Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Philip K. Dick Documentary and Hunting for His Books

It’s been a very busy week for me although a neat one. Even though really heavy writing of articles for clients while trying to squeeze in writing a new short story has been wearing me out, I came across some interesting things throughout the week. Two of them I found on Memorial Day Monday at Beer’s Books in Sacramento. Beer’s is one of the biggest used-book stores in the Sacramento area. You can almost find any book you can think of: anything from an early 20th century hardcover to 1950s pulps to newly printed books. Well, for the last three weeks I had been on a mad hunt for a copy of a book by Philip K. Dick, ideally a collection of his short works but I would have been happy with one of his novels. I’ve read his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the novel that the movie Blade Runner was based on) and A Penultimate Truth, plus one or two of his short stories from books I checked out at the library years ago. So I wouldn’t say I’ve been well-read in Phillip K. Dick, though I’ve always dug his stories. They are trips. At least as far as concept goes. Most of his stories involve characters’ confusion between reality and fantasy (in many of his stories, such as Androids, that fantasy being virtual reality).

Well, what made me want to read more of his work three weeks ago was when I had watched a really neat documentary about him put out by BBC (although Dick himself was American). The documentary is called Philip K. Dick: A Day in the Afterlife. The more the documentary talked about how his everyday life and locale inspired his stories, a life in a world infested with consumerism (which the world continues to be today), the more I wanted to get my hands on more of his tales.

I had not imagined that Dick was that popular. I went to four different used-book stores in the area and could not find one copy of his work that I did not read yet. Finally, I said to myself that I would look at Beer’s and if I didn’t find any of his work there that I haven’t already read then I’m not going to find it anywhere in the area and so if that would be the case then I’d better just turn to Amazon.

Well, I found a 1970s paperback copy of his 1957 novel, Eye In the Sky, and a copy of We Can Remember It for You Whole Sale, Volume Five of the Collected Stories which was published by Orion Books. The latter includes the title story that the 1990 movie and last year’s remake were based on, Total Recall. The first movie I hated enough, and the second one even though the characterization looked better it seemed to drift a little too far from the original plot for me since none of it was set on Mars. But I thought the concept was far out and so that’s why I purchased that particular collection. I actually just read the story today and it was a hell of a lot better than the original movie, that’s for sure. 

I’ll give a review of "We Can Remember It" here in the next week or two. But, for now, I strongly recommend you check out the documentary below. If you’ve read any work by Philip K. Dick, the documentary will make you want to read more. If you haven’t read any of his work, the movie will make you want to read it. Watch it and then let me know in the box below what you thought.

Until next time . . .

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