Friday, September 15, 2017

The endless adaptability of Philip K Dick

by David Barnett


September 15, 2017

With the Channel 4 series of dramas based on his short stories starting, Philip K Dick has cemented his reputation as one of the most adapted science fiction authors of the modern age.

The most famous big-screen outing of recent years was Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, released in 1982, the year the author died. But there has also been Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (and its 2012 remake); Minority Report (2002), with Tom Cruise; the Richard Linklater “rotoscoped” version of A Scanner Darkly, which overlayed animation on live-action footage of Keanu Reeves; and 2011’s The Adjustment Bureau.

PKD, as he’s usually known, most recently came to prominence thanks to the Amazon TV series based on his 1962 alternative history novel The Man in the High Castle, which posited an America controlled by the Nazis on the east coast and the Japanese on the west after the second world war.

Electric Dreams, the 10-part Channel 4 series, features adaptations of PKD’s short stories, each with a different screenwriter. The contemporary appeal is obvious. His stories often deal with themes of corporate greed, authoritarian control, artificial intelligence, drugs and how technology can be used to both elevate and subdue individuals and populations.


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