Phillip K. Dick
#1
Can anyone recommend some works by Phillip K. Dick? I know that Minority Report is a short story of his and I heard a rumour that the movie "Screamers" is supposedly based on an idea of his (although I'm sure the movie-makers may not have done it justice). Has anyone read any Dick and can recommend something?
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#2
If you like his stuff, almost all of it runs in the same line of thought. Blade Runner, or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is probably as good a place to start as any. The Minority Report is part of a short story collection, and there are any number of those out there. There's also The Man in the High Castle (a "what if America lost WWII) and many others.

Are you looking for anything specifcally?
All your base are belong to us.

It could be that the purpose of my life is only to serve as a warning to others.
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#3
Ubik and Through a Scanner Darkly are 2 other novels of his that are really good.
Quote:If I had known it was harmless. I would have killed it myself.
With a quote like that from "Scanner Darkly" you just got to know it is good. :bg:
Curb your dogma
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#4
Also check out his short story Paycheck. Much better than the movie.
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#5
Phillip K Dick is so hep now, it's impossible to have an SF discussion without his name popping up. Nevertheless, in this case, all the belated hype is very well deserved. You could dive into his work at any point really, although later works like VALIS are rather odd and might be reserved for once you are already familiar with his earlier books.

It's interesting to consider how Dick's vision of reality being the product of patterns created by data, as well as the underlying paranoia in much of his work, so quirky and off-beat in his own time, inform much of mainstream movie and tv SF today. Truly a man ahead of time.
'No matter how the world makes out in the next few centuries, a large class of readers will not be too surprised at anything. They will have been through it all before in fictional form.' - De Camp
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#6
Quote:Originally posted by knivesout
Phillip K Dick is so hep now, it's impossible to have an SF discussion without his name popping up. Nevertheless, in this case, all the belated hype is very well deserved.


Yes, unfortunatly, most of the awarness is due to Hollywood converting his works to the big screen, rather than achieving it by the merits of the work beforehand.
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#7
It's understandable that Philip K Dick comes to the attention of people through movies since we seem to live in a technological society that doesn't want to read. It's so much easier to watch the movie, a visual "Cliff Notes".

When I was in high school in the late 60's it was almost a given that you would read LOTR. If not then, you surely would in college. Now people are amazed by the movies and don't even realize they were books. If LOTR can't pass the read test, then specialty writers like Dick don't stand a chance.
Curb your dogma
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#8
I recently read Second Variety which is a collection of some of his earliest works including the "Screamers" base material. Bearing in mind that these short stories are around 50 years old, I was impressed at just how contemporary they felt.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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#9
While the screen adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and then other subsequent works did encourage some greater interest in Dick, one of the foremost voices singing Dick's praises was Paul Williams, who brought Dick to the attention of the literary establishment that had previously ignored him.

Dick was a talented writer who took aphetamines to help him write very quickly. Unfortunately, few of his works had the rich characterization of A Man in High Castle, but he certainly wrote a number of very worthwhile works. The prime theme of Dick seems to be one of shifting realities, which is ironic as Dick has all the symptoms of a classic paranoid schizophrenic. (He heard voices, thought that the movie THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH had beamed a message into his head, etc.)

Major Dickian works include: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick Vols. 1-5, Ubik, A Scanner Darkly, The Man in High Castle, Valis and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

Kubrick had a keen interest in his work, which led to MINORITY REPORT being filmed by Steven Spielberg. Dick's story "Second Variety" was clearly an influence on James Cameron's Terminator series (and was badly filmed as SCREAMERS).
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#10
Quote:Originally posted by SFfilmfan
Unfortunately, few of his works had the rich characterization of A Man in High Castle, but he certainly wrote a number of very worthwhile works.


Interesting that you say that, SFfilmfan. I recently gave one of my friends an anthology of P.K. Dick stories to read, as I wanted him to read Paycheck, and he pretty much said the same thing. He felt the story was underdeveloped.
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#11
I'll give Dick this, Boomstick, his "Paycheck" was much better developed than the awful Ben Affleck movie made from it. Dick wanted to explore the concept that at the right time and in the right circumstances, a bus token could be more valuable to a man than $1,000. Thus, the story is set up to explore what might happen if a man who knows what the future brings and will have his memory erased takes in payment in lieu of simple funds, and what he does with them. Of course, there is a paranoid threat that the man must face and defuse....this is a Dick story, afterall.
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#12
Chilling and scary for the first little while as it smashes all of your truths and realities of the world and presents you with a hopeless and dreadful alternate present!! This book affected me every bit as much as Neville Schutte's On the Beach. Yet it gives a tiny ray of hope at the end as though the horrible present reality will soon change.
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#13
I don't know if it would interest you or not, but science fiction great Ursula K. LeGuin was so impressed with THE MAN IN HIGH CASTLE that she wrote the novel THE LATHE OF HEAVEN as a tribute to Dick (and pretty * * * * fine it is, too).
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#14
Quote:Originally posted by SFfilmfan
I don't know if it would interest you or not, but science fiction great Ursula K. LeGuin was so impressed with THE MAN IN HIGH CASTLE that she wrote the novel THE LATHE OF HEAVEN as a tribute to Dick (and pretty * * * * fine it is, too).


I can't think of a finer author to write a tribute either.The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness are two of my favourite books.

J
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#15
Ever notice that Dick and LeGuin have the SAME MIDDLE INITIAL???? Hmmm. Seriously though I am somewhat familiar with LeGuin as I came across her book "Tombs of Atuan" in a university English course (Forms of Fantasy). I found out that it was in fact the middle story of her Earthsea Trilogy but also that it was so different from the others that it could stand alone. I LOVED it. It is about an ancient world's ancient religious practice which is very much like Tibetan Buddhism sort of in that its leader the High Priestess of the Nameless Ones is thought to be re-born upon the death of each priestess and inhabit the body of a young girl who must be "reminded" of her ageless past and taken to the Temples to learn it all over again. The main character Tenar starts out her young life as the new Priestess and is awestruck to think that SHE is mistress of all this frightening heritage and receives the unquestioned deference of all the other priestesses and novitiates of the Temples. It's all about how her self-perception is twisted and clouded by all of the dark superstition and how she finally discovers who she really is!! I think LeGuin is also concerned with "real" and "apparent" in the world around us and in our place within it just like Dick. I will search out "Lathe of Heaven" and "Left Hand of Darkness" for sure. Thanks. I definitely recommend Shutte's On the Beach if you haven't picked it up yet too!
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#16
yes P. Dick has written great books, yes his paranoid vision of reality is very interesting, but I don't agree with all this saying he was an absolute genius from the start and that the films made from his early works don't make justice to them... His style was really poor when he started (and he was very aware of that, style was not his concern), and the short stories that were adapted to give Minority Report, Paycheck or Total Recall are IMHO underdevelopped and not very good. He took much more care later for some of the novels.
Now Dick is a very fashionable author (ironic when we see how his work was considered when he was alive), probably because questions like "what is reality?" and "what are we?" provide intriguing scenarios for movies. What is a bit strange is that the political aspect of Dick's work, his fears of what the american society could become, are almost completely forgotten in the movie adaptations...
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#17
While questions of what kind of country the U.S. was turning into did concern Dick, they were not a major element of any of his stories that have been adapted into films thus far. Dick was more concerned with plot than style or even characterization, and always his work was quickly churned out (for very low wages, it must be said). But it is always readable and sometimes fascinating.
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#18
To even consider TOTAL RECALL to be more than a page of a 20 page short story is generous. The original story was excellent. It was a clever idea with alien mice and a quirky style that just worked very well for me. TOTAL RECALL was an Arnold movie that slapped PKD on the credits to get some sales. Good thing he didn't live to see it.

[Ok, I'm a bit passionate about the abuses done to PKD stories. I'll admit it.]

-Neil
Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld Books
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#19
Well, I don't fully agree with you on that one. Even though there was way too much action for a PKD story, there is something Dickian that has come through the adaptation process. Namely the last scene that makes us reanalyse half of the story, and also the appearance, in the middle of the movie, of that scientist who gives the main character the choice between reality and fantasy (by a pill, rings a bell ?).
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#20
Yeah, I'll guess we'll agree to disagree on this.

I might have been a bit more accepting if they didn't have the nerve to say it was based on a story with a totally different premise.

The alien mice would have been more fun.

-Neil
Neil Clarke, Clarkesworld Books
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