The following is from a work-in-progress entitled Philip K. Dick in Orange County, in which I read each of the novels that acclaimed sci-fi author Philip K. Dick wrote while living in Orange County, and write book reports about them. This is part of a larger project that will become an art exhibit/zine release in May 2015 at Hibbleton Gallery.
The Divine Invasion, the middle novel in Philip K. Dick’s VALIS trilogy, is set in the future, maybe a century or so after the events of VALIS. The novel beings on a distant planet, a human colony in the CY30-CY30B star system. Herb Asher, a main character, lives and works alone in a dome on this mostly inhospitable planet. He is like a cell phone tower operator, transmitting information across the galaxy. It is suggested that the reason he is living in this outpost is because there was a war on Earth and he chose this exile over being drafted.
Herb’s exile is made bearable by the fact that he gets to transmit and listen to non-stop music, especially his favorite pop superstar, Linda Fox (aka The Fox). The action of the novel begins when Herb starts getting disruptions in his transmissions, and learns that another being is living in exile on the mountain where his dome rests…Yahweh (aka God).
When the Roman empire defeated the last of the Jewish rebels in the Siege of Masada in 74 C.E., Yahweh was driven from his mountain home in Israel to this distant planet in the CY30-CY30B star system, Fomalhaut (aka Alebemuth). Ever since 74 C.E., God has not ruled the Earth. Instead, the ancient Adversary, Belial (aka Satan) has ruled. The inhabitants of Earth are mostly unaware of this. In Herb’s day, the most powerful entities on Earth are the Christian-Islamic Church and the Scientific Legate (both corrupt institutions). Most humans believe they are followers of God, but in fact they are living under the domain of Belial. This situation, that the earth is under the dominion of an invisible “evil empire” (which may in fact be a hologram) is a main theme in the VALIS trilogy.
|The Fortress of Masada in Israel.|
Meanwhile, back on his distant alien planet, Yahweh is hatching a plan to re-take the earth and free it from its oppression. Like the biblical story of the Exodus, Yahweh appears to his servant Herb in the form of a fire and a voice. Instead of a burning bush, Herb’s electronic instruments burst into flame, and God tells Herb that he will be an instrument of liberation. Herb is told to visit the nearby dome of a dying woman named Rhybys, who (it turns out) is miraculously pregnant (though she is a virgin). The plan is for Herb, Ryhbys, and their friend Elias (aka the prophet Elijah) to smuggle this special child to Earth. The child’s name is Emmanuel.
Thus, the action of the novel begins, a cosmic struggle for the salvation of the Earth and (as it turns out) the entire universe. The novel blends science, religion, philosophy, and mythology to create a story that is both ancient and futuristic, cosmic and personal. Who will win the epic battle? Will Emmanuel succeed in saving the world from the clutches of Belial and his evil empire? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Stay tuned for my report on the final novel in the VALIS trilogy (and PKD’s final novel ever), The Transmigration of Timothy Archer!