A Maze of Death is another of Philip K Dick’s novels that I had never read, he wrote about 40 novels, and over 100 short stories. It is yet another one that is brilliant, although decidedly strange. A Maze of Death tells the story of a group of humans who have each been chosen to colonise a world, named Delmak-O far from other human civilisation. Each of the fourteen colonists has a different skill and profession, but none have an idea why they have been chosen to colonise this planet. Once the last colonist has arrived they attempt to communicate with the organisation that has sent them to the planet, but the communication system fails. After this they try to work out their true mission on Denmark-O; this only results in them rounding on one another and eventually, a number of murders.
Dick is an excellent science-fiction writer, this novel is more proof of that, however this also shows that he can write flawed characters, and can write very dark stories. As the story develops, and the world seems to become more dangerous, each character reveals parts of their psyche. They each have flaws; be it the overly sexual Suzie Smart, or Ignatz Thugg who eventually becomes a murderer. The group has no way of functioning together, they elect a leader, but this is disputed as one of the characters was not present. Within 24 hours the whole group is either dead, contemplating suicide or confused by the whole situation.
This novel is weird, it has a number of twists and is definitely not easily understandable. One character begins to understand what appears to be going on, but has no way of escaping, except through death. I would recommend this as one of Philip K Dick’s strangest novels, but it is also thought provoking, and in places very humorous.