beast) becomes chief executive in the sixties. The character is best described as an amalgam of Joseph McCarthyand Richard Nixon, who abrogates civil libertiesand human rightsthrough positing a conspiracy theorycentred around a fictitious subversiveorganisation known as "Aramchek". In addition to this, he is associated with a right-wing populist movement called "Friends of the American People" (Fappers).
Ironically enough, the President's
paranoiaand opportunismlead to the establishment of a real resistance movement to him, which is organised, through eponymous radio broadcasts from a mysterious alien satellite, by a superintelligent, extraterrestrial, omnipotent being (or network) named VALIS.
As with its "successor",
VALIS, this novel is autobiographical. Dick himself is a major character, though fictitious protagonist Nicholas Brady serves as a vehicle for Dick's alleged gnostic theophanyon February 11, 1974. In addition, Sadassa Silvia is a character who claims that Ferris Fremont is actually a communist covert agent, and that her mother recruited him for the Soviet Unionafter she joins the resistance.
Valis, the book deals with his highly-personal style of Christianity(or Gnosticism), as well as with the moral repercussions of being an informer for the authorities, and his dislike of the Republican Party, satirizing Nixon's America as a Stalinistor neo-fascistpolice state. Eventually, Fremont captures and imprisons Dick and Brady after the latter produces and distributes a recordthat urges subliminal messagesof revolt against the Fremont dictatorship. Brady and Silvia are executed, and Dick narrates the concluding pasage about his life in a concentration camp, where "his" latest work is penned by a ghost writerand regime-approved hack. Suddenly, he hears other music, with another subliminal message. As Dick hears children singing the tune, he realises that all may not be lost after all.
Relationship to Valis
When he rewrote Radio Free Albemuth as "Valis" beforehand, Dick incorporated the plotline of "Radio Free Albemuth" as a backdrop film that recapitulated the central theological and existential concerns of his novel as a
mise en abyme- that is, a miniature copy of his central preoccupations at this stage of his literary career, common to both works."
John Alan Simon is producing, writing, and directing the upcoming
film adaptationfor "Radio Free Albemuth". Alanis Morissettestars in the lead role. A release date has yet to be determined.Filming took place during October 2007 in Los Angeles at Lacy Street Studios and multiple locations for the film version which will be in 2008.Phillip Kim was the executive producer.
last = Brown
first = Charles N.
authorlink = Charles N. Brown
coauthors = William G. Contento
title = The Locus Index to Science Fiction (1984-1998)
url = http://www.locusmag.com/index/b137.htm#A1817.104
accessdate = 2008-01-14
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