The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer was published shortly after Philip K. Dick died. The novel is narrated by Angel Archer, the only female narrator in any of Dick’s novels. As the book opens, Angel arrives at a religious workshop given by local guru Edgar Barefoot. Angel has just learned of John Lennon’s murder. This triggers memories of her former husband, Jeffrey, a Beatles fanatic whose suicide in the 1970’s left her emotionally scarred. From this point, Angel narrates most of the book in recollection.

She first describes the gradual disintegration of their marriage, as Jeffrey’s obsession with his graduate work in history begins to reflect his own dangerous obsession with his father, the famed Episcopal bishop Timothy Archer. Jeffrey’s breakdown occurs soon after Timothy falls in love with Kirsten Lundborg, a friend of Angel. Kirsten becomes Timothy’s mistress and travels with him to London to research ancient, countertraditional Christian documents recently unearthed by biblical scholars. Timothy’s research leads him to search for the anokhi, supposedly a wild mushroom that offers direct revelation of God. Those who consume the anokhi therefore can bypass the authority of the church itself.

Both Timothy’s research and his relationship with Kirsten eventually result in scandal. Jeffrey’s obsession with his father and his jealousy of Kirsten trigger his suicide. Kirsten also eventually kills...

(The entire section is 456 words.)