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A Scanner Darkly

Written by: Philip K. Dick
Narrated by: Paul Giamatti
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (36 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bob Arctor is a dealer of the lethally addictive drug Substance D. Fred is the police agent assigned to tail and eventually bust him. To do so, Fred takes on the identity of a drug dealer named Bob Arctor. And since Substance D, which Arctor takes in massive doses, gradually splits the user's brain into two distinct, combative entities, Fred doesn't realize he is narcing on himself.

Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick's industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.

©1977 Philip K. Dick (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.

What listeners say about A Scanner Darkly

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    5 out of 5 stars

bad trip

listening to this right after quitting my affair with drugs alcohol and self destruction was extremely painful. and maybe not the best thing for me, but I found it very powerful and certainly strengthened my resolve to stay quit.

1 person found this helpful

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Great performance!

Best narration that I have found so far. Giamatti is worth the price of admission.

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  • Randall
  • 2009-04-25

Drugs are bad

Having lived through it, Dick nailed the 60s drug culture perfectly. I thought it was very funny and well written, love Dicks books.

116 people found this helpful

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  • Kari
  • 2019-06-08

Profound

I first read this book as a daily opiate addict. I connected with it on an emotional level and felt understood in a lot of ways. I'm thankful to have escaped my own nemesis with minimal long term damage. It was interesting to re-read this on the flip side. I have great empathy for the characters and the millions of people they represent both deceased and still breathing.

7 people found this helpful

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  • M. Lehiste
  • 2019-04-26

Giamatti is excellent narrator, it's a pleasure!

Paul Giamatti should narrate more books, because he is just perfect for this. The story itself felt somewhat disjointed, so I actually watched the 2006 movie with the same name - A Scanner Darkly to fill in the gaps & give me the full grasps of the story, still in the end it leaves you feel like it is a collection of vignettes that the author PKD experienced himself when going through the drug abuse & recovery period of his life, so I would say this book has less sci-fi elements and it is more about life experiences and stories from the dark side of the society.

3 people found this helpful

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  • mrgroovy69
  • 2019-07-20

hmm....

I think PKD was on Substance D when he wrote this. Many spots were confusing. Way too many rambling conversations. The narrator was excellent though. He really brought the characters to life. If not for the narrator I would not have finished this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-04-07

Good but what the heck is going on

I liked it. It was engaging and kept my interest which far too few books do these days. However, I either missed it or it wasn't fully explained exactly what the heck was happening in the bigger picture ie with Donna and the guy from new passage. I would have liked to known... Oh well. Paul is a great narrator, I had no idea. I will listen to more of his if he does something other than Stephen King.

20 people found this helpful

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  • JOHN
  • 2009-06-28

"Dark" is the operative word

I am not sure about this one. To be sure, Paul Giamatti's performance is perfect. This guy is quite a talent. However, the material he reads is bizarre, as I am sure Philip K Dick intended it to be. The story is a bleak depiction of the southern California drug subculture in the then future of the late 1990's (the book was written in the late 1970s). Many of the supposed "futuristic" devices employed are dated, which seem to add to the strangeness of the story.

As the main character, Bob Arctor, an undercover narc who becomes addicted to "Substance D" begins to move in and out of reality, the reader/listener does so right along with him. As a result, I found the experience strange and uncomfortable.

I believe this story was semi-autobiographical, learning a little about P.K. Dick, who apparently struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. This book will definitely provide a glimpse into that abyss.

34 people found this helpful

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  • Scott A.
  • 2019-12-10

Odd, slow, strange.

The story is strange at best. Set in an alternate universe/time it is very hard to follow mostly because it draaaaaags. Add in Paul Giamattis attempt to act the book to life and it just is difficult to listen to. He does a great job with what he has but the story was dead in the water and made me want it to just be over.

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  • Sarah
  • 2019-07-08

Hard to Rate

This book is hard to rate for a few different reasons. The narrator does a great job and I enjoyed istening to him. Most of the characters had there own voice but not an over the top one. The story for me became very hard to follow but the author may have written it that way purposely. All and all it was worth listening to once but I don't plan on ever listening to this title again.

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  • jesse
  • 2019-06-01

very good book.

Great book, Paul Giamatti does an excellent read. very very good listen. The way the story slowly drips down into the end result is rarely done better. dialogue is very well written also.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kyle
  • 2012-01-16

A long, drugged out rant

I have heard that PKD didn't spend a lot of time editing his work. If he had, he would have removed the nonsensical ranting about nothing that makes up the first half of the book. The second half is interesting, and the narrator is decent, but your credit is better spent elsewhere.

16 people found this helpful