A Scanner Darkly, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


A brilliant sci-fi novel from one of the last century's most influential pop culture figuresSubstance D - otherwise known as Death - is the most dangerous drug ever to find its way on to the black market.

It destroys the links between the brain's two hemispheres, leading first to disorentation and then to complete and irreversible brain damage.

Bob Arctor, undercover narcotics agent, is trying to find a lead to the source of supply, but to pass as an addict he must become a user, and soon, without knowing what is happening to him, he is as dependent as any of the addicts he is monitoring.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9781857988475

Other Formats



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by

Very confusing since the protagonist is unreliable. Movie doesn't do this novel justice.

Review by

Sadness. That's the first word that comes to me when I think about this novel. There is a rich vein of sadness and regret that runs through Dick's work here; there's less of the sci-fi that one usually expects, and a greater focus on the destructive effects of drugs - both on a personal and a social level.

Review by

For some reason it took me an age to read this book, all of the other PKD novels that I've read, I've sped through as they are never large volumes.Nevertheless I still really enjoyed it, it's much more serious than his 1960's output, and it is very obvious that he and people close to him have been affected by the free flowing drugs of the time.It's also a lot less concerned with the sci-fi elements of his earlier work, the only real concession being the scramble suits used to hide the identity of the narcotics agents.I wouldn't recommend it to anyone disturbed by stories of addiction, but then you probably don't need to read it to know the effects.

Review by

A dark little novel. I always tend to find Philip K. Dick's novels either uplifting or somewhat depressing and this is one of the later, all the moreso since he drew on his own life for this depiction of the effects of drug use. Some parts are quiet harrowing, though thankfully the story is not unremittingly bleak throughout. It follows 'Fred', an undercover Nacotics police officer who even has to hide his identity from his superiors due to corruption in the police department. Fred is also Bob Arctor, a drug user who hangs around with other user friends. However in purchasing large quantities of drugs in an attempt to discover their source, Bob Arctor draws the notice of the police, which results in Fred being assigned to spy on himself. At the same time his drug use is beginning to take a toll on his mind and someone seems to be out to kill him.... This novel is by turns disturbing, darkly humorous, bleak, warm and intense.

Review by

An interesting and thought provoking book.Very believable descriptions of drug-induced paranoia and psychosis. The main character's slow destruction by substance D makes for compulsive reading.

  Previous  |  Next

Also in the S.F. Masterworks series   |  View all