No one ever talks about the moral redemption in Philip K. Dick novels. (There are too many other interesting things going on in them.) It's ironic that one of Dick's largest supporters is Jonathan Lethem, who helped Dick executor Paul Williams raise the science fiction writer's profile in the '80s and recently acted as a kind of guest curator for Dick's Library of America volumes. (Would PKD have been chosen for the series if not for Lethem's imprimatur? It can't have hurt.) Lethem's early sci fi-ish novels weren't big on moral redemption, either. But he ascended to the upper literary strata, in a position to put his damaged idol over the top, by demonstrating to earnest book reviewers that he, Lethem, could write about growth and such. A couple of sound bites from the NY Times regarding his newest, Chronic City:
By JONATHAN LETHEM
Reviewed by GREGORY COWLES
Headline writer: "This exuberant novel set in a drug-addled, alternate-reality Manhattan is at its heart a traditional story of moral and intellectual development."
Cowles: "Chronic City is a dancing showgirl of a novel, yet beneath the gaudy makeup it’s also the girl next door: a traditional bildungsroman with a strong moral compass. Under Perkus’s tutelage, Chase moves from placid compliance toward engagement and self-determination; the actor learns to take action, not just direction."
Have been reading this Wikipedia summary of Dr Bloodmoney and wondering how it could ever be a great book or a Hollywood movie without the obvious moral education of one or more characters. Dr. Bloodmoney turned over a new leaf after he poisoned the world with radiation but then was killed by Hoppy Harrington the waldo-assisted mutant. Bill, the fetal conjoined twin who then defeats Hoppy became, one supposes, a whole person as a result of his experiences.