Summary by Jason Koornick: A Scanner Darkly (1977)


A Scanner Darkly is the dark and disturbing story of Bob Arctor, a narc who is so far gone that he can’t distinguish between his job and his junkie lifestyle. This tragic novel follows Arctor and his alter-ego, Fred (the narc) through a serious of events that delve deep into the mind of the paranoid drug addict. Arctor can’t tell if his friends are there to help him or kill him. Maybe they’re narcs trying to set up Bob. Full of delusions, schizophrenia and hallucinations, A Scanner Darkly sheds light on the dark side of humanity by showing the twisted and psychedelic deterioration of a man whose brain can’t even recognize himself. Read this book to experience Dick’s grim and partly autobiographical account of the drug culture of his time.

Listen to Phil reading an excerpt from A Scanner Darkly (3:38 min.).
(Real Audio – Requires Real Player G2, free download at

To read some excellent literary criticism by Frank Bertrand of A Scanner Darkly, check out these pages:

Encounters with Reality: P.K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly

Kant’s “Noumenal Self” and Doppelganger in P.K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly

Digressions on Allusions in P.K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly

The Use of Setting in P.K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly

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