Counter-Clock World

Counter-Clock World is a 1967 science fiction novel by American author Philip K. Dick. It was expanded from his short story "Your Appointment Will Be Yesterday", first published in the August 1966 edition of Amazing Stories.

The novel describes a future in which time has started to move in reverse, resulting in the dead reviving in their own graves ("old-birth"), living their lives in reverse, and eventually returning to the womb where they split into an egg and a sperm during copulation between a recipient woman and a man.

Counter-Clock World
Cover of first edition (paperback)
AuthorPhilip K. Dick
CountryUnited States
GenreScience fiction
PublisherBerkley Books
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)

Plot summary

The story takes place in a (then-future) fictional 1998, and centers on Anarch Peak, a black religious leader who had died in 1971 and is expected to rise soon. Sebastian Hermes, an owner of a small Vitarium (a business that digs up the dead and gives them the treatment they need before returning them to society), discovers Peak's resurrection is imminent. After accidentally discovering the burial place of Peak, he decides, against the law, to dig up the body before the Anarch awakes. (As with contemporary controversies about brain death, it seems not to be judged morally significant if a heartbeat can be heard, but it is illegal to dig anyone up before they start talking, which suggests resumed brain function is a marker of "old-birth.")

Various groups are interested in controlling the affairs of the 'old-born', such as the Vitaria (technically, a person resurrected is in the legal custody of their Vitarium until claimed by family members) and the Library, an organization dedicated to erasing books which have passed beyond the initial date at which they were written.

Religious institutions are also interested in 'old-birth', particularly in the resurrection of Anarch Peak in the case of the Udites (an African-American religion) and The Rome Syndicate (the highest authority in Caucasian matters, as well as the owner of numerous religious artifacts and other items, like a syringe that can stop the Hobart Phase for short periods of time). These factions then argue over the ownership of Anarch Peak after his resurrection. When the Library kidnaps Anarch Peak, both factions send Sebastian Hermes to recover him. In the end Peak is killed and there may be an interracial war as a consequence of Peak's permanent death.

The Hobart Phase

The Hobart Phase is the new order of life where people rise from the dead and are rejuvenated. Time reversal apparently began in 1986. Other than aging, Hobart Phase resurrection has changed nutritional and excretion processes and associated social taboos. People do not eat, but instead consume "Sogum" anally through a pipe, and later "plop" out food orally, which is done in private, due to its 'shameful' nature. As for smoking, cigarettes are no longer smoked, but the smoke instead blown back into them, making them grow back to normal size (this also clears and freshens the air). "Goodbye" and "hello" have reversed their order within standard greetings, and "food" is used as a drop-in replacement for the expletive "shit". It is stated that Mars colonists do not have the Hobart Phase on their world, and it is limited to Earth, and presumably its lunar colonies as well.

Divided USA

As hinted in the book, the United States of America has been partitioned into eastern and western segments. Hawaii and Alaska have also seceded from the WUS and FNM, but this is only mentioned in passing. In the WUS (Western United States), California is predominantly white, while the eastern "Free Negro Municipality" (FNM) is inhabited by African Americans. The fictitious religion of Uditi is the national religion of the East. Uditi is an offshoot of Christianity with apparent influences from Roman Catholicism and the Rastafari movement, and is centered on "the udi", an experience of a group mind.

Inhabitants of the WUS view the religion with suspicion, and it is hinted that their media demonizes its adherents. Library-sanctioned murders and civil unrest are claimed to be the works of religious fanatics. FNM currency is claimed to be worthless, as is WUS currency (stated earlier in the book), but its citizens ignore this due to patriotism.

See also


"Autofac" is a 1955 science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick that features one of the earliest treatments of self-replicating machines (and Dick's second, after his 1953 short story Second Variety). It appeared originally in Galaxy Science Fiction of November 1955, and was reprinted in several collections, including The Variable Man published in 1957, and Robots, Androids, and Mechanical Oddities published in 1984.

The story was adapted by Travis Beacham for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

Confessions d'un Barjo

Confessions d'un Barjo (known as Barjo for the English-language market) is a 1992 French film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's non-science fiction novel Confessions of a Crap Artist, originally written in 1959 and published in 1975, the only non-science fiction novel of Dick's to be published in his lifetime. The film was directed by Jérôme Boivin and written by Jacques Audiard and Jérôme Boivin, and stars Anne Brochet, Richard Bohringer and Hippolyte Girardot. "Barjo" translates as "nutcase" or "nut job".

Fair Game (short story)

"Fair Game" is a science fiction short story written by Philip K. Dick in 1953 and first published in 1959 in If Magazine. The story was re-published in the third collected volume of Dick's short stories, The Father-thing in 1987.

Human Is

"Human Is" is a science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Startling Stories, Winter 1955. The plot centers on the crisis facing a woman whose cold and emotionally abusive husband returns from a survey mission to the dying planet Rexor IV, changed for the better—his psyche was replaced by a Rexorian, glad to have escaped the confines of its dying planet.

The story was adapted by Jessica Mecklenburg for an episode of the 2017 TV series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams.

I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon

"I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon" is a short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. The short story was first published in Playboy in December 1980, under the title "Frozen Journey".

If There Were No Benny Cemoli

"If There Were No Benny Cemoli" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in the December, 1963 issue of Galaxy magazine with illustration by Lutjens."The Proxmen rebuilding war-torn Earth want to prosecute its leaders for war crimes. Benny Cemoli would be the biggest catch of all, if they could just find him. -- Steven Owen Godersky

Mary and the Giant

Mary and the Giant is an early, non-science fiction novel written by Philip K. Dick in the years between 1953 and 1955, but not published until 1987.

Not by Its Cover

"Not by Its Cover" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, a sequel to his first published science fiction short story, "Beyond Lies the Wub". The story continues the former's theme of immortality, although not focusing on a living Wub itself, but rather its fur.

Novelty Act

"Novelty Act" is a short story by Philip K. Dick. It involves a dystopian future in which the characters' lives are based on entertaining the First Lady of the United States with "novelty acts".

Our Friends from Frolix 8

Our Friends From Frolix 8 is a 1970 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick.

Puttering About in a Small Land

Puttering About in a Small Land is an early non-science fiction novel by American science fiction author Philip K. Dick. It was written sometime in 1957, but remained unpublished until it was released posthumously in 1985.

Shell Game (short story)

"Shell Game" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was submitted to the Scott Meredith Literary Agency and received by SMLA on December 12, 1953. It was published in Galaxy Science Fiction in September 1954

Strange Eden

"Strange Eden" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Imagination magazine, December 1954.

The Cookie Lady (short story)

"The Cookie Lady" is a horror short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was originally published in the June 1953 issue of the magazine Fantasy Fiction.

The Days of Perky Pat

"The Days of Perky Pat" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1963 in Amazing magazine.

The Electric Ant

"The Electric Ant" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine in October 1969.

The Pre-persons

"The Pre-persons" is a science fiction short story by American writer Philip K. Dick. It was first published in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine, October 1974.

The story was a pro-life response to Roe v. Wade. Dick imagines a future where the United States Congress has decided that abortion is legal until the soul enters the body. The specific instant is defined by the administration, at present the moment a person has the ability to perform simple algebraic calculations (around the age of 12).

The main protester — a former Stanford mathematics major — demands to be taken to the abortion center, since he claims to have forgotten all his algebra.

Vintage PKD

Vintage PKD is a collection of science fiction stories, novel excerpts and non-fiction by Philip K. Dick. It was first published by Vintage Books in 2006.

Voyager Classics Collection

The Voyager Classics Collection was published by Voyager Books 'to celebrate the greatest works of science fiction and fantasy'. It consists of the following 36 titles (with first published dates):

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien (1954)

The Once and Future King by T. H. White (1958)

Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1951)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1992)

The Two Towers by J R R Tolkien (1954)

Weaveworld by Clive Barker (1987)

The Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke (1986)

The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick (1963)

Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984)

Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1993)

The Return of the King by J R R Tolkien (1955)

Out of the Silent Planet/Perelandra by C. S. Lewis (1938)/(1943)

Shadowland by Peter Straub (1980)

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (1996)

That Hideous Strength by C S Lewis (1945)

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (1950)

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1950)

Magician by Raymond E. Feist (1982)

The Time Ships by Stephen Baxter (1995)

The Silmarillion by J R R Tolkien (1977)

Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen Donaldson (1977)

Neverness by David Zindell (1988)

The Illearth War by Stephen Donaldson (1978)

The Diamond Throne by David Eddings (1989)

Counter-Clock World by Philip K Dick (1967)

At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft (1936)

Cloven Hooves by Megan Lindholm (1991)

The Power that Preserves by Stephen Donaldson (1979)

The Ruby Knight by David Eddings (1991)

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (1951)

Shikasta by Doris Lessing (1979)

The Sapphire Rose by David Eddings (1992)

Only Forward by Michael Marshall Smith (1994)

Imajica by Clive Barker (1991)

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