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Philip K. Dick Books And Movies

Movies Based On Philip K. Dick’s Novels

Do Androids Deam Of Electric SheepPhilip K. Dick is one of my favourite authors; I enjoy his writing a great deal – although some of his imagined futures are definitely beyond dystopian. I have read and re-read all of his books. I have listened to quite a few in audio book format and, needless to say, I have watched a number of movies which were inspired by Dick’s writing.

I find it fascinating that so much of Dick’s work has been transferred onto the silver screen – and equally interesting that the majority of the movies based on Dick’s writing have no more than a loose relationship to the original writing.

The most famous example must be Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, which is (loosely in my opinion) based on Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”.  “Total Recall” and “Minority Report” will also be instantly recognizable to even the most infrequent movie goer.

Here’s a partial list of movies which have been inspired by Dick’s work. I think that there may be one or two others – and Blade Runner has been remade.

  • Blade Runner
  • Total Recall
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Minority Report
  • Paycheck
  • Next
  • Screamers
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • Impostor

I think it would be almost redundant to say that I enjoyed “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” more than “Blade Runner”. As someone who enjoys reading, I have very rarely seen a film that I thought was better than the book. That’s just the way it is, I love reading, therefore I like books better than movies – QED.

However, I can say that I enjoyed both the book and the movie immensely – but for different reasons. The book and the movie are very different animals. The main plot, tough, hard bitten bounty hunter, Rick Decker, hunts androids in post apocalyptic San Francisco, is still there in the movie, but many of the sub-plots found in the book are omitted.

Which is not to say that it isn’t a great movie – it is. One of the best in fact, it’s just very, very different to the book.

As a matter of fact, director Ridley Scott has been quoted as saying that he had never read Dick’s novel at the time the movie was made (maybe he has now). That may or may not be true, but it is certainly believable.

On the other hand, Philip K. Dick, speaking on the environment created by Scott for the movie, declared that it was “exactly as how I’d imagined it!”.

In summary, the movie is great and the book is great. However, if you think that you are familiar with “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” because you have seen “Blade Runner”, you’re not. It would be well worth your while to get yourself a copy and read it.

Minority Report by Philip K DickIn a similar vein, the movie “Minority Report”, starring Tom Cruise is very different to the short story which inspired it. Once again, it’s a good movie, if not in the “Blade Runner” category perhaps, but it’s markedly different to Dick’s original vision.

It’s actually easier to see why this one altered though, Cruise is much younger than the original protagonist in Dick’s story. There’s a lot more action in the movie version, also for obvious reasons I think.

In short, movies and books are different – and movies based on Philp K. Dick’s works are usually very different to the original source. Philip K. Dick is always worth a read – and if your acquaintance with his work is based on movies, you may be pleasantly surprised at the added depth which you will find.


Do Some Books Work Better In Print?

Making The Switch To An E-Reader And E-Books

kindle voyage ereaderIt’s over five years now since I got my first e-reader. I’ve always been a keen reader, so when e-readers first came on the scene, I was very eager to get one.

Unfortunately, as I live in the UK, I had to wait a little while before I could get a Kindle 2.0 shipped over from Amazon in the USA, but it was well worth the wait.

Like many bookworms, I did worry a little about whether or not I would miss a”real” book and how good the e-reader experience would be. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The e-ink display on my Kindle 2.0 was great to read on. Page turns were fast and the battery life was great, much better than a notebook or tablet computer.

It was easy to operate with one hand and small and light enough to make packing for business trips a lot easier than when I usually had to try and fit two or three chunky paperbacks into my hand luggage.

My Kindle quickly became my favourite gadget and, in a very short period of time, I was reading e-books almost exclusively. The idea of wrestling with a big chunky paperback seemed cumbersome and outdated to me.

However, I know that not everyone will agree. Some people say that they would miss the feel of a physical book, some even think that they would miss the smell of a book. Each to his own, and there are definitely some books which work best in physical format.

As mentioned, I am almost exclusively using e-books these days, but I did recently purchase a recipe book for my halogen oven in printed format. The colour format of most recipe books doesn’t really lend itself to consumption using an e-reader. I did consider using a tablet computer, and I think that would have worked fine, but the thought of my tablet getting splashed with water and sprinkled with flour was enough to make go for the printed option.

I could imagine some DIY books, or maybe auto repair manuals being better suited to print than digital medium. Apart from that, most of the books that I read tend to work just fine in e-book format.

There was a period where I used to read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels in paper format. The “problem” was that Sir Terry makes extensive use of footnotes in his novels. My original Kindle 2.0 could cope with footnotes – but not very well.

It was a bit fiddly positioning the cursor over the footnote, clicking to go to a separate footnote page for the chapter and then navigating back to where you left off. Quite often, I would wind up in a different part of the book to where I left. That may well have been operator error of course, but it was a little frustrating. Sometimes, even when I did manage to get back to the correct location, I had lost the thread of what I was reading – so Discworld novels were consumed in printed format for a time.

However, e-readers have improved immensely over the years. Modern readers mainly have touch screens now, so they cope with footnotes with ease. Tap the footnote and a separate window pops up. tap the close icon and it disappears, leaving you exactly where you were before you read the footnote. Couldn’t be easier really.

As a result, I have even switched to reading Terry Pratchett in e-book format. My reading habit is, one recipe book in five years aside, almost entirely digital these days.

And, just in case you’re unfamiliar with Terry Pratchett and his Discworld series, here’s a short introduction:

People Don’t Read Anymore!

kindle paperwhiteI often hear people saying things like “Nobody reads anymore”, or “People don’t read enough these days”. Of course, everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I don’t really agree with that.

I do think that some people feel that we don’t read enough books these days – by which I mean printed books. I think that it’s probably true that we read fewer books, mainly because e-books and e-readers are so popular these days. People also use their computers, tablets and smartphones to read on.

To some people, this is a bad thing. I have friends who bemoan the advent of e-books and talk about how much they would miss the feel of a book, and even the smell of a book. Personally I have no such regrets. I switched to e-readers at the earliest opportunity and I don’t regret it for a moment.

I used to travel a great deal and trying to stuff two or three chunky paperbacks into my carry-on luggage was always a chore that I could do without – not to mention worry about my bag being weighed. Moving to an e-reader meant that I could carry thousands of books with me in a device which takes up less room, and weighs less, than a slim paperback novel.

Apart from the size and weight benefits, e-readers are great because of their e-ink technology screens. These are much better for reading on than color LCD computer screens. They use black and white pigmented chips to form the text rather than a combination of red, green and blue pixels. As a result, text is much crisper and clearer.

E-ink displays are not back-lit either. I hate reading for too long on a back-lit computer screen. It’s like reading with a light shining in your eyes. You don’t get that with e-readers.

Apple ipad tablet computerI do know some people who read a lot on their tablets, or even their smartphones, but I prefer my ereader best. It’s every bit as good as reading text printed on paper – better if you consider that you can change the font style and size if you want to (handy if you forget your reading glasses).

The e-ink display only needs to use power when the display is being refreshed. That’s why e-readers can go for weeks between battery charges. There’s no danger of running out of power just when you’re at a gripping point in your novel. You won’t even need to take your charging cable with you for shorter trips.

At the end of the day, reading is a very personal pleasure. Different people like different authors and genres – and these days we have more choice than ever as to how we read our favorite books. There isn’t a right and wrong answer; it really comes down to personal preference. However, it’s good to have a choice.

Speaking for myself, I prefer e-books and readers these days – but I would definitely read printed books if I had to. For that matter, I would read the back of a cereal packet if I had nothing else to read.

The thing is, that doesn’t happen anymore. As long as I have my e-reader I can carry my own personal library with me wherever I go. If I do run out of reading material (unlikely, but let’s pretend), it’s easy to choose and download a new e-book. You can do it in a matter of minutes, as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection of course – but Wi-Fi is pretty ubiquitous these days.

If you prefer “real” books, then good luck to you – however, the advantages of e-books and e-readers are numerous and well worth investigating. Here’s a quick recap:

  • Small and lightweight.
  • Great display for reading – every bit as good as reading text on paper.
  • No eye strain and easy to read in sunlight.
  • Lighted screens available for reading in dimly lit rooms.
  • Long battery life.
  • Carry thousands of books with you wherever you go.
  • Choose and download new books in a matter of minutes.
  • Find lots of free, out-of-copyright books on Amazon, Project Gutenberg and other sites.
  • Read self published novels by authors you would never have heard of before e-readers made publishing so much easier.