Horselover Fat is insane. He has been driven to this condition because he is unable to deal with his friends, his world, and the beam of pink light that has zapped him right between the eyes.
"Valis" is the first in a loosely related trilogy of books (with "The Transfiguration of Jeremy Arthur", and "The Divine Invasion"), and it deals with the ramifications of the "Pink Beam" that imparts fragments of information and secrets of the universe to the main character. The novel chronicles his attempts to deal with these revelations as his personal life unravels under the pressures placed on him by his friends, acquaintance, and his own self-destructive personality.
The book is one of Dick's strongest, and his usual themes involving the underlying fragility of reality are dealt with in a more direct manner than usual. Fat attempts to come to terms with some of the underlying ethical problems of the universe, and to bring together far reaching philosophic themes of mythology and Christianity into a cohesive system of thought.
"Valis" is a book of powerful ideas set against a tapestry of human frailty. For a book that attempts so much, it is a considerable success.
Philip K. Dick
graphic from Semiotext(e) Magazine
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The first half of Horselover Fat's story is deeply autobiographical, detailing many events that happened to Dick himself, including the incident with the "Pink Beam".
The book "Radio Free Albemuth" is actually the original version of VALIS, but was shelved by Dick in favor of Valis. Although substantially different in plot it examines many of the same themes, although in a far less personal manner. It was published posthumously.