Thursday, June 12, 2014

Minority Report, by Philip K. Dick

This particular book is an anthology of Dick's short stories put out by Orion Books and contains not only the titular story "Minority Report", but also the stories "Imposter", "Second Variety", "War Game", "What the Dead Men Say", "Oh, to Be a Blobel!", "Electric Ant", "Faith of Our Fathers", and "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale". Both "Minority Report" and "Imposter" have influenced films of the same name (albeit the film version is spelled Impostor), and "We Can Remember it for You Wholesale" was the inspiration for the cult favorite film Total Recall. As you can imagine there's a ton of really good sci-fi in this anthology, including what seems to be a favorite topic of Dick's: people who are secretly robots and don't realize it. And of course questioning if what we sense and perceive is real or not.

I think what I really liked about this collection was that a lot of the short stories had a much tighter focus and made a far more complete story. Opposed to certain longer works, (Granted, I've only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep), but even his longer short stories seem to start meandering into various streams of thought that Dick had, losing a certain amount of focus in the story. In his shorter stories, by contrast, Dick is forced to keep things much tighter and much more focused because of the brevity which means the story flows much better. I can easily see how someone would attempt to build an entire two-hour or so movie out of a story like "Imposter" or "Minority Report". There's a ton of meat there that offers opportunities for development and expansion, but because Dick's forced to stay focused it remains a short little thing. Possibly the story that I liked the most in this collection was "War Game" which reminded me of an episode of The Twilight Zone with its little surprising twist at the end.

If you haven't tried reading Dick yet, then I'd definitely recommend starting off with perhaps an anthology of short stories before jumping into one of his novels. His writing style is very unique, to say the least, and some of the plots in the longer stories can be more complicated to read, even for me. And I took on Les Miserables! (Seriously, that book has a whole chapter on Paris's sewer system!) Anyway, sorry this is a short review but this was a pretty good anthology that I picked up at the used book store so if you can find it on the shelf on your next trip, I'd recommend snatching it up if you can.

- Kalpar

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