Thus, the new empire of his hegemony had vanished the moment it had begun.
Ubik. Ubiquity. That which is everywhere, always. It is 1992 and Glen Runciter leads Runciter Associates in New York City, an anti-psionic prudence organization. In a world rampant with advanced humans holding precognitive abilities, personal privacy becomes an issue. Like in our world now, the pervasive (even ubik) nature of the internet creates a war for privacy. In this world there is a balance. Inertials exist to disrupt the precog's waves, the good ones are with Runciter.
Joe Chip is the J.C. of this world, the Mercer--who must climb the stairs or fall into the Swiss existentialist pit of bones and doom. Joe is Runciter's right-hand-man. He's not an inertial, he's a tester. And he's financially unsound. This is a coin-op world. And without real, tangible cashola one cannot leave their home (the door costs a coin to open), cannot eat, smoke, shit, or shine their shoes. Chip is perpetually without money and his credit is no good.
And then there's Pat Conley, newly introduced to the Runciter organization. Joe labels her inertial powers as dangerous to the company, but in what way he is unsure. She claims to have the ability to alter time, retroactively--somewhat like Ursula K. Le Guin's George Orr from the Dick-inspired The Lathe of Heaven. That would make her powers... ubiquitous. Her shoulder tattoo reads caveat emptor.
But there's no time to worry about her right now. There's shit to get done. Ray Hollis leads an organizaton of precogs and telepaths. Apparently they've infilitrated a lunar base. Runciter and crew have been without employment recently, so they jump at the chance to put their inertial abilities in action on the moon. But something goes terribly wrong...
Someone's dead. Or--someone's half-dead. For in this world, half-life exists. The best place to store your almost dead is Beloved Brethren Moratorium in Switzerland, run by Schoenheit von Vogelsang.
After a certain point, things become absurd. What is happening? Time-slippage... our group of inertials, lead by Joe Chip are convinced that Glen Runciter is dead. But why is it that Joe keeps communicating with him in odd ways... his voice on a telephone, television advertisements, and the insistence on his using Ubik-brand reality cleaner... just what the fuck is going on, anyway?
"This was just the beginning." Published in 1969, Ubik eventually influenced a line of furniture. There are a million brilliant, quirky ideas per page, and in my opinion is Dick's most humorous novel. But it is not without its serious reality-questioning-quotient. It is everywhere. Come drag behind in time, and watch the world flicker thicker than ever before. Use only as directed, buyer beware.