A Scanner Darkly Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Scanner Darkly

"Fred" is an undercover narcotics agent for the Orange County Sheriff's Office. As "Bob Arctor," he lives in a messy pad with a bunch of other druggies and buys Substance D (known on the street as "death") in quantities from his sometime girlfriend Donna. The authorities set up cameras and microphones on the premises so that "Fred" can conduct 24-hour surveillance on himself and his housemates. But Substance D steadily separates the two halves of his brain until his personality splits almost completely as he tries to figure out which of his roommates has been sabotaging his car and other equipment. As Dick has explained, this novel -- first published in 1977 and set in 1994 -- is an exploration of drug misuse and a tribute to friends who got lost along the way, but of course it touches on his favorite themes of the nature of identity and reality.
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The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

A Scanner Darkly is a psychological drug thriller. Substance D is a highly addictive drug that slowly splits the human brain into two seperate idenities. When Fred, an undercover police agent is hooked on the drug, his alter-ego/cover story, Bob Arctor becomes a seemingly seperate character, and Fred is assigned to keep surveillance on himself.
The review of this Book prepared by Trent Dick

Chapter Analysis of A Scanner Darkly

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 40%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 30%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 10% Tone of book    -   depressing/sad FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Spying & Investigations    -   Yes What is main char. doing?    -   spying/espionage in enemy territorry    -   unraveling a conspiracy Inner Struggle    -   Yes Plotlet:    -   fighting a personal illness/handicap    -   search for identity/new understanding    -   mental illness/nutsophrenia Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book If enemy is a group...    -   drug dealers

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   police/lawman Age:    -   20's-30's Really unusual traits?    -   Mentally ill or deluded


Earth setting:    -   20th century Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   moderately detailed references to deaths scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   some scientific explanation    -   a moderate amount of scientific explanation Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only How much dialogue?    -   mostly dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Philip K. Dick Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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