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Book 9: Minority Report and other stories

November 30, 2009

I love Phillip K Dick.  Some of his books I cannot put down and some I can’t even finish but the extremely great outweighs the mediocre to poor.  He was a sci fi writer who took on a lot of socio and political themes as well as the metaphysical.  Many decent movie adaptations have been made, with a few of the original stories in this book.

A few of my favorites in no particular order:

Minority Report has some differences from the movie, which I saw first.  To be more true to the story, Tom Cruise would have had to have been 50 and balding, but other than that there are few huge changes of note.  Obviously, it is a short story so a lot is added into the movie, but nothing that changes anything major.

We Can Remember it for you Wholesale is a great short story that turned into a cult classic: Total Recall.  If I remember correctly, Piers Anthony wrote a novelization of this story for the movie, but whatever.  This is a pretty short story with most of the time spent on Earth taken care of and little of what the movie depicts on mars.  It is satisfying to read the original ideas, but little insight is really gained.

Paycheck is the one film adaptation I have not seen from Dick’s work. So I won’t mention it.  Instead here is what Phillip K Dick said himself,

“How much is a key to a bus locker worth? One day it’s worth 25 cents, the next day thousands of dollars. In this story I got to thinking that there are times in our lives when having a dime to make a phone call spells the difference between life and death. Keys, small change, maybe a theater ticket — how about a parking receipt for a Jaguar? All I had to do was link this idea up with time travel to see how the small and useless, under the wise eyes of a time traveler, might signify a great deal more. He would know when that dime might save your life. And, back in the past again, he might prefer that dime to any amount of money, no matter how large.”

This is a very cool story and I now want to see the movie.  Basically a guy gets done with a job of which he has no recollection and can either take the paycheck and be done with it or take the trinkets instead and figure out what kind of work he did and what the company is up to.

Second Variety is probably my favorite story in the book.  It is about a post apocalyptic war still going on Earth.  The fighting is between the UN/US and the Soviet Union.  The US has had the upper hand in the war for a while due to artificially intelligent robot “claws” that take care of anything in their way.  But as the war continues, the “claws” recreate and improve themselves to take on the likeness of children, injured soldiers, etc. and start to take over both sides of the war and eventually the whole race.

The book is great because I love short stories and PKD but for most I would have to recommend his novels as a starting point, a middle point, and possibly even an ending point because they are so much more thought provoking.  I will not get into detail right now which novels of his to read as I will be re-reading many of them in the coming weeks and reviewing them on this site.


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