Philip K. Dick

sitting-flowtears-tnworks_stories-selectedI was at the library last week, and browsed for about a good twenty minutes. I came across quite a few books that I’m up to reading, but it was a collection of short stories by Philip K. Dick that got me excited.  I forgot how good Philip K. Dick was. His influence on science fiction goes without saying. Actually, I’m more aware of the movies based his books and short stories, than the actual books and short stories. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was adapted to what we now know as the sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. Both the book and the movie were ahead of its time. Then, there’s the short story, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, which became Total Recall. (Actually, after reading the short story, the movie was better, but that’s beside the point.)

Dick was innovative and daring with his science fiction. He was constantly on the outside looking in. His own paranoia fueled his originality. Totalitarian style governments and monopolistic corporations are staples in most of his stories. Constant themes are freedoms lost, rampant consumerism, and the lost individual. The worlds he created suck me in immediately. I read “Paycheck” in an afternoon and was completely wowed by the story. I’m not even going to bother watching the Ben Affleck version (the Netflix rating were pretty low).

His characters are just as interesting. They’re not all heroic or have super powers or anything cliche. They’re average Joe’s and Jane’s. They afflicted with tough decision in a dystopian future most of the time. I think this where Dick was at his best. The characters that you can relate too because they work nine to five jobs but are faced with fantastic elements that require decisions that aren’t always the right thing to do. Elements of the anti-hero are present in a lot of his characters.

I know I should be reading a lot of today’s science fiction writers, but it’s hard to not want to go into Philip K. Dick’s worlds. The book I picked up is Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick. He wrote a lot of short stories, but I’m led to believe that these are the best of the best. So far, I’m not disappointed, and it’s a great way to learn where a lot of today’s science fiction originated.

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