Science Fiction Fantasy  
Go Back   Science Fiction Fantasy Chronicles: forums > Books and Writing > Authors > Phillip K Dick

Phillip K Dick Discussions on the books and writings of Phillip K Dick.

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old 3rd July 2008, 11:59 PM   #31 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Connavar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 8,116
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post
The Man Who Japed is one I haven't read, but my webmate loved it and reviewed it:

http://www.genrebusters.com/print/re...anwhojaped.htm

My favorite of his early work is Time out of Joint.

I may be one of the only Dickheads who isn't in love with The Man in the High Castle. That this was his only Hugo winning novel I find very, very strange, as I wouldn't even rank it in my top 20.
Which is why Hugo is not highly rated award by me. If they couldnt see the genius of PKD who can trust their taste !

Time Out of Joint i saw in New Worlds anthologies. I might get it there with other New Wave writers.
Connavar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 4th July 2008, 12:17 PM   #32 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Fried Egg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Devon
Posts: 3,021
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Well, I've gone and taken advantage of the 3 for 2 offer on PKD at our local Waterstones and I've gone for The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, UBIK and The Penultimate Truth. I thought I'd take D Davis' top two recommendations but stick with my intuition and try the lambasted "Penultimate Truth" just because I like the sound of it and, afterall, how bad can it be? It's in the SF masterworks series and others have rated it highly so I'll make up my own mind.
Fried Egg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th July 2008, 03:58 PM   #33 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Connavar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Sweden
Posts: 8,116
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

For me it is only two new PKD for now. Since i ordered Dr Bloodmoney and The Man who Japed.

I could afford only two brand new PKD this month since i ordered Heinleins first Juvie and I, Robot too.
Connavar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 7th July 2008, 04:37 PM   #34 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
D_Davis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,349
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

A Scanner Darkly (a combination book/film review)

Philip K. Dick once said that real paranoia is not just thinking that everyone is out to get you, but that everything is out to get you. Yes everything, from your mailman to your friends, from your television to your toaster – this is how a truly paranoid person lives, and in many ways, this is how Dick lived much of his life. Dick, ever the jester and target of his own pranks, the butt of his own jokes - Dick the rat they used to call him - lived a life of self-inflicted near-insanity and confusion, never trusting himself, his loved ones or his so-called friends, let alone his very possessions. Prescription drugs and addicted peers helped pave the road he traveled towards suspicion and obsession, contempt and depression. However, even though he lived a life enveloped by the drug culture, he did not exalt the lifestyle like some hippy-dippy acid guru such as Timothy Leary – if anything, he spoke out in opposition to drugs, and used his life as en example of what could happen as he saw his friends fall, one by one, to the evils of narcotics.

A Scanner Darkly is the story based on Dick’s experiences with drugs, and it is perhaps his most personal work – the last portion of the book is dedicated to the many friends he lost because of drugs, and he includes himself on the list as a casualty of the war fought in a society controlled by poisonous substances. In this world, there is not a war on drugs, but a war on drug users: they are the assailants and the victims, the spies and the subjects, and the pawns in a game played by the government, law enforcement, and nefarious corporations.

It is going to be hard for me to separate my total adoration for Philip K. Dick the author, and his book A Scanner Darkly, from my criticism of the film. A Scanner Darkly is one of the only books I have read more than a handful of times, and I consider it to be one of the best books I have ever read. I don’t just read PKD – I study him, his work, his ideas, his words and his themes. His prose sucks me in like no other, and I often find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with his characters as they begin to peel away the shifting layers of reality only to discover more layers and a deeper conspiracy.
Where most stories end, “the big reveal” you might say, Dick’s stories begin. His narratives are never concerned with a simple sleight of hand, or a single layer of non-truth – they are never as black and white as The Matrix. No, Dick’s stories are like onions, only the more layers peeled away the bigger the onion becomes. And ultimately, his books are about real human characters caught in the turmoil of situations totally beyond their control and reasoning - their realities exist just out of reach, lurking ghost-like behind the next shadow.

When I first heard that Linklater would be helming Scanner, I believed the film would be in good hands. Up until now, Linklater’s A Waking Life was, in regards to theme, the closest thing to a truly Phildickian film we’ve had. I then heard that the film would be made using a new breakthrough in Rotoscoping to create the imagery, and again I thought the decision was a brilliant one - to depict Dick’s hyper-realistic world through animation may be the only way to do it justice.
Dick’s books are never really “dark,” nor are they overly gritty, his worlds are much like our own, only slightly removed. His narratives are full of colorful settings, and vibrant characters, and as the images from the film started leaking onto the Internet I smiled with uncontrollable glee. There is something hauntingly ironic about Dick’s world being hyped-up online and created with real actors who are then manipulated by a computer - an irony that I am sure is not lost on good old Phil wherever he may be.

A Scanner Darkly is without a doubt the most faithful adaptation of Dick’s work ever filmed. In terms of tone and atmosphere, and of theme and character, Linklater and company hammered the proverbial nail on the head. PKD’s energy and creative prose ooze from every inch of the screen while the cast delivers spot-on representations of the characters lifted from the pages of the book. Scanner is simply a story about characters – the narrative is not action packed, and all of the tension and drama is derived from the personalities of the characters. The narrative’s focus is on the interaction between the characters, and how they relate to one another, detailing how each follows their own path towards self-destruction.

Keanu Reeves plays a perfectly confused Fred/Bob Arctor – the undercover drug dealer who suffers a complete mental breakdown because of the heinous side effects of Substance D, a new designer drug. Reeves plays the part without a need for much of a stretch, his dry and somewhat apathetic personality perfectly matches that of his on screen persona.
Backing him up is Winona Ryder, who, as Donna, a coked-out woman afraid of physical contact, plays Fred/Bob like a cheap piano. Among the other supporting characters is Woody Harrelson, who turns in a somewhat exaggerated performance (easily the worst of the bunch) as Luckman, and Rory Cochran as the schizophrenic Charles Freck, whose performance is delivered with twitch-like precision. However, amongst all of these actors, Robert Downey Jr.’s performance, as James Barris, is the stand out aspect of the entire film (no surprise here).

Downey, quite simply, is James Barris - it’s as if he was born to play this part. Or perhaps by some strange universal anomaly, PKD was able to see into the future and wrote the part with Downey specifically in mind, as the two seem to occupy the same mind and body. His mumbled and deadpan delivery offer up many of the film’s funniest moments – deliberating as to the whereabouts of his bicycle’s missing gears is a great example – and Downey’s performance also provides one of the saddest moments in the film. As Barris watches with superhuman-apathy while his friend dies on a kitchen floor, it is Downey’s great presence that exemplifies the devil’s own selfishness present in the character - a trait that motivates the characters and steers the narrative of the film along until it reaches its browbeaten conclusion.

A Scanner Darkly is not a film that glorifies drug use, or tries to bestow sympathy upon its characters. These players are volunteers in the war they are fighting, and in this war they know the outcome – they are all losers, there is no hope. The film expertly captures this tone. Even while the banter and verbal melee transpires between the characters, it is easy to see the sadness in their eyes, and the sadness made all the more tragic by their dire surroundings.
This tone and atmosphere is complemented by the bright colors and otherworldly feel made possible because of the finely crafted animation used to bring the world to life. While it would have been much easier to present the narrative using traditional live action footage, with a dark and grainy look to conjure the tone, Linklater and Richard Gordoa (director of animation) chose instead to represent the world with surreal images to create a state of hyper-realism coupled with nightmarish visions and dream-like surroundings.

However, not everything here can easily be defined as dream-like. Although the film is a true and wonderfully made adaptation of an amazing book, the question still remains: is it a good movie? This question is hard to answer, and I am afraid the inevitable answer is even harder for me to give.
As a film, and not an adaptation, I felt that there were too many moments that seemed to exist as little episodes without a connection to the overall narrative. Linklater deftly extracted the “best” bits and peices from PKD’s narrative, but he failed to connect many of these moments with a thread of cohesiveness. All too often I wondered if I would be enjoying the experience nearly as much if I had not already devoured every last word of prose from the book. Realistically I cannot answer this question, but I can make an educated guess and say, “no, I would not.”

Yes, I do believe there are many moments of brilliance scattered throughout this film, and the good does far outweigh the bad. However, these moments are just that – moments. Had Linklater worked on his script just a bit more and focused on the transitions between the great set pieces, we would have had a real winner – an awesome adaptation and an equally amazing film. We are, however, left with a mixed bag, a bag that is full of more positive than negative.
As an unwavering admirer of PKD, and of A Scanner Darkly, I was utterly blown away by the film, but my emotions were tainted with hindsight and a desire to see a truly great PKD adaptation on the silver screen. This side of my brain, the PKD hemisphere, is pleased beyond belief – I went in with high expectations, and left thoroughly satisfied. However, the other side of me easily realizes that as a stand alone film the experience could have been more cohesive and more engaging, with more attention paid to the transitions and not just to the individual moments.

I like to think that in some other dimension, in some other universe, Phil Dick is quietly smiling, saying to himself, “Someone finally got it right; they finally captured my prose on screen.” God knows that filmmakers have been trying, with various degrees of success and failure, to bring a truly Phildickian world to the silver screen for quite some time. I am thankful that Linklater finally did so with my personal favorite Dick work, and that everyone involved obviously had a great deal of respect for the original volume.
D_Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th July 2008, 09:49 AM   #35 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Fried Egg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Devon
Posts: 3,021
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Well, I've just finished "Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" and I'm still reeling from the mind boggling concepts touched upon in this book. Definitely one I will have to re-read at some point to more fully absorb.
Fried Egg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th July 2008, 04:43 PM   #36 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
D_Davis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,349
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
Well, I've just finished "Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" and I'm still reeling from the mind boggling concepts touched upon in this book. Definitely one I will have to re-read at some point to more fully absorb.
Totally. I've read it twice, and I definitely want to read it again.

Did you like it, or is it too early to tell?

I do think it is one of Dick's most interesting and well written novels.
D_Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15th July 2008, 08:12 PM   #37 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Fried Egg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Devon
Posts: 3,021
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

I like it but the implications are still sinking in. Interesting it most definitely is.
Fried Egg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 09:54 AM   #38 (permalink)
Double-stuff Oreos!
 
woodsman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Kent
Posts: 896
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Would it be a good place to start? I've been looking at reading Dick for a while now but can never make my mind up about which one to try.

Advice/comments appreciated.

Oh, why doesn't he have his own forum on here?
woodsman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 10:35 AM   #39 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Fried Egg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Devon
Posts: 3,021
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

I've only read two PKD novels so I don't really know where a good place to start is.

As for PKD having his own sub-forum; an author only gets that when there's been enough threads specifically on that author to justify having a dedicated forum.
Fried Egg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 03:13 PM   #40 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
D_Davis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,349
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodsman View Post
Oh, why doesn't he have his own forum on here?
I know - it's insane. I am constantly shocked at who, and who does not, have their own sub-forums. Very few (any?) new wave SF authors do, and it tends to be more fantasy. I think it's just the climate of the forum.

I could easily post a review for each PKD book I've read in a separate thread, but that would be silly.

A good place to start, eh?

I've been posting reviews in this thread, so you could read them and pick something that sounds interesting.

A few posts ago, I posted a rough, off the top of my head, top 10 - any of these are worth your time.

Quote:
1. The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch - this is my favorite PKD book
2. UBIK
3. A Scanner Darkly
4. Martian Time Slip
5. Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said
6. The Divine Invasion
7. VALIS
8. Galactic Pot Healer
9. Dr. Bloodmoney
10. Time out of Joint
I started with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in the '80s after seeing Bladerunner, and then read A Scanner Darkly next.


What do you want: more traditional, or more experimental narratives?
D_Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 04:32 PM   #41 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
Fried Egg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Devon
Posts: 3,021
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

D Davis, this is probably not the place to discuss it but, are you not a fan of fantasy then?
Fried Egg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 05:01 PM   #42 (permalink)
Double-stuff Oreos!
 
woodsman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Kent
Posts: 896
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by D_Davis View Post

What do you want: more traditional, or more experimental narratives?
Something more experimental I think, broaden the horizons.

Surely if there was a forum more people would post about minor/smaller queries/thoughts. Oh well. I mean Rowling gets one???
woodsman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 05:03 PM   #43 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
D_Davis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,349
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fried Egg View Post
D Davis, this is probably not the place to discuss it but, are you not a fan of fantasy then?
Oh no, I like some. Not a lot, very little actually, but the stuff I do like I really, really like. The Elric saga, for instance, is among my most cherished series of novels. And of course there is the more weird stuff like Smith and Lovecraft - not really "fantasy," but not SF either.

I don't read much fantasy any more, simply because I don't get anything out of it. Fantasy rarely makes me stop and think about stuff, which is why I love good SF like Dick, Bester, Ballard, Sturgeon, and so on. I read a lot of fantasy in high school, but I feel like I've kind of out grown it.

But of course there is stuff like Last Dragon, which totally blew me away and really set a new standard for fantasy.

My main problem with fantasy is the length of the books and how they seem to always be part of a series. Just hit me with a solid, smart, and thought provoking, single volume narrative. If I am going to devote my time to something, I want it to be something that I get some mental stimulation out of, and more often than not I find these qualities in SF, not F.

But I don't disparage (much!) the fantasy, it just seems like the climate of this board is, in general, more in tune with authors like Jordan and Martin, and not so much with authors like Dick and Ballard. Which makes sense - the climate here is more in tune with the general climate of the SFF sections at most book stores.

Just an observation, not a judgment call.
D_Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 05:05 PM   #44 (permalink)
Senior Member
 
D_Davis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,349
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Quote:
Originally Posted by woodsman View Post
I mean Rowling gets one???
Yeah - don't remind me. Having a sub-forum is not a measure of greatness, just of popularity here. It makes sense.

If you are looking for something more experimental, or at least more mind-altering, I suggest any of these as a good starting point (in general, you want to read more post 1964 stuff):

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
A Scanner Darkly
Martian Time Slip
The Divine Invasion
VALIS
D_Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16th July 2008, 05:11 PM   #45 (permalink)
Double-stuff Oreos!
 
woodsman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Kent
Posts: 896
Blog Entries: 1
Re: Philip K. Dick - the novels

Thanks a lot. Will look into those.

At least (IMHO) Le Guin has a sub-forum, although it's under-populated. in fact I became interested in Dick because several people said he was similar to Le Guin who has produced some amazing work.
woodsman is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:27 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2 ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.