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Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Discovering Philip K. Dick

I wasn't a big reader of science fiction, so I’d never read Philip K. Dick’s work, despite having seen Bladerunner over a dozen times. However, I recently watched the Amazon series The Man in the High castle, and while I loved the first season I lost interest during the second season. That’s when I asked the age-old question: How much better was the book?

We all know that movies and TV series almost always fall short of the books upon which these are based. A visual medium has some advantages over the printed word, but it also has limitations. A picture is worth a thousand words, but the printed word has the ability to provide insight into the cognitive depth of the characters. This is where the Amazon series fell short for me: it began with an alternate reality in which the characters discover the possibility of an alternate reality that is our current reality.

If this sounds a bit like reality inception, that’s because it is - but this concept alone isn’t what made the book more interesting. The characters’ psychological responses to the threat (or promise) of a different reality and the conjectures they make on the plausibility of our current reality are fascinating. This provides insight into the subjective nature of perception, especially when it comes to politics. It’s more than a simple picture of what things would look like if Hitler had won WWII. This books explores human nature and our psychological defenses. In other words, it’s the human, rather than scientific, element that makes the book speak to us.

I have since finished both Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (which became the movie “Bladerunner”) and The Man in the High Castle, and am starting on Ubik, considered by many critics to be Dick’s masterpiece. I have a lot of respect for Philip K. Dick as a writer after reading these books. Even if you don’t think you’d like science fiction, you might want to sample a bit of this author’s work. It’s worth your time.

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