Plowman’s Planet is in a state of war. The indigenous vulture-like werjes, the trobes and the father-things (that duplicate people) are driven by the evil Glimmung to rage against the Grand Four. They consist of the spiddles, nunks, the printers and human colonists. Then there are the greedy and rather stupid wubs who will assist anyone who pays them, and the horned flukes who hate everyone.
On Earth, it has been illegal to own pets since 1992 because of the density of the global population and the resulting scarcity of food. Nick owns a pet cat called Horace, who is hard to keep a secret for long. When the authorities find out, Nick’s parents have to decide whether to give Horace to the anti-pet man or take the more drastic action of relocating to Plowman’s Planet where pets are allowed and there are acres of space for everyone - if they survive!
Nick’s dad, driven by a need to get away from Earth where work is no longer a challenge or even of much use to society, decides on the more drastic option. As soon as they land on the planet, a wub offers to take them to their new property but in the process gets them lost and then deserts them when some werjes turn up.
The werjes give Nick a book that is supposed to be a short history of the war to counter the propaganda of the Grand Four. By mistake they give him a book called ‘One Summer Day’ that is a study of all of Glimmung’s enemies and predicts future events. The book is the key to fighting Glimmung who is gradually insinuating his power throughout the planet, and Nick is the only one who can stop him.
As can be expected from Philip K. Dick, there is a good mixture of humour and gruesome situations in his only book written for children. Each alien species is given its own idiosyncratic form of speech and behaviour, and even Horace the cat is given a strong characterisation.
Nick is the central character and his parents are cast in the background. It is certainly a story that is odd and entertaining enough for a child (or adult) to identify with Nick, and shows that it needs a child’s mind to deal with new worlds where ‘old’ expectations and ideas don’t work.
Dick wrote the novel in the late 1960s, but it was rejected by his publisher. In 1988 it went into print after it was rediscovered in his files, six years after his death. With this new edition it has become available again for a new generation to embrace and enjoy Dick’s science fiction universe.
NICK AND THE GLIMMUNG / AUTHOR: PHILIP K. DICK / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW