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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
124
Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
Format: Hardcover|Change
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on March 22, 2017
I absolutely loved this anthology and I think that it represents PKD and his work very well. He has a way not only with words but to make you think differently and look outside the world as you know it. While some of his stories in this collection are better than others I can't say there was one bad story in the bunch.

He has a talent for creating worlds and writing characters that are engaging and fully fleshed out. This will be one book I will read more than once.
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on July 18, 2010
I might as well admit this at the beginning of the review: I am not generally a fan of short stories. I'm not making any sort of universal statement here so much as saying that I think the form tends to elevate shallow writing that is built around some sort of twist or reveal at the end. Bradbury is a bete noire of mine because of this very tendency, but he shares with many science fiction writers that genre's tendency toward writing about ideas instead of emotions or relationships, which has tended to turn a lot of people off of this particular genre as it can be difficult for a lot of people to connect with that approach. The genre does have its natural strengths: people are always interested in progress and the future, and moreso than many genres, sci-fi lends naturally to the exploration of social, political, and moral issues in its stories. I'm admittedly a huge sci-fi nut for those reasons, though I can understand why a lot of people are scared away.

It's those people, though, who would get the most out of Philip K. Dick. Dick falls into almost none of the pitfalls that I mentioned previously. His short stories are excellent examples of the form, with strong ideas and surprisingly rich themes to boot. Dick's work has obviously been adapted to the screen many times, and a good handful of stories from the book are recognizable from their film adaptations, but the original stories are frequently more interesting and more substantive than the feature films they inspired! So, the average-ish Ben Affleck thriller Paycheck turns out to have been inspired by a story not only about seeing the future, but also about commercial-government tensions and its character turns out to be an anti-hero, motivated by corporate greed. Minority Report was a more successful (and much better) film than Paycheck, and it too is vastly different from its film. The basic ideas (precogs, arresting murderers before they commit their crimes) but in the story, the protagonist has to stop a military coup in Washington (and it lacks the film's sappy ending, too, which is a plus). There are, of course, lots of cool stories here that have not been made into movies, like the post-apocalyptic "Second Variety", in which a few remnants of humanity have to fight against an army of rebellious androids that come in three varieties, as well as some of Dick's more trippy writing, like a story in which an elderly man is asked to become the "king of the dwarves" in their battle against the gnomes, in which it certainly seems like he's going crazy, but the story is told from his perspective and it leaves some ambiguity. It's scary, fascinating, sad, and brainy, but also a little funny in a darkly comic way: that's the Dick trademark, I suppose.

Most science fiction writers who become successful are good at coming up with nifty concepts and cool ideas, and Dick obviously has those, but even more impressive to me is the emotional component that Dick brings to his writing. This is a lot harder for me to deconstruct, but suffice it to say that Dick has that little extra something that turns a good story into a great one. When a story is supposed to be tragic, it almost always is. When the writing is supposed to be exciting, Dick pulls it off. His ability to define characters briefly and thoroughly certainly helps here, but Dick simply just knows how to engage the heart as well as the head, which is likely what has won him such an exalted place among science fiction writers over the years. That place is well-merited. I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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on February 20, 2015
Some real gems here. Took me a bit to get used to his writing style, which felt slightly dated and pulpy, but oh man! this guy had some imagination! SOme of the stories are incredibly good and even the more lightweight hava something interesting to mull over. Favs: Perky Pat (just so sad and so wonderfully absurd but somehow worrisomely plausible), Second Variety (terrifying premise), King of the Elves (took me right back to the 80s, watching The Twilight Zone on some late-night sindication), Upon the Dull Earth just mindblowingly cool and creepy, so many more. Dick's dark outlook on human nature, the futility of struggle, the every day grind, is seriously relevant in this day and age. Beyond the stories that have been (woefully) adapted to the screen here, there is a treasure trove of weird, wonderful, insane and yet very probable stories that will keep you reading.
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on April 26, 2013
This is an amazing short story collection for anyone, let alone the great Philip K. Dick. I've long enjoyed Mr. Dick's short stories and think he might have been a better short story writer than novelist. Among some of the gems in this collection are "The Minority Report" (made into a movie), "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (made into the film Total Recall), "I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon," Paycheck" (made into a movie), "Second Variety" (made into the film Screamers), and several others. I would, however, avoid "Roog," which I think was his earliest piece and in my opinion, the weakest of this collection. I also don't care for "The King of the Elves," but that's just me. It might appeal to others. This book is a must for any Philip K. Dick fan, and it's a great introduction into his writing style and themes. Strongly recommended.
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on August 28, 2011
As a lover if all things sci-fi, I had heard Philip K. Dick's name many times but I never got around to reading any of his material until this book. I hadn't realized how many of his short stories had been made into movies! Some were great movies, although there were a few that stunk *cough*Imposter*cough*. This of course was due to the screenwriters, not the source material.
Anyway, I'm reviewing the book, not the movies. The book itself was great. There's so many more of his stories that I think would make great movies or at least great episodes in a sci-fi Outer Limits kind of show (such as "Autofac"). His stories are both captivating and unique, while at the same time teaching a moral in one way or another. Although a lot of his themes seem commonplace in sci-fi today, the reader must keep in mind that a lot of these stories were written many years ago and that Dick was in fact the first author to put forth some of them. I'm not sure, but I think he was the first sci-fi author to talk about nanites.
I would suggest this books to anyone who loves sci-fi. If you buy it you will certainly not be disappointed.
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on October 19, 2013
This terrific collection demonstrates Dick's progression from a clever sci fi writer to one whose work is heavily influenced by speculations about reality, personality, time and the fickleness of all three. It is also interesting to see how stories that were the basis for films (The Minority Report, The Adjustment Team, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale) bear little resemblance to those films.

While Dick's stories are entertaining, what really keeps bringing me back to his work is the challenge of figuring out what is going on in the mind of this author. Much of his life and many of his neuroses leak into his work; more so as his career progresses.
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on March 28, 2018
A collection of must-read stories by Philip K. Dick. If you are getting to know PKD or are already a fan, this volume is excellent. The forward is marvelous as well.
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on January 21, 2015
I mostly know of Phillip K. Dick's oeuvre from the items that were made into movies. As is to be expected the written originals are better. There are thought provoking themes repeated across these stories. There is enough variety to avoid the pitfall of say H. P. Lovecraft's one-trick-pony work. I know Lovecraft is horror while P. K. Dick is science fiction. When P. K. D. explores a theme ( say time travel) he successfully changes the perspective to keep things interesting and fresh. You will be rewarded for your investment in time in reading these stories.
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on August 23, 2017
a fine collection of stories from this sci fi master. includes stories that provided the basis for such movies as "minority report" and "total recall". a must for fans of the author and the genre.
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on September 24, 2017
Classic stories here such as Minority Report and Total Recall and many more that have been the basis of so many other stories and movies. This is the original!
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