Review: Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)

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Clans of the Alphane Moon issue of
For Dickheads Only

Summary and Review by Jason Koornick Reviews

Links from reader comments:

Book reviews: Clans of the Alphane Moon, by Philip K. Dick
by Kenneth Andrews

Clans of the Alphane Moon
by D. Davis

How could mergers improve innovativeness: Clans of the Alphane Moon
by Juha Antti Lamberg

Clans of the Alphane Moon entry in PKDweb

10 thoughts on “Review: Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)

  1. The earliest mention about Clans Of The Alphane Moon I can find in the extant Selected Letters is in a 9/17/70, wherein Philip K. Dick writes:

    “One night, after taking a great number of amphetamines, I sat up reading three novels of mine which I hadn’t read since the galleys: THE THREE STIGMATA OF PALMER ELDRITCH, CLANS OF THE ALPHANE MOON, and UBIK. Of the three, only UBIK struck me as having any worth. I genuinely enjoyed reading it. But STIGMATA merely puzzled me, especially the last scene & ending. CLANS had one good item: the robot-body programmed to attack Bunny Hentman’s rocket ship (along with everyone else intending to attack it but not doing so) — the robot attacking the ship all alone, and the people in the ship saying, puzzled, “Who’s out there attacking us?” Very funny, I thought… and then the horrible wonder came to me, saying, “But when I wrote it did I intend it to be funny?” I’ll assume I did.” [Selected Letters, Vol. 1, p. 294]

  2. In conjunction with what Philip K. Dick wrote in the 9/17/70 letter quoted above, in a 4/22/81 interview with Gregg Rickman, he states about Clans Of the Alphane Moon:

    “Well that was my interest in psychiatry. I was beginning to read a lot of books on psychiatry. I’d always been fascinated by abnormal mental states. It fits in with my interest in plural realities, like the Joan Reiss section of Eye In The Sky where a strange reality is perceived by the psychotic person. The psychotic is one whose experience of reality is radically different than ours. And this is something that fascinates me….[Clans of the Alphane Moon] was a labor of love. The story of survival value of various forms of psychosis. Did they have any utilitarian utility? It seemed to me in many ways they did. If not in our culture, in other cultures perhaps.” [Philip K. Dick: In His Own Words, 1984, pp. 163-164]

  3. Am I the only one who notes the comparison in the interview quote between “abnormal mental states” and “plural realities”??? Did PKD have the work of R.D. Laing in mind here???

    This is something that PKD actually wrote. And he definitely seems to be setting up a comparison between these two concepts.

  4. Curious that no one else in interested in pursuing a critical discussion about Clans of the Alphane Moon…So, I’ll discuss with myself. Here is part of Barry Malzberg’s critical discussion about Clans of the Alphane Moon, from his “afterword” to the Bluejay Special Edition of the novel:

    “…that slime mold oozed and cruised and bruised and lazed its way around the consciousness of all concerned because that simply was the way that things *were* and if Lord Running Clam was a metaphor, well that was something that the reader would have to figure out on his own because for Phil Dick, Lord Running Clam was a reality, an integral part of a plot which seemed so loose and sprawling that there seemed to be no order at all. But for Dick there was an obvious order; these plots made sense because they had an appalling reality which gave them absolute power… Metaphors come after the fact, Dick might have said, and are only in tranquility reflected” (Clans of the Alphane Moon, Bluejay Books, Inc., 1984, pp. 259-260).

  5. You are quite right, Mr. Bertrand to perceptively note the implied analogy between “abnormal mental states” and “plural realities” in Clans of the Alphane Moon, as well as, Malzberg’s astute assertion about Lord Running Clam being a metaphor. But, as we reflect in tranquility, a metaphor for what?? And, what plural reality does someone with an “abnormal” mental state exist in?? Has either writer given relevant supporting details for their critical reflections??

  6. Thank you, your eminence. But just how do Running Clams celebrate the
    holidays???!! Perhaps a special recipe clam juice punch bowl!!! Along the lines of a Harvey Wallbanger??

    More importantly, it’s vitally important that we reclaim works like Clans Of The Alphane Moon back from the slinking denizens of the dilapidated ivory towers. PKD deserves better than he’s been getting…

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