Friday 29 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's YA / Adult Chapter Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th September 2017 - "Electric Dreams Volume 1" by Philip K. Dick (Gollancz)

We'll swiftly slap a "YA / Adult Only" label on our Chapter Book for this week, a delicious slice of hard-fi that will set your senses ablaze...
"Electric Dreams" is a collected anthology of Philip K. Dick's shorter tales. For those of you who've somehow managed to miss this amazingly prolific and talented Sci Fi writer's output, you'll surely know at least one of the movies that his stories have inspired.

"Blade Runner" or "Total Recall", "A Scanner Darkly" or "Minority Report" - a whole brace of hit movies have spawned off the back of Dick's stories.

This time though, it's time for TV to take over as Channel 4 produces a "Dark Mirror"-esque slice of science fiction extraordinaire in "Electric Dreams". The series is already airing on Channel 4, so if you've yet to catch up definitely give this book a try too.

The stories featured in this anthology are:

  • The Hanging Stranger
  • The Commuter 
  • The Father Thing
  • Exhibit Piece
  • Impossible Planet
  • Sales Pitch 
  • Foster, you're dead 
  • The Hood Maker
  • Holy Quarrel
  • If there was no Benny Cemoli
  • Autofac
  • Human Is

The anthology covers subjects as diverse as our relationship with technology, our obsession with space, and our fear of death - in a future that feels more 20 minutes than 20 years away with the march of technology and our exploration of the galaxy, our obsession with materialism and of course our ruination of the earth and our environment. 

The series is stunning, but getting back to Dick's writing as a lifelong fan of his novels "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" (which was filmed as Bladerunner of course) and "The Man in the High Castle" which presented a chilling alt-earth where Nazis won the second world war, was a real treat as most of his stories have not aged a jot - and most of the content herein is so bang on the nail for what's happening around the world at the moment that this revival just couldn't come along at a better time. 

It's fantastic to have an accompanying book to refer to as the series airs, comparing the differences between the show and the original stories themselves (for example, the vastly different televised version of "The Hood Maker" doesn't quite work as well as the original story, whereas the TV version of "Impossible Planet" is actually quite touching and bittersweet, just like the original story even though the ending is subtly altered). 

Needless to say this is grown up stuff, but kids who are into YA sci fi could definitely learn a thing or two by taking a look at the works of a true master and pioneer in the genre. 

Sizzlingly brilliant stuff!

"Electric Dreams" is out now, published by Gollancz (kindly supplied for review).