For the first twenty-seven days of this project, I didn’t mention Philip K. Dick. Now I’ve mentioned him twice in three days. He is not my favorite author nor even my favorite science fiction author, but he comes close. Besides which, Galactic Pot-Healer is the perfect entry in this category. Dick is very much a cult author. Even among cult members, this novel is not terribly popular, and even the author himself wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. But I love it.
Members of my generation often say “that’s crazy” or “that was random” when reacting to some bit of nonsense. Galactic Pot-Healer is certainly crazy and random, more so than even the author’s other science fiction novels. However, craziness and randomness aren’t good things in themselves. Anyone can throw together a lot of nonsense, but it takes a supreme talent to achieve the uplifting, forward-charging type of nonsense that we might call zaniness, the nonsense that is actually fun and entertaining and then makes you think when you’re least prepared for it.
The book is about Joe Fernwright, a mender of broken ceramics. (Or pot-healer, if you will.) Joe lives in the United States after it falls under communist rule, when unemployment is high, work is scarce, and the government pumps propagandist dreams into people’s heads while they sleep. One day he gets a message in his toilet. The Glimmung needs his help to raise a cathedral from the depths of the ocean on Plowman’s Planet. What is a Glimmung? Well, it is certainly not a giant, one-eyed squid like the one on the cover above. I’ve no idea where they got that image from. A Glimmung is more like an ocean, or little girl, or a couple of concentric hoops. That sort of thing. There’s lots more that takes place in this book, though I’m not quite sure what, exactly.