- The Zap Gun
infobox Book |
name = The Zap Gun
image_caption = First edition cover
Philip K. Dick
language = English
Science fiction novel
release_date = 1967
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 176 pp
isbn = NA
"The Zap Gun" is a
1967 science fictionnovel by Philip K. Dick. The novel was expanded from his novella" Project Plowshare", which was first published as a serial in the November 1965 and January 1966 issues of "Worlds Of Tomorrow" magazine.
This novel is set in a then-future 2004. There is still a (theoretical)
Cold Warbetween the United States and its allies and the Soviet Unionand its allies. At the elite governmental level, however, both 'sides' have secretly come to an agreement. They have decided that, instead of continuing the ecologically and economically crippling nuclear and conventional arms race, they will pretend to be constantly developing new weapons, which are then "plowshared". This means that these items are transformed into novel but baroque consumer products. (This appears to be an ironic reference to Operation Plowshare.) Most of these weapon designers are mediums, who create their new designs in trance states.
One Wes-Bloc weapons designer, Lars Powderdry (Mr. Lars of Mr. Lars Incorporated) is the central character- as one can note, weapons have become little more than basically fashion. He is depressed that his industry is little more than a fraud, as none of his 'weapons' are functional. His female Peep-East counterpart is Lilo Topchev, whom he knows nothing about. He also has a mistress, Maren Faine, head of the Paris branch of Mr. Lars, Incorporated.
Apart from the comic overtones of this deception, there is a subplot related to
alien invasion. Sirius-based aliens invade Earth, and are determined to enslave its populace. The aliens' first target is New Orleans, which is enshrouded in a 'gray curtain of death.' Earth has a problem, given the deceptive nature of its arms race and the absence of functional weapons technology. Lilo immediately tries to kill Lars, despite the intentions of their blocs otherwise,but eventually they collaborate. Neither can design functional weapons, however.
There is a further subplot about a
conspiracy theorist, who is elected as an "average man" to the governing body of Wes-Bloc.
The conclusion involves an eclectic mixture of time travel, androids, drugs, toys, and comic books.
* [http://www.philipkdick.com/works_novels_zapgun.html Official PKDick website review]
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