Minority Report – Philip K. Dick

Minority Report

So, I was in Fopp, having a browse, and what happens? Oh, I buy 4 books. Well done. Still, they were cheap, I got 4 for £10, which is pretty impressive considering today I spent £18 on two books from Waterstones. Then again, I did have book tokens, so really it was £8…but you get the idea.

Minority Report, once again, have read the book, haven’t seen the film. For those that are unfamiliar with the plot (oh, only me prior to reading it?), the blurb from the book says

“The Department of Precrime has cut major crime by only 100% How? By looking into the future, arresting potential criminals, sentencing them and punishing them – before they actually commit the crime. No one doubts the efficiency and fairness of the system, until Precrime Commissioner John Anderton finds himself accused. If he is to remain free, he must go on the run as a convicted murderer…”

Uh, guys, I don’t know if you (or Spielberg) noticed, but that is an amazing story-line, and the book was amazing. Although Dick, has a total thing for breasts (which is true on many levels, but let’s not go there). The female characters are all a bit stunted and under-deformed, which I am going to forgive him for, if only because the book is really good. The plot was a bit hard to follow at times, which is due to Dick’s prose, and appears to be common in his other books/short stories (there are more Dick reviews to come. Dick. Need to stop typing Dick.), but it is done in such a way, that I feel stupid, as though I just can’t keep up with him. Which I probably couldn’t, but that is another conversation for another day. Still, I was about 40 pages into a 290 page book and I was thinking, “How is he going to stretch this out for another 250 pages? It seems to be coming to an end?” Then it did come to an end, and it turns out the edition I bought had numerous additional short stories for me to peruse. Total score. So these stories were are follows:

Imposter – I think I was drunk when I read this, I vaguely remember it, but can’t really provide a plot summary. I am going to pillage Google, back shortly. Shit, apparently this was first published in ‘Astounding’ magazine, June 1953. I would subscribe to that. Here is the summary from Wikipedia:

Spence Olham, a member of a team designing an offensive weapon to destroy invading aliens known as the Outspacers, is confronted by a colleague and accused by security officer Major Peters of being an android impostor designed to sabotage Earth’s defenses. 

There are definitely some common themes running through this…

Second Variety – Which is along roughly the same lines as Bladerunner – who is the robot and who isn’t? But in a creepy war zone environment

War Game – This is from the perspective of a group of approvers/merchandisers. Toys are provided to them from beings on another planet, and they have to assess whether the toys are fit for release in their world or not. There is one toy, where you put on an outfit (in this case, a cowboy outfit), and you start to see the world as the character you are dressed as. It is very virtual reality, and a pretty cool concept for the 1950’s. Anyway, I really enjoyed this short story, and it had a very good Roald Dahlesque twist at the end, (or were Dahl’s twists Dickesque? Lol. That works on many levels. Dick. Again, must stop typing it.)

What the Dead Men Say – This one was really weird, basically, once you die, you are put in a kind of stasis, which allows you to be brought back to a kind of half life on occasion, which lets you live on for even longer. The character who has died, is a Kingpin in this world, a kind of gangster of sorts, and when he dies, they try to revive him, only they can’t. Instead, a voice starts coming from outside the galaxy that sounds like him, and then they are trying to figure out where the voice is coming from, how this will impact an upcoming election, who his inheritance should go to… Yea, it was really weird, and I am still not sure I understood it. Enjoyable though. Although there was a bit about a woman – who I think was a receptionist – who had her breasts out and painted blue for some reason. That is either this story, or another one, or possibly both. Dick was definitely a breast man.

Oh, to Be a Blobel! – Right, so there was a war between humans and Blobels. As part of this, undercover agents were sent to the Blobel world disguised as a Blobel. Except, this required a complete genetic overhaul, and on their return, post-war, they were provided with the cure to turn them back into full human. Except, it didn’t really work, instead they are human half the time and Blobel the other half. It opens with the guy discussing his mental health because of this change, his inability to meet someone because of his condition, and eventually he is matched with a female Blobel, who was a spy on their side, who has the same problem. This also has quite the twist at the end, you kind of see it coming, but the story is so well played and structured, it really doesn’t matter.

The Electric Ant – This one is very Blade Runner (I know that the film was based on ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, but the plot is quite different between the two), but ends up being really existential. It touches on what is consciousness, how it is formed, what is real, all through the eyes of a robotic man essentially.

Faith of Our Fathers – Similar to above, this is about the nature of reality, and the steps that Governments will take to ensure that we only see what they want us to see. It also considers the nature of bureaucracy, and what people will do to get the top – specifically in a civil service type setting. It involves drug taking (you don’t say!), and hallucinations. It seems to be a common theme in Dick’s books/stories.

We Can Remember it for You Wholesale – A quick comment on the capitalisation of certain words in the titles – I am following how they are presented in the book. I know they look weird. Sorry. OK, I can’t remember this one much either – let me skim read. Oh, yeah! This is the story that the film ‘Total Recall’ was based on. I think I have seen that film, but I don’t really remember it at all. So, there is a guy, who wants to live out his fantasy of being a secret agent that has gone to Mars, so he goes to a clinic which specialises in implanting these memories, so that he will think he has gone to Mars on a secret mission for the Government. But, while implanting the memories, the clinic realises that someone has already been in his brain to remove/replace memories, and they can tell it was a Government job, so they stop their work, decide not to tell him, and refund half the money back. The guy who wanted the implanted memories half remembers the mission, and goes back to get the rest of his money, and it all goes a bit metal from there. This story was so, so good. If you have seen the film you will know the plot, if you haven’t I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but you really should read it.

In fact, everyone should read more Philip K. Dick. Also, while examing the blurb on my book I found out that Colin Farrell was in the ‘Minority Report’ film. Therefore, I am going to need to watch this, he is my new man crush, even though I hate Tom Cruise. I also wasn’t that keen on Colin Farrell, until I listed to an interview with him on the ‘Nerdist’ podcast, and now I am totally in love with him. I don’t usually have a thing for accents, but on Farrell I really enjoy it. I also need to watch ‘The Lobster’, maybe I can pick up a cheap copy in Fopp and not buy more books…

Until next Sunday, when I will be writing about the book, ‘Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of The Sun King’ by Antonia Fraser.

Amy

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