Riptide” (1998) is one of the few Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child books to not feature characters who appear elsewhere, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Featuring coastal Maine (where Preston makes his home for part of the year), “Riptide” is an early P&C blend of medical mystery, geographical oddities, history lesson, codebreaking and treasure hunt.
Philip K. Dick’s “The Unteleported Man” (written in 1964, published in 1966) is usually reviewed today in its expanded form as “Lies, Inc.” (1984). While it’s great that we have both versions available, this is a rare case where Dick’s expansion made the book worse, so I think the original version is deserving of a look on its own. It can be tracked down fairly easily; I found it as part of a 1972 Ace Double with “Dr. Futurity.” (Be careful, as some versions of what we now know as “Lies, Inc.” were initially published as “The Unteleported Man.” It’s unavoidably confusing.)
Reliquary” (1997) is the second Pendergast novel from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and even though he again doesn’t show up until quite a ways into the book, the FBI agent plays a more central role than in “Relic.” It’s also the second New York Museum of Natural History novel, but while it does include some scenes in the grand building and features employees Margo Green and Dr. Frock, this sequel gets out into the city – and beneath it.
In “The Divine Invasion” (written in 1980, published in 1981), Philip K. Dick is done apologizing for being obsessed with religion, his search for God, and his quest to cogently spell out the nature of the supernatural as beamed to him via a pink laser in 1974. Both drafts of “VALIS” – “Radio Free Albemuth” and “VALIS” itself – tiptoe into the subject, but in “The Divine Invasion,” things really start to happen.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s second book together, “Mount Dragon” (1996), is a mix of harrowingly current (the threat of a virus that could cause a deadly pandemic) and outdated (an early example of a very intuitive, user-friendly website). They arguably pour too much into one novel; for example, the closing chase through the hot New Mexico desert touches upon thirst, the importance of watering your horses, Anasazi ruins and other issues they’d explore with more passion in “Thunderhead.”
The “Total Recall” novelization (1990) by Piers Anthony is the only instance of a Philip K. Dick story being adapted into a movie and then back into book form. Dick famously declined to write a novelization for “Blade Runner,” instead insisting that “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” be reissued. And other than this one, no PKD film adaptations have been novelized; instead, Dick’s novel or short story collection is often reissued with a tie-in cover.
Acouple years before writing “Galactic Pot-Healer” (1969), Philip K. Dick invented that story’s world (Plowman’s Planet) and villain (Glimmung) in the children’s novel “Nick and the Glimmung” (written in 1966, published in 1988). Although Wikipedia says the two books are set in the same continuity, I find it to be more of a case of Dick recycling names, as he does throughout his career.
As it did for many fans, “Relic” (1995) launched my appreciation for the books of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – both as a duo and as individual authors. I’ve devoured all of their fiction since their co-authored debut, and in some ways they have improved as writers, but always in the back of my mind was how good “Relic” was and how I’d like to re-read it. I had recalled it being better than Michael Crichton’s “The Lost World,” which came out the same year.
As Philip K. Dick continues his police state/drug war thematic trilogy with the second leg, “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” (written in 1970, published in 1974), he gets away from the dark humor and space aliens of “Our Friends from Frolix 8” (1970) and digs into this society’s impact on individuals. Dick would mix despair and grim humor in “A Scanner Darkly” (1977), but in “Tears” he gives a straight-on portrayal of what this world is like for a citizen (Jason Taverner) and a police officer (Felix Buckman).
Our Friends from Frolix 8” (written in 1969, published in 1970) kicks off Philip K. Dick’s thematic police state/drug war trilogy, and although “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said” and “A Scanner Darkly” won more awards, this one is nearly as great. PKD satirizes and/or paints the likely progression of an all-seeing state, but for the first time the author finds an answer to why the masses don’t openly rebel.