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The Philip K. Dick Reader Paperback – April 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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His religions, psychoses, divorces, and drug use aside, Philip K. Dick changed the face of American science fiction with his mind-bending writing. There may be readers who have only heard of him as the mind behind Blade Runner (based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). But even casual PKD fans should take a look at these 24 short stories, among them, "Second Variety," from which the movie Screamers was made, and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale," basis of the Schwarzenegger film Total Recall. Other standouts include "The Turning Wheel," "The Last of the Masters," "Tony and the Beetles," and "The Minority Report." Readers will recognize PKD's trademark themes: capitalism and the American dream run amok, a disquieting loss of ability to distinguish friends from enemies, and humans versus machines.

Since Philip K. Dick's heyday, and thanks in large part to his influence, the contemporary science fiction short story has evolved into a form more self-reflective and psychologically complex. This is a wonderful development, to be sure. But don't regard the older stories in this collection as dated. Instead, enjoy the peppery punch: PKD's stories provide plenty of plot twists and surprise endings. --Bonnie Bouman


“Philip K. Dick is awe-inspiring.”
The Washington Post

“More than anyone else in the field, Mr. Dick really puts you inside people’s minds.”
The Wall Street Journal --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 410 pages
  • Publisher: Citadel (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806518561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806518565
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #72,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Just to clear up some confusion here, The Philip K. Dick Reader is NOT the paperback edition of Selected Stories. These are the stories featured in The Reader:
Fair Game; The Hanging Stranger; The Eyes have it; The Golden Man; The Turning Wheel; The Last of the Masters; The Father-Thing; Strange Eden; Tony and the Beetles; Null-O; To Serve the Master; Exhibit Piece; The Crawlers; Sales Pitch; Shell Game; Upon the Dull Earth; Foster, you're dead; Pay for the Printer; War Veteran; The Chromium Fence; We can remember it for you wholesale; The Minority Report; Paycheck; Second Variety.
These are the stories featured in Selected Stories:
Beyond lies the Wub; Roog; Paycheck; Second Variety; Imposter; The King of the Elves; Adjustment Team; Foster, you're dead; Upon the dull Earth; Autofac; The Minority Report; The days of Perky Pat; Precious Artifact; A game of unchance; We can remember it for you wholesale; Faith of our Fathers; The electric ant; A little something for us Tempunauts; The exit door leads in; Rautavaara's Case; I hope I shall arrive soon.
For those not familiar with the stories, I'd probably give the nod to The Reader, although serious fans will want both despite all of the overlap. For those entirely new to Philip K. Dick, I'd recommend one of the short story collections before any of the novels. Dick is a rather peculiar writer, and his short stories are more accessible than the longer stories, I think. Also, if you're only familiar with the author as the source for "Total Recall" and the movie version of "Minority Report," both of these collections have the original stories. Dick's short stories tend to read like original "Twilight Zone" episodes, often with "punch-line" endings.
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Format: Paperback
A number of Philip K. Dick's works have been made into motion pictures, most notably "Blade Runner", "Total Recall", and "Minority Report". However, the greatest PKD moment exists in a film called "The Matrix", not written by the author but a movie which most certainly derives inspiration from his works. In it, the character Morpheous offers a choice to the protagonist Neo - a return to blissful ignorance or revelation of the Matrix, seen by Neo and other restless computer acolytes as a digital enigma that requires uncovering. Neo chooses to learn about the Matrix, for such knowledge represents a tangible victory of his many pursuits. Before taking that step, Morpheous ominously forewarns "Remember, I am only offering you the truth". Neo gets his victory, but in a way and with a result he never could have imagined. This sequence is pure Philip K. Dick.
No other author has ever made victory seem quite so inconsequential. Although not as well-publicized and recognized a name in 20th century science fiction as Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, or Arthur Clarke, the works of Philip K. Dick resound more strongly with each passing year. Dick seems to possess a talent for prognosticating humanity's collected Pandora's boxes in the same way Jules Verne was able to foretell the coming accomplishments of the 20th century. As an author whose primary body of work came in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, many of Dick's clever assumptions about mankind's stride into the future are already coming due in today's society. What were once cautionary tales now read as bitter satires on mankind's most irresponsible impulses.
A trademark of Dick is that his protagonists are almost always clever and resourceful enough to win the day over whatever problems they face.
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Format: Paperback
The PKD reader is an excellent introduction to this seminal SF author's short fiction. Most all of his major pieces are here, as well as some enjoyable underrated works. Mr. Dick's greatness is shown here by the stories in this volume. Also, there are four (at least) movies or potential movies made from the stories here. It's not uncommon for an SF novel to be made into a movie, but a short story is something else again. And yet, from the wonderful "We Can Remember It For You, Wholesale" (a classic Dick story) the classic SF film Total Recall was made; likewise for Screamers from "Second Variety. Steven Spielberg is currently filming "The Minority Report" with Tom Cruise. "Paycheck" has been optioned. All four of these stories are excellent, top-notch science fiction. "Minority", in particular, is awesome, and stands as one of my all-time favorite pieces of short SF. One can also see, during the course of reading this book, just how much Philip K. Dick grew as a writer during his career. Early stories featured here such as "Fair Game" and "The Hanging Stranger" while certainly good, have a VERY pulp-ish feel. This is offset by wonderful later stories such as the one mentioned, and other such as "The Father-Thing", "The Last of The Masters", and "War Veteran." Dick's writing style is compelling, fast-paced, readable, and thought-provoking, and you can see why he is held in such high regard by fans and critics alike. These are some of the best SF shorts written since the likes of Heinlein and Clarke ruled the roost. It's sad that he only started receiving real recognition after his untimely death in 1982 (just before Blade Runner was released. Pick up this book, and see why it has been said that "100 years from now, Philip K. Dick may be looked back upon as the greatest writer of the second half of the 20th century."
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