Summary by Jason Koornick: The Ganymede Takeover (1967)


While The Ganymede Takeover deals with many familiar themes it is not one of Dick’s most consistent works.. Written in collaboration with Ray Nelson, it is not one of Dick’s trademark novels although he frequently mentions the planet Ganymede in his sci-fi stories. With a premise that reminded me of Starship Troopers, this novel tells the story of a futuristic Earth occupied by alien worms (?!) from the planet Ganymede. The last holdout against the occupiers are a group of black revolutionaries from the “bale” of Tennessee. Following a few different characters including “neeg-part” leader Percy X and Gus Swensegard, power-hungry hotel manager the reader is treated to futuristic weaponry and high-tech psychological combat.

The mind becomes the ultimate weapon and weakness as the characters use psychological weaponry that sends the victims into eternal darkness and make them cease to exist. The Department of Psychedelic Research develops a theory of human non-existence called The Oblivion Theory and the Illusion Machine threatens to melt the collective mind of humanity. Dick continues to explore the connection between emotion and collective reality.

While there are some truly bizarre and twisted elements of The Ganymede Takeover, it doesn’t capture the genius of Philip K. Dick like some of his stronger novels. It creates a wide variety of situations that don’t necessarily fit together to tell a gripping story. There are many entertaining elements that in The Ganymede Takeover that could only have come from the mind of PKD such as the deep psychological probing into the minds of humans faced with hopeless futures and lacking emotional consistency. It is difficult to distinguish which parts of The Ganymede Takeover are Dick’s and which are co-author Ray Nelson’s. For the hardcore Dick fan.

Here is a incredible selection from The Ganymede Takeover. It is a an account of a battle fought with psychic mind-altering weapons. It is stepped in irony and psychedelic intensity. Percy X and his army are the heroes battling against the forces of Gus Swenesgard.

“Charge” shouted Robert E. Lee as he galloped into battle at the head of a troop of mounted Valkyrie. Their long blonde hair streamed in the wind as they screamed ancient runic oaths and trampled beneath the hooves of their ice cream white horse creech, white and Tom, without discrimination.

A squadron of vampires dripping blood from their fangs and wearing the insignia of Baron Manfred von Richthofen’s Flying Circus flapped by overhead, while Samson, hair and all, strode past, swinging the jawbone of a duckbill platypus.

Through the milling confusion rushed a battalion of Brownie Scouts, cracking skulls right and left with overbaked cookies while a kosher butcher, with his vorpal meat cleaver, reduced the enemy to meat knish. Redasses baboons charged in behind him, pushing supermarket carts armed with fifty caliber machine guns. A rock and roll group headed by a young long-hair trumpeter named Gabriel played the “jerk” while a team of trained surgeons removed one appendix after another, throwing in an occasional lobotomy to avoid monotony.

Four squealing transvestites in silk evening gowns swung, with deadly accuracy, blue sequines purses filled with cement, while cavemen and Pygmies hurled poisoned confetti.

A dayglow orange unicorn reared up with seven soldiers impaled on his horn like so many unpaid bills and a man-eating plant with an Oxford accent sucked dry on spinal column after another with a sound like a rude boy trying to suck up the last drop of a milkshake. Sadistic peacocks circulated among the wounded, tickling to death the unwary with their feathers. A pregnant ten-year-old teeny-bopper, smashed on acid, mercilessly beat all comers at chess, passing the time between moves by painting pictures of her favorite celebrities, Marshall Ky, Marshal Koli and Adolf Hitler, on her naked but flat chest, with purple lipstick.

Little nude lesbians no more than one inch high scampered over the faces of the enemy removing beards one hair at a time. The Wolfman chewed contentedly on a big toe, spitting out the toenail. A brave band of lawnmowers and growling laundromat machines executed brilliant flanking movement and attacked from the rear. Everywhere the air was filled with the ghastly sound of guttural shrieks, whoops, howls, oily laughter, gasps, grunts, lisps, drawls, yells, croaks, bellows whines, sensual moans, brays, yaps, meows, tweets, bleats, rorrs and maundering.

But at the moment when it appeared as if the ordinary forces of Gus Swenesgard would be wiped out to a man, the fantastic hordes of Percy X began to quarrel among themselves. Frankenstein attacked the Wolfman. Godzilla attacked King Kong. The Boy Scouts criminally assaulted the Girl Scouts.

The sabre-tooth tiger was blinded by the needles of shoe-making elves. A spikelet of Meadow Fescue (festuca elatior) was struck down by a cowardly blow from Bucky Bug, anthers, pistil, paleae, glue and all. Suddenly it became a free-for-all. Every apparition for himself.

In an instant Percy realized that if he remained in the midst of the nightmare battle just a moment too long, he and his men would fall victim to their own phantasmagoria. In fact at this very moment a carnivorous vacuum cleaner was attempting to break into the taxi in which he and Lincoln Shaw sat.

“Retreat!” Percy shouted into his mike. “Back to the mountains before it’s too late.”

At dawn, the battle field lay silent.

A mist hung over the scene, hiding the incredible carnage left behind by the night’s orgy of destruction. As the sun rose higher in the sky the mist began to evaporate, and with it the multitude of fantastic shapes and forms which the mist had hidden. Ghostly dead elephants and ruined tanks melted together, became translucent, then transparent, then faded away. Heaps of corpses, wearing the uniforms of every age and nation, blurred and shimmered and became one with the fog. Ionocrafts and creeches and Toms and Neeg-parts . . . they, too, faded and turned to a fog, the real and the unreal meeting and blending and then vanishing together.

By noon the mist and what the mist had hidden had both disappeared without a remnant, and in the shuddering mid-day heat nothing remained but weeds and the bent, upward-poking stalks of grass.

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