Sci-Fi Month Review of We Can Build You by Philip K Dick. Two books mashed together

We Can Build YouWe Can Build You by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Louis Rosen and his partners sell people–ingeniously designed, historically authentic simulacra of personages such as Edwin M. Stanton and Abraham Lincoln. The problem is that the only prospective buyer is a rapacious billionaire whose plans for the simulacra could land Louis in jail. Then there’s the added complication that someone–or something–like Abraham Lincoln may not want to be sold.

Is an electronic Lincoln any less alive than his creators? Is a machine that cares and suffers inferior to the woman Louis loves–a borderline psychopath who does neither? With irresistible momentum, intelligence, and wit, Philip K. Dick creates an arresting techno-thriller that suggests a marriage of Bladerunner and Barbarians at the Gate.

Philip K Dick pretty much produces a schizophrenic book about schizophrenia, pretty much two very different books mashed together. Not that it doesn’t work. In one part its quite a straight forward an interesting scifi about robots and artificial intelligence, with some business negotiations and politics thrown in alongside a few interesting characters including robotic versions of the Civil war politicians , then it morphs into a book about a descent into madness brought about by the rest of the book. One character , Pris is known to have mental issues from the start but it is the descent of Louis Rosen that makes up the last section.
The book is a strange one but the weird mix still works by and large.

In saying that I’d love to have seen more of the robot development and seen where the idea could have gone, it does feel like that side was completely cut off once the madness kicks in. Little bits of cheeky fun like a robot John Wilkes Booth turning up to scare Lincoln go down well and I’d have liked to see more.Still a good read

View all my reviews


About Paul Walsh

I'm a big fan of fantasy and scifi, which would make up most of my reading but will branch out often enough. Favourite authors vary over time but generally include Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Conn Iggulden, Robert Harris, Karen Maitlan, Kate Mosse, Anne Rice, Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury. John Scalzi, Mark Lawrence, Pat Rothfuss and a host of others. I'm not the harshest reviewer but will note down a few words on all books I read.
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