So just read this, and really don't understand the point of the Pat Conley character in Ubik. So Pat was infiltrating Runciter's company... for what purpose exactly? She's literally the most powerful character in the book in that she can change the past. But Ray Hollis just sacrifices her on Luna? As far as I can see... if she hadn't been in the book everything would have happened pretty much the same. They go to Luna and die. That would have happened if she wasn't on the mission. Why would Ashwood and Hollis just sacrifice someone with her power for absolutely no reason?

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    I’ve read a lot of Phillip K. Dick. Actually, I think I’ve read all of it. If you want the plot to be consistent and make sense, you might want to try a totally different author. Nov 4, 2022 at 3:56
  • @ToddWilcox, yeah... I think if all his novels are like this I'll skip them. More I think about Ubik, more frustrated I feel... in fact what was the point of all the psi vs anti-psi stuff... it could have been two rival software companies instead and wouldn't have made any difference. Nov 4, 2022 at 13:13
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    Ubik is on the weirder end of PKD. I think Do Androids… and A Scanner Darkly might be his most accessible novels. That said, if you don’t like feeling disoriented and confused when you’re reading, you might want to only read his most popular short stories, like "Paycheck" and "Minority Report". His novels are more often bordering on surreal. There are some definitely surreal short stories too, like “Cadbury, The Beaver Who Lacked” and “The Short Happy Life of the Little Brown Oxford". Nov 4, 2022 at 13:22
  • To some extent, I guess, she's a red herring, or false antagonist. All this earlier part of story is just a setup to the second, (un)real one. See, it seems like you'd think it's some criminal story - it is not. This is a philosophical novel.
    – Mithoron
    Nov 5, 2022 at 15:43

1 Answer 1


I just finished this book and was thinking the same thing! Here's my take: One of the themes in Ubik are opposite forces interacting with one another, making each other stronger/weaker. Psi are countered by anti-psis. Jory is countered by Ella. The past tugging against the future.

I think Pat Conley's power to change past events gives Joe Chip the power to change Ubik to it's future form. When Pat Conley explains her power early in the book and tells the story about the broken statue, it's very similar to the mental labor Joe Chip does to turn the old Ubik to 1992 Ubik. Some excerpts:

Pat Conley:

I spent a month trying to will the d*mn statue back into one piece; in my mind I kept going back to before it broke, imagining what it had looked like.

Joe Chip:

He concentrated on the blue jar of liver and kidney balm. Evolve forward, he said to it, flooding it with his need; he poured whatever energy he had left onto the container...

Both characters are quite the opposite of each other - Pat Conley is uniquely powerful, beautiful, has money, while Joe Chip is ordinary, has no powers, can't find a nickel to open his own door. So, her powers attract something out of Joe, some new power.

Her involvement during the Luna event could be as simple as, she was a mole, but Hollis decided to kill her knowing how potentially powerful she was. I think her role in the story has much more to do with her connection to Joe than her connection to Hollis/Luna event.

PKD is genius, symphonic even.

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