Gather Yourselves Together is one of the very first novels written by the late Philip K Dick, one biographer considers that it may be his first novel-length story. It was originally published in 1984 after the authors death and as ever credit goes to Gollancz for making sure it stays in print.
It's an interesting book. Like a number of PKD stories there is little real science fiction, actually its pretty much none-existent here. The premise is that an American run Factory in China is being repatriated by the Chinese and three people are left in a big, empty building to take care of it for a week or so until the Chinese arrive. It's easy to tell that this is one of the authors earliest works. In many ways it feels like his voice at an almost embryonic stage with much of his style still yet to be formed.
This early stage form extends to the books characters which will seem similar to anyone who has read PKD's later works - the strong, smart woman who seems to be in control of her surroundings. One of the male roles seemingly based on the author himself - perhaps re-enforcing the theory that this was his very first novel.
Not only is the book devoid of science fiction but it's pretty minimalist in most respects, divided between exploring the budding relationship between Barbara and Carl in the present and the relationship between Barbara and Verne in the past. While not strictly a ménage à trois the story does really boil down to a love triangle of sorts.
The story is laid out in PKD's usual sedate, unhurried pace and even though on reflection it seems not that much happens it did keep my interest enough to read most of the book in one sitting.
I wouldn't recommend any PKD novice to begin here but for any fan of the author the novel does act as a remarkable insight into the early stages of an immeasurable talent.
Written on 8th September 2014 by Ant.
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