The Pequod Review:
Published in 1977, Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly is set in a futuristic version of Orange County. The book centers on Bob/Fred Arctor, who is both a drug-using member of a hippie community (under the name Bob) as well as an undercover narcotics officer (as Fred). Arctor’s dual roles seem to be a metaphor for his dual consciousnesses, and his restless and unsettled existence culminates in a mental breakdown of sorts. The story drags at times, but it has an intense atmosphere of paranoia, psychosis, and distorted perception. VALIS (1974) explored similar themes, but A Scanner Darkly has a richer and more successful narrative. This is one of Dick’s best late career novels.