The First 106 Pages Of Ubik


There was once a theory put forward by cultural theorist Skadoj Capper [1871-1812], that all you needed to read of a book was were the first 106 pages. What happened on page 107, unimportant. All other pages, including the ending, unimportant. Most disagreed, but Capper stayed adamant. The only thing that annoyed him was a book less than 106 pages long. Like Automatic Assassin. Or The Brothers Kolinski. These books he would not read.


Ubik [106 pages]


1. Joe Chip is introduced in the third chapter, struggling to enter his own apartment. Why the third chapter? Is he not the main character? Yes, but the world must be accounted for first. Then emetised.

World > characters

2. The old Fitzgerald trick is utilised in Chapter Two – instead of following Runciter from the end of Chapter One into the beginning of the next chapter, we are put into the headspace of the moratorium mausoleum owner, who thinks about irrelevant things for two pages before Runciter re-invades the narrative. Then we switch back to that mind. Why?

 – it establishes a world separate from the main characters’ world
 – it gives Runciter a chance to take a break from the narrative
 – it suggests time follows its own track, not the characters
 – the mausoleum owner has no reason to exist as an ‘investigated individual’ in this world so, following the theme of the text, he must exist in that exact way.

3. Pat Conley is an inertial whose power remains confusing. It sets her up as the GOD of the story as she can alter anything that has happened in the past. In fact, part of the story is the result of one of her alterations. Is the rest of it also her doing? That is unimportant. Whatever she does after page 106, or if she is even the one doing it, is irrelevant.

4. Joe Chip has little credit and no power. Not even enough to enter or exit his apartment – he must pay the front door to open and close. It seems that this means something, crypto-thematically. But what? Control? Abrasive technology?

5. Runciter dies on Luna, killed by business enemy Ray Hollis. By page 106, he is trapped as a calm voice on the hotel room phone of Joe Chip. This implies not-dead, eternal, a figure-construct that Chip can never replace.

Death > Joe Chip

6. Wendy Wright is dead. Following Capperist theory, this suggests the better passive die young and are given only enough time to establish one single character trait. Wendy appeared pretty and compassionate. She wanted to date fuck Joe Chip. Joe Chip is a mess. It makes no sense, meaning Joe Chip is composing the text.

7. Joe Chip is truly a mess, a shambles, yet survives constantly. He IS writing the text. Must be.

TEXT > Joe Chip > text

8. Paranoia.

9. It’s not paranoia if you’re a character in the first 106 pages of Ubik.

10. Arousal.

11. Joe Chip becomes is becoming a coin, slides into currency. Last face you see when you switch to credit card. Runciter, his boss, powerless to stop it. Progress?

12. To die with the smugness of Pat Conley. Mausoleums vanish as you approach. Old age a movie for others. In the fridge scene, there was is will be no actual neon, only sliced-off hand.

8.1 Reading the first 106 pages of Ubik a second time is was not the same as the first. And the third is will be not the same as the second. The text changes/d itself. Didactic.

UBIK > reader

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