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VALIS is a 1981 science fiction book by Philip K. Dick. The title is an acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System, Dick's gnostic vision of one aspect of God. VALIS is the first book in a trilogy that represents Dick's last major work before he died.


Plot summary

Horselover Fat

The main character in VALIS is Dick himself. He calls himself Horselover Fat, which is a translation of his name. `Horselover` is English for the Greek word `fil-hippos`, lover/friend of horses (like `filosofy`, friend of knowledge), and `fat`, being English for the German word `dick`.

However, even though the book is written in first person, for most of the book he treats Horselover Fat as a separate person, describing conversations and even arguments with him, and criticizing his opinions and writings; this can all be viewed by the reader as a form of mental illness. Near the end of the book the messianic figure cures him (temporarily), and he describes his surprise that Horselover Fat has suddenly disappeared from his side.


Horselover Fat wrote his exegesis: Criptica Scriptura, explaning his view on the world in a not so few, not so simple rules. The UK edition of VALIS also included Cosmology and Cosmogony, a chapbook containing selections from Dick's Exegesis.

Rhipidon Society

Dick's friends (and fellow science fiction writers) K.W. Jeter (Kevin) and Tim Powers (David) appear as thinly disguised characters in the novel, and along with Dick, as members of the "Rhipidon Society", with the motto, "Fish Cannot Carry Guns!" It is also said that James P. Blaylock appears in the book.

Main characters

  • Phil Dick: narrator
  • Horselover Fat: narrator, science fiction writer
  • Gloria Knudson: suicidal friend of Fat's
  • Kevin: friend of Fat's, skeptic
  • Sherri Solvig: Fat's friend, dying from lymphatic cancer
  • David: catholic friend of Fat's
  • Zebra: pure energy, discorporate, the Logos, living information, the "plasmate", "God"; communicates with Fat
  • VALIS: title of an American science fiction film, appears as a satelite, controls reality, synonymous with Zebra (see The Man Who Fell To Earth)
  • Eric Lampton: rock star, screenwriter, actor, aka "Mother Goose"
  • Linda Lampton: actress
  • Brent Mini: electronic composer

Other works

VALIS is a part of the VALIS trilogy of novels:

See also

External links


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