Philip K. Dick has become well known for his books and short stories that have been turned into sci-fi movie blockbusters such as Minority Report, Total Recall, and maybe most famously Blade Runner. However this novel with its intragalactic war, time travel, and aliens will probably never be turned into a huge moneymaking movie. It’s because despite all the outward plot devices that seem ripe for action movie plunder, this book is about an internal war – a war about the depths of love and what is required of that love. PKD takes the reader to a place they may not want to go in a pulp SF novel, but for those who cross through time, you need to get there.
The book follows the story of Dr. Eric Sweetscent – a organ transplant specialist that is hired to keep the very rich alive. His wife is an antiquities merchant with a specialization in the mid 1900’s. She loathes him and he is tired of her, but the lasting afterimage of their love for each other keeps them tenuously bound together. They live during a war between two developed interstellar species the Starmen who are allied with Earth and the insect-like Reegs. Eric is drawn into the thick of the political intrigue behind the war when he is assigned to keep the leader of Earth alive.
While Eric is gone, his wife experiments with a new drug JJ-180 that has the side effect of sending the user through time. Unfortunately it is lethal and completely addictive. Eventually most of the main characters are using the drug to try to find something in the past or the present to help them overcome their situations – whether it’s winning the war, becoming wealthy, or healing relationships. PKD drives the story with action and quick pace while jumping in and out of time. The battlefield is always shifting, but can Eric find a reality that is the one he wants?
Was there a golden time in your past? Do you think the future must be better? If you could have everything just as you want, would it really make your life better. Phillip K. Dick wrestles with what it means to be happy and what the nature of true relationships are. Unlike any book that I have read – with outlandish backdrops and political intrigue – Now Wait For Last Year sticks the point to the reader: do you need everything perfect to determine your happiness. Life will never be perfect. Enjoy what you have and forget about the what-might-have-beens or the what-could-bes. Find the way to make this life enjoyable.
Again, this may be more than you’re looking for in a science fiction novel. There’s many things going on in this book that make it very entertaining reading, but you’re going to be left with a question in your heart about your enjoyment of life. Make the answer “Yes.”
6.5 stars out of 10