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Radio Free Albemuth (2010) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Berkeley record store clerk Nick Brady (Jonathan Scarfe) begins to experience strange visions from an entity he calls VALIS that cause him to uproot his family and move to Los Angeles where he becomes a successful music company executive. With the help of best friend, science fiction writer Philip K. Dick himself (Shea Whigam) and a mysterious woman named Silvia (Alanis Morissette), Nick finds himself drawn into a dangerous political-mystical conspiracy of cosmic proportions. The story is set in an alternate reality America circa 1985 under the authoritarian control of President Fremont, a Nixon-like clone (Scott Wilson).


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Synopsis

  • In this alternate history the corrupt US President Ferris F Fremont (FFF for 666, Number of the Beast) becomes chief executive in sixties. The character is best described as an amalgam of Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon, who abrogates civil liberties and human rights through positing a conspiracy theory centred around a fictitious subversive organisation known as "Aramchek". In addition to this, he is associated with a right-wing populist movement called "Friends of the American People" (Fappers).

    Ironically enough, the President's paranoia and opportunism lead to the establishment of a real resistance movement to him, which is organised, through eponymous radio broadcasts from a mysterious alien satellite, by a superintelligent, extraterrestrial, omnipotent being (or network) named VALIS.

    As with its "successor", VALIS, this novel is autobiographical. Dick himself is a major character, though fictitious protagonist Nicholas Brady serves as a vehicle for Dick's alleged gnostic theophany on February 11, 1974. In addition, Sadassa Silvia is a character who claims that Ferris Fremount is actually a communist covert agent, and that her mother recruited him for the Soviet Union after she joins the resistance.

    As with Valis, the book deals with his highly-personal style of Christianity (or Gnosticism), as well as with the moral repercussions of being an informer for the authorities, and his dislike of the Republican Party, satirizing Nixon's America as a Stalinist or neo-fascist police state. Eventually, Fremount captures and imprisons Dick and Brady after the latter produces and distributes a record that urges subliminal messages of revolt to the Fremount dictatorship. Brady and Silvia are executed, and Dick narrates the concluding pasage about his life in a concentration camp, where "his" latest work is penned by a ghost writer and regime-approved hack. Suddenly, he hears other music, with another subliminal message. As Dick hears children singing the tune, he realises that all may not be lost after all.

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