The Penultimate Truth, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (4 ratings)


A masterly tale of political deception from the most significant writer of SF in the 20th centuryWorld War III is raging - or so the millions of people crammed in their underground tanks believe.

For fiteen years, subterranean humanity has been fed on daily broadcasts of a never-ending nuclear destruction, sustained by a belief in the all powerful Protector.

Now someone has gone to the surface and found no destruction, no war.

The authorities have been telling a massive lie. Now the search begins to find out why.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Science fiction
  • ISBN: 9780575074811

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Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.

Review by

Another classic from PKD, this time with the premise that humans have been living underground during WW3 (which has lasted 15 years now), then one of them goes to the surface to find out that the war’s actually been over for 13 years. A fun exploration on the use of propaganda and time travel.

Review by

Interesting read, but not one of his best. I particularly liked the exploration of how TV can control peoples lives.

Review by

Philip K. Dick is one of my favorite authors. And yet, so often, after reading one of his books, I'm really not sure where I've been and where I wound up. This novel has some of that about it, but, like so much of Dick's work, is full of ideas that cause you to pause in wonder. And the final extinguishment of the plot is nowhere near as important as the road traveled to get there.It is after the war, and most people are being kept underground for their own protection. Well, not really. Actually, the world didn't get destroyed and a lot of people are living a very nice life above ground. Even those who find out the truth lead lives that, while not that great, are better than the ones they had. As so often happens with Dick, nothing is as it seems (even the benevolent overlord is a robot).Two ensuing struggles result. The first as a below ground dweller learns the truth and struggles to get back to let everyone know (and to revive an individual who was an integral part of the society.) The second is the battle between those who are slowly taking over radiated lands to build their own private palaces. Of course they intertwine. And, of course, because this is a Dick novel, the results are not what we expect.One of the more interesting constructs in the novel is the way a faked documentary works as an important turning point in the progress of the plot. On one level, we learn how this faked documentary – a piece of film that is almost sacrosanct to most people – helped drive people's belief about the war. On another level, the flaws within it are so obvious that one group of protagonists use the flaws to help drive the plot of the novel even deeper.Two things really drive Dick's fiction – ideas and paranoia. This has both in the appropriate measure. And, as such, it stands well against much of his other work

Review by

My first PKD Book, and it was a good one. In some ways, dated, in other ways, very relevant in today's digital world where most information is dispensed through digital means.In this book we find the president of an ANT Farm (Those tubes that people crammed into at the beginning of WW3)being pushed to fing an artificial pancreas for their mechanic. The story also follows Joseph Adams, a public relations Yance-Man whose job it is to write Speeches for President Yancy. This is all fine and good, except World War III ended 10 years before, and nobody told the people in the ANT farms. At the front, it seems the story is quite simple. We have a man with an ethical issue. It seems straight out a small man, Big Government sort of story. But, its much more than that, with a nod at environmentalism, the will of the masses, and the role of media in how the world is perceived.

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