Wednesday, October 26, 2016
On "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick (ca. 9000 words) ***
Made into the movie Total Recall twice now, the original story features aspects that are picked up in both films but goes in a different direction by its end. The opening of the story is somewhat similar to those films: a man leading a humdrum life discovers that he was once a secret agent. In this case, he was an agent on Mars, though of course, that is the very memory he's gone to Rekal Inc. to have implanted as a means of escaping his humdrum life--to fulfill his dream of going to Mars. From there, the story becomes a trip. Is the memory real or implanted? And now that his life has been changed--or returned to what it was?--how does he solve the problem that he is supposed to have lost this secret agent identity? The story has a number of great themes, but it feels forced in terms of the quickness with which it is told. The dialogue serves the plot more than the character. The tale feels as if it need to the breathing space of a novel. But Dick here is writing pulp, and it serves that purpose well. Just as it served well as the basis for a couple of movie versions, which feel like they have the breathing space required. You can read the story here.