Philip K. Dick – Electric Dreams
Dick was a science fiction writer probably best known for movie adaptations of his books, which include Minority Report, Blade Runner, and Total Recall. This collection of 10 short stories is intended to accompany a recent tv miniseries based on those stories, which I haven’t seen. Each story includes a brief introduction by its accompanying episode’s director or screenwriter.
This was the first Philip K. Dick book I read, and apparently he wrote almost entirely dystopian stories. There is little in the way of Star Trek-style optimism and progress in this collection. The settings range from present-day (for him, mid-20th century) suburbia to the distant future. Most of the stories are on Earth, but a few are set in space or on other planets. Even the more normal settings have something off about them, whether it’s family members or local neighbors being possessed or taken over by aliens, or surveillance states stamping out any traces of dissent or self-expression in a pleasant-seeming society.
Some of the stories reminded me of some of The Simpsons‘ classic “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes; perhaps Dick was an influence on their writers. I mainly read these stories before going to bed. Though I enjoyed them, in hindsight, this may have been a mistake.