A Scanner Darkly is on of my favorite Philip K. Dick novels. It is futuristic but it is debatable whether or not it is science fiction. It is set in 1994, which at the time it was written was in the future. It still feels like it is set in the future but a future that is could be literally just around the corner. This is one of the things that is so disturbing about the book.

Another disturbing element is the questions of identity that are raised. Particularly the breakdown of reality for the protagonist Bob Arctor a.k.a. Fred. Bob is a drug user addicted to substance D, a highly addictive compound that causes a breakdown between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. While Fred is actually a narcotics officer whose task is to investigate Bob Arctor and his drug dealing friends.

The novel serves as a warning about what can happen to individuals who start down the slippery slope of drug use. While not all drugs are created equal, there are some that can cause irreversible damage to the user's body.

The title refers to the scanners, or cameras, that are set up in Bob Arctor's house so that Fred can observe the residents and make reports on them to his superiors. And darkly because Bob wonders about how the scanners see, clearly or darkly?

Bob Arctor is the guide through the story of A Scanner Darkly. Even though he is an addict it is easy to support him in his quest. It seems to be a quest for truth which he is unable to find. As he desends further into drug addiction it seems his only option is to go into rehab. But is this really for his own benefit?

The A Scanner Darkly book is a confusing journey into the world of drug addiction and deals with the question, "Who am I?"

It deals with themes of right and wrong; innocence and guilt; crime and punishment. These are fluid definitions that change depending on which way we look at them. A Scanner Darkly is my favorite Philip K. Dick book.