Philip K. Dick

This is the summer of sci-fi for me. Last year was the beat generation, and distopias. Philip K. Dick could somehow qualify in each of those categories. What I find most interesting however, is the ease with which his stories are converted into films. Blade Runner is based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?; Total Recall is based on the short story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale;’ Minority Report and Imposter are based on short stories of the same titles; and Screamers is based on his short story ‘Second Variety.’ All of which I have now read.

It has been said that the difficulty in converting a story to a screenplay and then a movie lies in the inevitable loss of detail and nuance that is present in the written form. The reason it seems that Dick is so easily converted to film, is not because his work is shallow, far from it, but the fact that he provides implications for his readers to ponder. The open-ended themes point to a feeling in Dick’s writings that the stories are not bookended, what he writes about is something that is always continuing. This allows a great deal of manipulation to be present in the conversion from written to visual, while keeping Dick a presence. I’m glad I’ve read him, it has given me a few insights into both writing and film. hoo-eee!

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