The 10 Best and Worst Philip K Dick Adaptations

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams—an anthology series consisting of ten standalone episodes based on Dick’s work—arrives in the U.S. later this week. In the meantime, join me as I turn my scanner, darkly, toward the films made from Philip K. Dick’s work and try to figure out which of them are quality movies and which actually have something in common with the source material. I’ll give each movie two letter grades: one for being a good or bad movie and one for being faithful to the source material. (Note: faithful doesn’t always mean just following the plot, but capturing the themes and essence as well.)

 

Blade Runner

Based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Movie Grade: A+
Faithfulness to Source Material: D+

The most famous Philip K. Dick adaptation is also widely considered to be the one of the best science fiction films ever ...

The 10 Best and Worst Philip K Dick Adaptations

Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams—an anthology series consisting of ten standalone episodes based on Dick’s work—arrives in the U.S. later this week. In the meantime, join me as I turn my scanner, darkly, toward the films made from Philip K. Dick’s work and try to figure out which of them are quality movies and which actually have something in common with the source material. I’ll give each movie two letter grades: one for being a good or bad movie and one for being faithful to the source material. (Note: faithful doesn’t always mean just following the plot, but capturing the themes and essence as well.)

 

Blade Runner

Based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Movie Grade: A+
Faithfulness to Source Material: D+

The most famous Philip K. Dick adaptation is also widely considered to be the one of the best science fiction films ever ...

Why Planet of the Apes Movies Will Always Blow Our Minds

If we had an infinite amount of apes banging on an infinite amount of typewriters, I think we can all agree, they’d eventually write every single Planet of the Apes movie, and then rise up and enslave us humans as their copy-editors, gaffers, and interns who get them coffee. Basically there’s no way any of us are ever going to get over the idea of talking apes, like, ever. But why? In the pop pantheon of all of science fiction, the notion of a world in which humans are second-class citizens to our very-close simian cousins is one of the best sci-fi ideas anyone has had. It’s as arresting now as it was when Pierre Boulle first published La Planète des singes, and still as gripping as when Charlton Heston pounded the sand in despair. And it’s because it’s all so simple. I’m of the opinion that watching any ...

Prometheus: Science Fiction or Religious Fiction?

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, the hero of the new epic Prometheus, wears a crucifix and believes in a higher power. She’s a great, likable character who I enjoyed seeing wield an ax. But she didn’t feel like a scientist to me, at least not in a science fictional kind of way. To say that the search for a higher power occupies the majority of the Prometheus narrative is no spoiler, as the promotional tagline for the film is “the search for our beginning could lead to our end.” And in that search for our beginning, Prometheus pulls a few revelatory punches, and in doing so makes aspects of the film’s thematic noise feel, at least on the surface, to be more religious fiction than science fiction. Tons of spoilers for Prometheus below. Now, after the movie’s release, screenwriter Damon Lindelof went on record saying Prometheus is not anti-science, and ...
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In Space, Sigourney is Too Cool to Scream: Why Alien Endures

Coming up with a more audacious title for a science fiction film than Alien would be tricky. Perhaps the only candidates are Science Fiction Film or Space: The Movie. From the earliest previews, the message of Alien was clear: all previous cinematic depictions of extraterrestrials are jokers and this Alien is the only alien, and yes, we only need one alien to convince you of that. But the reason this movie is so great isn’t because of the singular Alien, or even the iconic design of the monster. The real monster here is the brilliant unfolding of the narrative. Just when you think you know what the hell is going on, something pops out (literally) and changes everything. It’s nearly impossible to approach Alien without prior knowledge of it. Like The Wizard of Oz or Casablanca, there are certain things everyone knows without having seen it. They know Sigourney ...
Alien cast photo (1979)
Alien (1979)
Alien (1979)

The Fifty-Year Mission is the People’s History of Star Trek

The Fifty-Year Mission: The First 25 Years Star Trek oral history In 1967 when Gene Roddenberry was accused of personally organizing scores of protesting fans who physically demonstrated in front of NBC Studios to keep Star Trek on the air he said “That’s very flattering, because if I could start demonstrations around the country from this desk, I’d get the hell out of science fiction and into politics.” This quote is one of thousands found in the new book, The Fifty-Year Mission: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Trek: Volume One: The First 25 Years by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman. It’s the first volume of two, and like that Roddenberry quip; the entire text shines a bright light on the chasm between what you think you know about the history of Star Trek and what the history of Star Trek really was. I was 13 years old when Star Trek Generations came out in 1994. And ...
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Time-Slip on Your Tongue: Chatting With John Wray About The Lost Time Accidents

Wray-TimeAccidents As literary chimeras go, John Wray could be called a blend of all sorts of authors. Aspects of his novel Lowboy read as though Dickens teleported Oliver Twist from the 19th century onto a contemporary subway train. But, Wray is also a history junkie with an eye towards science fiction. Though his novel The Right Hand of Sleep isn’t science fiction, its title is a reference to The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of Wray’s idols. With his latest novel—The Lost Time Accidents—John Wray presents his unique cocktail of historical fiction blended with the science fiction tradition of time-slipping. For a writer who isn’t really writing science fiction, John Wray sure knows a lot about science fiction. I chatted with him recently about the inspirations for his latest book, how to write a multi-dimensional family saga and what Ursula K. Le Guin ...