Total Recall by Philip K Dick

a review by Ant , in the genre(s) Science Fiction . Book published by Gollancz in August 2012

Total Recall the film has recently been re-made and updated from the 1990 version that featured Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger. This time Colin Farrell stars as Douglas Quiad, the man who dreams of walking on Mars. I was a big fan of the original but have yet to see this modern adaption so I can't comment on the differences however both films are "loosely" based on the Philip K Dick classic short story "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" which PKD originally wrote over 50 years ago, back in 1966.

It makes sense then that the good people at Gollancz have re-released this story as part of a collection together with some of the best short stories PKD ever dreamed of. There are some truly great treats for any fan of PKD (or any fan of Scifi for that matter) along with a moving introduction by Thomas M Disch who manages to describe the writing of PKD with a much greater degree of elucidation than I could ever achieve.

He also raises a very good point that PKD was a "writers" writer rather than a "readers" writer, he didn't write purely for commercial success but more because he HAD to write, it was a part of who he was and it was these ideas that were the real characters of his tales. It goes to show just how wonderful they were by the fact that more of his stories have been turned into films than any other author.

One of my favourite stories in the collection has to be "A Terran Odyssey" which describes a post-apocalyptic America that struggles to cope with a reduced infrastructure and lack of organised government. Another of note is the very first in the collection, "The Little Black Box" which provides a greater degree of detail about "Mercerism", a pseudo-religion which is centred around an "empathy box" while allows the user to experience the feelings of the religious figure head Wilbur Mercer. Anyone who's read the classic Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep will recognise this idea.

There is even "The story to end all stories" which was written for inclusion in Harlan Ellison's seminal anthology Dangerous Visions. There are 25 gems contained within the pages of this collection, each one pure PKD complete with grand ideas, cheesy characters and the occasional abrupt ending.

If you haven't got "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" then this is the perfect opportunity to own some classic shorts from one of the finest minds of the 20th Century.

Written on 17th September 2012 by .

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Total Recall, a novel by Philip K Dick

Book Details

  • Total Recall
  • Publisher: Gollancz
  • ISBN: 978-0575100299
  • Published:
  • Pages: 416
  • Format reviewed: Paperback
  • Review date: 17/09/2012
  • Language: English
  • Age Range: N/A