I see a general topic for short stories, but not for novels. If I am mistaken, please combine. I read a lot of Dick, and write a lot of reviews for his stuff. Here is the latest. The Cosmic Puppets - Philip K. Dick The Cosmic Puppets is one of the most straightforward, purely entertaining books I've yet to read by Philip K. Dick. It is super short, to the point, and zips along like a bat out of hell. While reading it, I was constantly reminded of Stephen King (oh, if only King could write shorter novels!), H.P. Lovecraft, The Twilight Zone, Tales From the Dark Side, and other “Astonishing Tales.” This is an example of driving plot, and exists only to convey an engaging read. Even though the premise is purely Dickian, The Cosmic Puppets has more in common with strange horror than it does science fiction. It tells the story of a small town's unwilling participation in the timeless struggle between the very forces of Good and Evil. While on vacation with his wife, Ted Barton finds himself compelled to visit the town of his birth, Millgate, Virginia. Nestled in a secluded valley, Millgate is a town stuck in time, a living anachronism, rarely visited, hardly noticed. But in typical Dick fashion, things are never as simple as they seem. Barton reluctantly discovers that too much has changed since his exodus nearly eighteen-year ago. For one, nothing is how he remembers it: the streets all have different names, the stores have all been changed, and no one seems to be the wiser. Secondly, Barton discovers that he actually died as a young child! From here, things just get more and more strange. Soon, Ted finds himself caught in the middle of a struggle between two giant gods (think Lovecraft's Elders), Ahriman, the Lord of Evil and Chaos, and Ormazd, the Lord of Order and Truth (both of these gods feature prominently in Zoroastrianism). While the two gods fight for control in the hyperspace around the Earth, in Millgate a smaller battle is being waged. The spiritual war has cast a field of distortion around the town, and has changed things considerably; it has caused a strange juxtaposition between the real world and another, alien one. Leading the forces in Millgate is Peter, an evil little boy, and Mary, a benevolent little girl. Peter is able to control an army of tiny clay golems, spiders and snakes to do his bidding, while Mary uses bees, moths, and the Wanderers, apparitions from the real pre-changed world who have partially crossed over. As the tension escalates and the battle becomes more ferocious, the two sides clash in melee of magic and fisticuffs. While the narrative does deal with themes common to Dick, those of identity, reality, and spirituality, the execution of the themes is all together different and lighter. It reminds me of a Dick story translated into an alien language and filtered through the mind of a more horror-orientated author before being committed to the page. That is, it's familiar and I recognize Dick's touch, but it is also strangely alien. It is a slight work, more fluffy than I am used to from good old Phil. It doesn't dive into the cracked psyches of its characters, or examine their depression in light of the absurd situations surrounding them, but, instead, it is far more heroic in nature. Although The Cosmic Puppets is not on the same level as Dick's great novels, far from it really, I can't help but be compelled to recommend it. It's just too much fun. I tore through it in a matter of hours, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It is a very cinematic book, and if you enjoy envisioning great genre fiction in your mind, The Cosmic Puppets makes for an amazing “theatrical” experience. Just don't expect any of Dick's more subtle explorations of humanity, and don't think that the book represents the author as a whole. As far as a diversion into the realms of pure entertainment goes, it doesn't get much better. It is simple, concise, and heck of a lot of fun.