I have problems getting to sleep (like most of us) and I spotted a post on Instagram a week or so ago about putting all my electronic devices away (including my kindle) and picking up a good old book at bedtime to help you sleep. I have to be honest I don’t think it’s helped me sleep any better but it gave me an idea for a blog post. So here’s the first of my Bedtime Book Reviews:
Title: Electric Dreams by Philip K Dick.
Date Published: 14th September 2017
Genre: Sci-fi, Short story anthology
FROM VISIONARY WRITER WHO INSPIRED BLADE RUNNER, TOTAL RECALL, THE MAN IN HIGH CASTLE, MINORITY REPORT AND A SCANNER DARKLY COMES A COLLECTION OF TEN STORIES TO REPROGRAM YOUR MIND.
From tales of a wife who suspects her husband may no longer be the same man after a trip to deep space, to a government agent seeking the source behind a recent wave of illegal, telepathy-inhibiting ‘hoods’, these stories investigate what it means to be human in a changing world.
These ten stories inspired the ten episodes of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, the hit TV series from Channel 4 and Sony Pictures Television. Each story also has an exclusive introduction by the writers who adapted it for the series, including Ronald D. Moore, Matthew Graham, Jessica Mecklenburg, Tony Grisoni and Jack Thorne.
So before the TV series Electric Dreams was broadcast I’d never really heard of Philip K Dick (seriously every time I type that name I giggle, yes I’m like a five year old) but having enjoyed a couple of episodes of the show I thought I’d read the original stories. That was about six months ago and I have finally got round to reading them.
The stories in this collection are, Exhibit Piece, The Commuter, The Impossible Planet, The Hanging Stranger, Sales Pitch, The Father Ting, The Hood Maker, Foster, You’re Dead, Human Is and Autofac.
There is so much crammed into these short stories, aliens, telepaths, dystopian futures, space travel, body snatchers I could go on!
Like with most collections there were a few standouts. My favourites were The Hanging Stranger, Sales Pitch and Human Is.
The Hanging Stranger is about a man called Ed Loyce who after spending the morning in his basement, goes to work to find a strange man hanging in the town square. Nobody notices but him. He feels like he’s going mad, is it real or is there something more sinister at work? This for me had the best ending in the entire book and out of the stories which had the theme of is this real or am I losing my mind, it just captured my imagination.
Sales Pitch is about a world gone mad from advertising (sometimes it feels like that now, doesn’t it?), you can’t go anywhere without adverts or sales bots haunting your every move. When Ed Morris (another Ed, I know) comes home he wants to escape until a robot turns up and refuses to leave, so he takes it with him to the planet Proxima in a bid to escape it all.
Then there’s Human Is, about Jill who’s husband suddenly changes, from a cold hearted bully to the husband she’s always wanted after a trip to deep space. Again even though this is science fiction, this one is a real character based story that would appeal to anyone. I mean how often have we thought you wouldn’t mind changing your other half?
These stories were written back in the 1950’s, in the shadow of the Cold War, so there were a few outdated stereotypes and language but the stories so original and unique that will appeal to most modern readers. I can also so see why so many of his stories get adapted into films, the majority of them have ambiguous or open ending just begging someone to finish or expand the stories.
Also I could have done without the introductions on each story but that’s personal preference rather than anything else.
Overall a must for Science fiction fans and lovers of dystopian fiction.
About The Author:
Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer, whose published works mainly belong to the genre of science fiction. Dick explored philosophical, sociological and political themes in novels with plots dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments, and altered states of consciousness. In his later works, Dick’s thematic focus tended to reflect his personal interest in metaphysics and theology.
He often drew upon his life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia, schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS. Later in life, he wrote non-fiction on philosophy, theology, the nature of reality, and science. This material was published posthumously as The Exegesis.
The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens one day to find that he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975. “”I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards,”” Dick wrote of these stories. “”In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.””
In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, eleven popular films based on his works have been produced, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau and Impostor. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.
Up next on Bedtime Book Reviews (whenever I finish it that is) : Evil Games by Angela Marsons.