_FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID_ is a 1974 science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick . The story follows a genetically enhanced pop singer and television star who wakes up in a world where he has never existed. The novel is set in a futuristic dystopia , where the United States has become a police state in the aftermath of a Second Civil War. It was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1974, a Hugo Award in 1975, and was awarded the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1975.
* 1 Plot summary * 2 Reception * 3 Title * 4 Author\'s interpretation
* 5 Adaptations
* 5.1 Stage * 5.2 Film
* 6 References * 7 External links
The novel is set in a dystopian version of 1988, following a Second Civil War which led to the collapse of the United States' democratic institutions. The National Guard ("nats") and US police force ("pols") reestablished social order through instituting a dictatorship, with a "Director" at the apex, and police marshals and generals as operational commanders in the field. Resistance to the regime is largely confined to university campuses, where radicalized former university students eke out a desperate existence in subterranean kibbutzim . Recreational drug use is widespread, and the age of consent has been lowered to twelve. The black population has almost been rendered extinct. Most commuting is undertaken by personal aircraft, allowing great distances to be covered in little time.
The novel begins with the protagonist, Jason Taverner, a singer, hosting his weekly TV show which has an audience of 30 million viewers. His special guest is his girlfriend Heather Hart, also a singer. Both Hart and Taverner are "Sixes", members of an elite class of genetically engineered humans. While leaving the studio, Taverner is telephoned by a former lover, who asks him to pay her a visit. When Taverner arrives at her apartment, the former lover attacks him by throwing a parasitic life-form at him. Although he manages to remove most of the life-form, parts of it are left inside him. After being rescued by Hart, he is taken to a medical facility.
Waking up the following day in a seedy hotel with no identification, Taverner becomes worried, as failure to produce identification at one of the numerous police checkpoints would lead to imprisonment in a forced labor camp. Through a succession of phone calls made from the hotel to colleagues and friends who now claim not to know him, Taverner establishes that he is no longer recognized by the outside world. He soon manages to bribe the hotel's clerk into taking him to Kathy Nelson, a forger of government documents. However, Kathy reveals that both she and the clerk are police informants, and that the lobby clerk has placed a microscopic tracking device on him. She promises not to turn Taverner over to the police on the condition that he spend the night with her. Although he attempts to escape, Kathy confronts him again after he has successfully passed a police checkpoint using the forged identity cards. Feeling in her debt, he accompanies Kathy to her apartment block, where Inspector McNulty, Kathy's police handler, is waiting. McNulty has located Taverner via the tracking device the hotel lobby clerk placed on him, and instructs Taverner to come with him to the 469th Precinct police station so that further biometric identity checks can be performed.
At the station, McNulty erroneously reports the man's name as Jason
Tavern, revealing the identity of a Wyoming diesel engine mechanic.
During questioning, Taverner goes along with McNulty's mistake,
explaining that he no longer resembles Tavern due to extensive plastic
surgery. McNulty accepts this explanation and decides to release
Taverner whilst lab checks are run on the rest of the documents. He
issues Taverner a seven-day police pass to ensure he can pass police
checkpoints in the interim period. Deciding to lie low, Taverner heads
to a Las Vegas bar in the hopes of meeting a woman with whom he can
stay. Instead, he encounters a former lover, Ruth Gomen; although she
no longer recognizes him, he succeeds in his bid to seduce her and is
taken back to her apartment. On the orders of
Buckman personally interrogates Taverner, soon reaching the conclusion that Taverner genuinely does not know why he no longer appears to exist. However, he suspects that Taverner may be part of a larger plot involving the Sixes. He orders Taverner released, although ensuring that tracking devices are again placed on him. Outside the police academy, Taverner is approached by Alys Buckman, Felix's hypersexual sister and lover. Alys removes the tracking devices from Taverner and invites him to the home she shares with her brother. On the way there, she tells Taverner that she knows he is a TV star and reveals copies of his records.
At the Buckmans' home, Taverner takes Alys up on an offer of mescaline . When he has a bad reaction to the drug, Alys goes to find him a medicine to counteract it. When she does not return, Taverner goes to search for her, only to find her skeletal remains on the bathroom floor. Frightened and confused, he flees, unsuccessfully pursued by a private security guard. To aid in his escape, he asks for the help of Mary Anne Dominic, a potter . Heading to a cafe with her, they find that one of his records is on the jukebox. When his song plays, people begin to recognize him as a celebrity. After parting with Dominic, Taverner goes to the apartment of his celebrity girlfriend Heather Hart. She returns home, horrified, and shows Taverner a newspaper mentioning that he is wanted in connection with Alys Buckman's death, the motive believed to have been his jealousy over Alys' purported relationship with Hart.
An autopsy reveals that Alys' death was caused by an experimental
reality-warping drug called KR-3. The coroner explains to Felix that,
as Alys was a fan of Taverner, her use of the drug caused Taverner to
be transported to a parallel universe where he no longer existed. Her
death then caused his return to his own universe. The
In an epilogue , the final fates of the main characters are
disclosed. Buckman retires to
New York Times
The title is a reference to _ Flow My Tears _, an ayre by the 16th century composer John Dowland , setting to music a poem by an anonymous author (possibly Dowland himself). Quotations from the piece begin every major section of the novel, and Dowland's work is referenced in several of Dick's works. The poem begins: Flow, my tears, fall from your springs, Exiled for ever, let me mourn Where night's black bird her sad infamy sings, There let me live forlorn.
The novel is parodied as _The Android Cried Me a River_ in _ VALIS _.
In his undelivered speech "How to Build a Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later," Dick recounts how in describing an incident at the end of the book (end of chapter 27) to an Episcopalian priest, the priest noted its striking similarity to a scene in the Books of Acts in the Bible. In Dick's book, the police chief, Felix Buckman, meets a black stranger at an all-night gas station, with whom he uncharacteristically makes an emotional connection. After handing the stranger a drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow, Buckman flies away, but he quickly returns and hugs the stranger, after which they strike up a friendly conversation. In the Book of Acts (chapter 8), the disciple Philip meets an Ethiopian eunuch (i.e. a black man) sitting in a chariot to whom he explains a passage from the Book of Isaiah , and then converts him to Christianity.
Dick further notes that eight years after writing the book, he himself uncharacteristically came to the aid of a black stranger who had run out of gas. After giving the man some money and then driving away, he returned to help the man reach a gas station. Dick was then struck by the similarity between this incident and that described in his book (approaching a black stranger, and returning again).
Dick also recounts an unusual dream experience he had in the writing of the book, and how he felt compelled to get into the text of the novel. Years later, in retrospect of the Biblical coincidences he experienced following the publication of the novel, he came to interpret this dream as the key to understanding the real meaning of the story, stating:
Deciphered, my novel tells a quite different story from the surface story (…). The real story is simply this: the return of Christ, now king rather than suffering servant. Judge rather than victim of unfair judgment. Everything is reversed. The core message of my novel, without my knowing it, was a warning to the powerful: You will shortly be judged and condemned.
Mabou Mines presented the world premiere of a theatrical adaptation
of _Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said_ at the
The play was directed by Bill Raymond , Hartinian's husband. "It was in response to Linda's loss that we chose _Tears_," he told the Phoenix, "because _Flow My Tears_ is in fact a novel about grief, and not necessarily just about loss of identity."
The play has been performed by Mabou Mines in