Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review - The Philip K Dick mega pack (JS)

The Philip K. Dick Mega pack by Philip K. Dick

Review by Jacqui Slaney

When I read science fiction exclusively, I found certain authors definitely more readable than others.

I was never fond of cold hard chunks of science loosely wrapped in a story, which when I  tried to read them always gave me a headache and left me scrabbling for the nearest reference book even when I was studying physics. These are the books that do put people off sci-fi, and when you tell them that this is what you read, you can see their eyes almost glaze over with boredom.  Too, be fair though, these books are in the minority and not reading sci-fi, means you are missing some excellent writers, of which Phillip K. Dick was definitely one.

Most people are only aware of his novels, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and ‘Minority Report’ or the films based on his books: Blade Runner and Total Recall. However, there are a vast number of short stories, of which this collection is just a small sample.

I admit that over the years I have read a lot of PKD  stories, but have over time, mislaid the books,(I harbour dark suspicions of my brother here) so when I saw how cheap this collection I purchased it without even considering that I might have read the whole thing before. I was pleased though when I actually looked at the titles to find that some of the stories were new to me.

As in any omnibus by any author, some stories are better and stronger than others. For example, The Variable Man, The Hanging Stranger and Beyond the Door are some of my personal favourites; I guarantee that after reading Beyond the Door, you will never look at cuckoo clocks quite the same again. These are also not long stories, so happily fit into travelling reading times.

The writing styles shows the concerns of people of the time, (early 1950’s) and illustrates the paranoia and genuine fear that people had  that they would be invaded, blown up etc and though some people complain that this makes the whole writing dated and old, I do not agree.

Though the theme behind the story might be from another era, it does not detract at all from the quality of the writing itself. As a would be writer myself, I would be more than happy to be able to create some of these characters and places that become real to you in just a few pages as some of these do.

Therefore, for those who have you who have been put off science fiction as you think it is dry and dusty stuff to read, or even for those who know this author, definitely give this collection a go, trust me, you will enjoy it.

9 out of 10