anyhoo, i finally made my way 'round to Crack in Space / and noted that Lawrence Sutin gave it a "2" on a scale of 10 (Simulacra was given a 7). am i alone in considering this a very solid novel? i'd rate it above Penultimate Truth, Dr Futurity, Man Who Japed, Cosmic Puppets, Ganymede Takeover and Frolix 8 / ... just a conservative estimate - and i know that's not much in th'grand Phildickian scheme of things - but i think it rates an easy SIX.
first, it's a fine an' excellent book for fans - or, better yet, disfans - of the American Electoral Process (think of some of the cynical cinema classics from the 70's). Candidate Jim Briskin is even concerned (see Barack Obama prior to South Carolina) that he won't come off as "black enough," that he'll be seen by non.whites as a pawn of the white establishment. and he's King Rational, ever the cool customer, Spock to Sen. McCain's "Bones" McCoy.
Sutin puts the writing of it in '63 and '64. issues of abortion and overpopulation are taken up (Delany insists that PKD's default worldview is consistently "polite middle-class liberal," but perhaps that was his touchstone of normalcy amid all the well-documented Turbulence...). under the umbrella of Personal Obsession, i was pleased that one of Phil's characters, a private dick name of Cravelli, is enjoying the music of Harry Partch (presaging, perhaps, his 70's interest in tape recorder-as-instrument pioneer Brian Eno). the instruments Partch invented are featured prominently on the decade-plus old lp Weird Nightmare: Meditations on Mingus.
just as i thought UBIK casts a sort of slant shadow over/across Gravity's Rainbow, there's more than a trace of PKD's novel depictions of the Tragedies of Time in Against the Day (not that a Pynchon connexion makes Dick more "respectable" / g-d no / it, rather, points to the fact that Pynchon wasn't afflicted with the sort of ... genre prejudice that's rampant among Anglo-American reviewers ("late modernist middlebrows," largely, in the words of Victoria Nelson...).
in short, a novel well-worth reading. it works, after its own fashion, along lines established in both Lies, Inc. and Vulcan's Hammer, but i found it a more rewarding, multidimensional production throughout.