I may have seen Blade Runner several times as well as Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and binge-watched Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, but I can’t say I have picked up any Philip K. Dick’s books and read them which seemed like a huge blind spot to me, so I bought a few and read them. What I admire about his futuristic writing was his ability to create stories that defined Science Fiction, but more importantly, his imaginings included the ancient questions. Why are we here? What is reality and how do we define it? How to live? Why live?
The morality of life and how we interact with one another has been philosophized and dramatized since the Greeks stepped on the stage and Hamlet soliloquized “To Be or not to be.” So it’s fascinating when eternal questions are applied to the future. To me, this is the value of Dick. His writing style is blunt and minimalistic. The books that created the most empathy were my favorites (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) while other characters were too dark for me to enjoy (A Scanner Darkly). Philip K. Dick’s short stories from the 1950s, and his 60s and 70s experiences with drugs as well as his predictions of the future influenced a host of directors, writers, and the audience for decades–certainly my entire lifetime–affecting my notions of the future and scaring me in the process. Only a few film adaptations can translate the unsettling world of Dick’s stories with satisfaction; the world presented in a Philip K. Dick story satirizes society and keeps me skeptical of the promises of technological progress while making the crazy world of today bearable when compared to the future. That’s Science Fiction.
I’ve come to believe it’s better to read Dick than watch a film adaptation, albeit the adaptations have moments of innovation and worthy scenes. What are your favorite movie scenes? I want to buy more of his books. Which stories resonate with you?