Philip K. Dick (PKD) needs no introduction in the world of cult TV and sci-fi. His work has created some of the most seminal works of cinema and television including Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Man in the High Castle to name but a few. Now, Electric Dreams is a new anthology which has launched on Channel 4 in the UK which adapts ten of PKD’s short stories for the screen and includes casting such as Bryan Cranston and Steve Buscemi; this accompanying book has the original stories all in one place, Starburst took a look at what is to come.
Electric Dreams includes a variety of stories all set in the future, all with noir-ish elements, mystery, postmodernism and political statements that are familiar in PKD’s work. These include: Exhibit Piece, which focuses on a historian who debates his sense of reality amidst a 20th century exhibition, The Commuter, in which the aptly named protagonist makes sense of where his town has gone, and The Hood Maker which sees a government agent come into conflict with a group of telepathic “hoods”. All the stories include a foreword from the creative minds of each corresponding episode, including Ronald D. Moore (of Star Trek DS9 fame), Matthew Graham (Life on Mars/Ashes to Ashes) and Kalen Egan (The Man In The High Castle).
As far as the stories are concerned, they are an excellent introduction to any only just discovering PKD; the stories still seem futuristic (even though PKD’s vision of “the future” is set in the years we are now living in), you get a sense of PKD’s views on the world such as preserving cultural history in the face of bland, monochrome “progress” and to stand against what governments will become (or is that have become?). However, some of PKD’s short stories can be hit-or-miss, some seem too constrained or are resolved quickly and inadequately.
Electric Dreams gives the reader a really balanced view of PKD’s work in light of the series to come: some stories you will hope get a really faithful treatment, others you hope the adaptation will do a better job of.
PHILIP K. DICK'S ELECTRIC DREAMS / AUTHOR: PHILIP K. DICK / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW