Book Review: Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick
At the heart of nearly every story is paranoia and poor mental health. Perhaps I am a robot? Or perhaps there is a conspiracy against me? Or perhaps the aliens really have invaded? But… What if it is all in my mind?
Women – what little there are of them – are crude caricatures. The robots get better lines and more realistic motivations.
You have to remember that these are cheap pulp stories. Designed for manly-men who can’t go five minuteswithout a cigarette.
The stories are a mixed bag. Some high-concept sci-fi which have been butchered into equally pulpy films. Others – like Roog are just bizarre.
And yet, throughout, there’s a very definite sense of what the future will be. How was this man able to predict security fuzzing?
It’s a semantic garble—the factory won’t be able to understand it. Maybe we can jam the works
Or that TVs would be able to do facial recognition?
With a groan, Chienrose to his feet, bowed the mandatory bow of response; each TV set came equipped with monitoring devices to narrate to the Secpol , the Security Police , whether its owner was bowing and/or watching.
Every story is peppered with details like this. But, to my mind, it is " The Exit Door LeadsIn" which has the most predictive power in a few short pages. Going from the mundane nature of robots:
Biblemanhad to order lunch from robots, since vending ranked too low on the wage scale to attract humans.
To the total prevalence of loot boxes:
You want to buy into this week‘s contest while you’re waiting?
All the way through LLMs and automated commerce:
Bibleman‘s older brother had once fed a ten -word plot outline into a robot fiction machine, changed his mind as to the outcome, and found that the novel was already in print. He had had to program a sequel in order to make his correction.
Pick up a bunch of PKD stories – any collection will do – and gasp in wonder at his imagination.