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Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick On Film

Counterfeit Worlds: Philip K. Dick On Film CoverGiven that he's written more than 30 novels and numerous short stories it's surprising that the works of Philip K. Dick haven't been adapted more in Hollywood. Yet, from 1982s Blade Runner to the just released A Scanner Darkly there have only been 5 films based on the work of the celebrated science fiction author. In Counterfeit Worlds Brian J Robb examines Dick's career and the Hollywood system that the author was both inspired and repulsed by.

The early part of the book gives us a potted history of Dick (which, apart from writing, seemed to consist of lots of drugs and a penchant for getting married) and a very illuminating overview of his written works. Robb not only gives an intelligent account of many of the themes that occupied the work of Dick - loss of identity and paranoia amongst them - but also shows how Dick was almost desperate for some sort of recognition (far from having the name value that he has today, he was regarded as little more than a hack sci-fi author by literary circles). Throwing up some fascinating facts (did you know that Dick was eager to write an episode of 'Mission: Impossible'? Imagine how mind bending that episode would be...) this biography of Dick is the highlight of the book.

From there we go into an account of the genesis of Blade Runner. Undeniably a fascinating tale, from its inception and troubled history to it's first screening (sadly Dick died before he could see it), Robb covers everything in great details and - for those who don't know the story - it's a gripping read. But for those who've read seminal books on the film such as Future Noir: The Making Of Blade Runner by Paul M Sammon will find everything rather familiar. Similarly, as the book goes on, discussions on filsm such as Total Recall, Screamers and Paycheck seem to veer more towards re-heated press notes or notes from discussions from DVD extras. The serious - and more importantly productive - analysis of the films based on Dicks work and the countless themes and ideas that they throw up is sadly lacking . Admittedly it must be harder in the case of the lesser known films to bring out reams of information (Paycheck hardly set the box office alight) but it would have been nice if Robb had taken a more partisan stance with these films and - whilst far from approaching a rigorously academic approach - tried to encourage much more debate throughout the book.

Still, there are still plenty of things here that you will find hard pressed to find elsewhere including the discussion on short lived TV show ‘Total Recall 2070' and French film Confessions d'un Barjo based on Dick's autobiographical Confessions Of A Crap Artist. Die hard Dick fans may find that they've read this all before and feel a slight sense of deflation. But those who are just entering the counterfeit world mentioned in the title for the first time may find this a fascinating starting point.

PUBLISHER: Titan Books
ISBN: 1-84023-968-9
320 pages

 

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0 # Guest 2006-08-29 08:25
5 films? How do you figure? I count 9 of them:

1. Blade Runner
2. Total Recall
3. Barjo
4. Screamers
5. Impostor
6. Minority Report
7. Paycheck
8. A Scanner Darkly
9. Next (Sept 2007)
0 # Guest 2006-08-29 08:25
5 films? How do you figure? I count 9 of them:

1. Blade Runner
2. Total Recall
3. Barjo
4. Screamers
5. Impostor
6. Minority Report
7. Paycheck
8. A Scanner Darkly
9. Next (Sept 2007)
0 # Guest 2006-08-30 08:33
Of course, it was a deliberate atteempt to mirror Dick\'s questioning of information versus reality. OK, not really: it was because I completely messed up and counted wrong. D\'oh!
0 # Guest 2006-08-30 08:33
Of course, it was a deliberate atteempt to mirror Dick\'s questioning of information versus reality. OK, not really: it was because I completely messed up and counted wrong. D\'oh!