Monday, September 7, 2015

Philip K Dick


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I'm currently on my PKD binge-reading and watching period, The Man in the High Castle being the latest. The novel is a 5-star fascinating, complex, and hard to categorize 274-page work of fiction. Readers usually add it to alternate history, science fiction, and book within a book genres.

from GoodReads
It's America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan. This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.
I love the novel and has become my PKD favorite along with VALIS Trilogy. It's a little different from his other works and very well written. It has to be read more than twice to fully appreciate.

Its adaptation - the pilot is streaming on Amazon - is one of the worst I've seen. The pilot is dumbed down and strayed too much from the story. The book within a book is changed to film within a film which is stupid. The performers and director are incompetent, as usual. I do not recommend the Amazon original series for serious PKD fans specially those who love this novel.  

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Most, with a few exceptions, PKD's novels and short stories adapted to movie and TV screenplays are so far off from the stories, they're unrecognizable. Minority Report and Next are the two worst adaptations. It's so frustrating having high hopes for the visuals only to get annoyed by the script and the actors and directors who obviously haven't read the stories.

Below is a list of PKD screen adaptations I've watched. The star ratings are for the movies only; the more stars, the more faithful they are to the novels and short stories. My star ratings for the novels and stories are mostly 5, 4, and 3.

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A Scanner Darkly - A Scanner Darkly
Radio Free Albemuth - VALIS Trilogy - RFA rewritten and improved

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Impostor  - Impostor (short story)
Total Recall - We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (short story)

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Blade Runner (I love this movie but it is not a good adaptation of the book) - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (5 stars)
Paycheck - Paycheck (short story)

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Minority Report - The Minority Report
Goose Egg
Next - The Golden Man: Short Story
The Man In The High Castle - The Man in the High Castle

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PKD Collected Stories

I recently got a 5-volume paperback set of PKD short stories. I already have several in my Kindle but many stories in these volumes are new to me. I started reading Volume 5 and The Pre-Persons caught my eye. It is a great read and surprised me as I didn't expect PKD as someone who would write a good argument against abortion. The story is really short, about 11 pages long, has an important message specially to pro-abortion crowd. The volume's Notes has this PKD quote regarding the short story. Nothing has changed; the pro-abortion groups were nasty then and even nastier now:
In this I incurred the absolute hate of Joanna Russ who wrote me the nastiest letter I’ve ever received; at one point she said she usually offered to beat up people (she didn’t use the word people) who expressed opinions such as this …I am sorry to offend those who disagree with me about abortion on demand… But for the pre-person’s sake I am not sorry. I stand where I stand: “Hier steh Ich; Ich kann nicht anders,” as Martin Luther is supposed to have said.
You can read the entire short story here or the PDF copy here.

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