Clans of the Alphane Moon

Clans of the Alphane Moon
By Philip K. Dick

Even if you didn’t know anything about Philip K. Dick’s rocky marital history you’d probably guess that there was some biographical basis for Chuck and Mary Rittersdorf’s near-fatal squabbling in this book. Domestic turbulence can be an inspiration for some artists, but it can also lead to a low kind of score-settling.

I think that’s part of where Clans of the Alphane Moon goes wrong. The novel takes an idea Dick had worked up in a story called “Shell Game” a decade earlier and makes it a whole lot less interesting by superimposing a chaotic spy story over the germ of a tale of psychological misfits who have formed their own little Pitcairn on Alpha III M2. As Chuck struggles to understand the logic of what’s happening on the Alphane moon, and concludes that there is none, it’s hard not to feel that this is a story that just got away from Dick. It probably reflects on the chaos of his own life at the time, which is something that, in this case, really didn’t help.

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