The Zap Gun (1967)

This is the first edition of Philip K. Dick’s The Zap Gun (1967), from Pyramid Books. That’s a Jack Gaughan cover. I kind of love how his work almost never seems to entirely mesh with the novel he’s fronting. All these jesters running around.

Anyway, The Zap Gun. I don’t really know how to summarize it. The cold war has given way into this weird agreement where the US and the Soviets pretend to keep making weapons, but they actually don’t work. Culture has turned them into fashion items, though, so there is a big market for new ones, which are designed by comic book artists. The main character is one of these, and is depressed because none of his weapons work. All of this becomes a problem when aliens invade and humanity lacks functioning weaponry to use in their defense. As ever for Dick, it is a swirling, trippy sort of novel and is in the era of my favorite of Dick’s more conventional SF novels, Ubik, Maze of Death and Galactic Pot-Healer. If you can ever call Dick conventional.

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