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Minority Report
Philip K. Dick
Gollancz hardcover £6.99

review by Christopher Geary

Equally the most admired and misunderstood writer in any genre of the postwar era, and often cited as a favourite SF author of SF authors themselves, Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was, on the evidence of his published work, very much a man ahead of his time. His stories have a timeless affect that sets his work apart from run-of-the-mill space operas and the scientifically accurate but often soulless writing of overeducated intellectuals. Of all the SF ever published, Dick has created the only body of work that deserves its own treasure chest, and genre fans never tire of re-reading his books.
   Back in 1987, Gollancz began collecting this author's short fiction into five volumes, starting with Beyond Lies The Wub, The Days Of Perky Pat, The Father-Thing, and Second Variety. Each volume had a new introduction by such discerning figures as Norman Spinrad, Roger Zelazny, and James Tiptree Jr, and these commentaries reiterated the unique appeal of Philip K. Dick - who arguably remains the most consistently original storyteller in all modern literature, and emphasised the qualities of his impressively audacious imagination for ready converts to Dick's SF. These stories are so compelling that it's very easy to get addicted, and Dick's superbly entertaining works are probably the most intriguing kind of mature SF available.
   The renewed interest in Dick's stories was, in part, a result of the belated success of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982), inspired by Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? When the final volume of Dick's collected stories, The Little Black Box, appeared in 1990 (with an introduction by Thomas M. Disch), it coincided with the release of Paul Verhoeven's feature film, Total Recall, based on Dick's story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Since then, a further three of Dick's stories have been turned into movies. In 1996, Dick's dystopian chiller Second Variety became bleak SF war drama Screamers, co-scripted by Dan O'Bannon. More recently, robot mystery Impostor (aka: Imposter), has made it to the screen as a low-budget thriller, and Dick's Minority Report - concerning the prediction of crime in the future, has become a summer blockbuster directed by Steven Spielberg, and has prompted this new reprinting of Dick's work.
   Although this new collection feels like it's just feeding off the Spielberg buzz, it does include all four of Dick's short stories that have been filmed, along with five others, and comes in undersized hardcover format for the price of a paperback, with a complimentary introduction by editor Malcolm Edwards. The so far un-filmed stories here are War Game (1959), a curiosity about exotic techno toys attaining a level of autonomy with military applications, What The Dead Men Say (1964), an ambitious satire about cryogenics and resurrection in the future, Oh, To Be A Blobel! (1964), an oddity with temporary mutant transformations resulting in some bizarre interplanetary career opportunities, The Electric Ant (1969), another of Dick's ingeniously constructed crisis-of-identity stories, and the classic Faith Of Our Fathers (1967), a political thriller about communism and brainwashing via TV.
   It is, undeniably, a shame that much of Dick's success and acclaim has arrived posthumously, but if more of his stories are optioned for the screen, it can only be a good thing for SF media in general to see his great imagination being let loose outside the world of books.
Minority Report by Philip K. Dick
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Minority Report


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