Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Electric Dreams by Philip K. Dick

The Stories Behind the TV Series ELECTRIC DREAMS: “Though perhaps most famous as a novelist, Philip K. Dick wrote more than one hundred short stories over the course of his career, each as mind-bending and genre-defining as his longer works. Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams collects ten of the best. In “Autofac,” Dick shows us one of the earliest examples (and warnings) in science fiction of self-replicating machines. “Exhibit Piece” and “The Commuter” feature Dick exploring one of his favorite themes: the shifting nature of reality and whether it is even possible to perceive the world as it truly exists. And “The Hanging Stranger” provides a thrilling, dark political allegory as relevant today as it was when Dick wrote it at the height of the Cold War. Strange, funny, and powerful, the stories in this collection highlight a master at work, encapsulating his boundless imagination and deep understanding of the human condition.” Narrators include Fiona Hardingham, Justine Eyre, Sarah Nichols, Tim Reynolds, Ralph Lister, and Simon Vance. What’s good about this audiobook is that there is commentary accompanying the stories explaining why producers for the Amazon series chose them. The 2016 election is mentioned. Philip K. Dick himself was not a fan of the Republican party, and “Tricky Dick” Nixon faced his wrath in another story and audiobook Radio Free Albemuth. In that one, which I have heard (and seen the 2010 movie, also an Amazon Prime selection), a Valis spy satellite in space has been watching mankind for many years, and beams a signal to implant ideas into the mind of a music producer and one of his wannabe singers. Alanis Morissette plays Sylvia, and Jonathan Scarfe plays Nicholas Brady. Shea Whigham plays a science fiction writer whose name and work is misused (something like Harlan Ellison’s was), and Scott Wilson plays POTUS, a despot running a police/military state that controls the media, protects us “for our own good,” and executes those who disagree. The scifi writer becomes homeless. Oddly, it was the New York Times which dismissed the movie at the time, wondering how subliminal messages in songs could incite a revolution. At the end, those songs are the country’s only hope. Recommend listening to the audiobook before seeing the movie. Same for Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall, The Man in the High Castle, and The Minority Report. Is Dick still alive, today? Seems like it. I saw someone resembling him in a Tucson shopping mall once. Someone tell conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to read The World Jones Made, or Lies, Inc., if not Eye in the Sky. It would be headline news if he reviewed it. From another author, try The Massacre of Mankind by Stephen Baxter, which is a continuation of The War of the Worlds (which was a Tom Cruise movie, as was The Minority Report.) “They” have been watching us for a long time…for good or for ill. —JL

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