I have an exciting review for you today! Electric Dreams by Philip K. Dick is a unique collection of weird and wonderful short stories with wistful characters and strange plot twists giving them the wow factor.
Strange, funny, and powerful, the stories in this collection highlight a master at work, encapsulating his boundless imagination and deep understanding of the human condition.
Official blurb for Electric Dreams
Now, I could have gone OTT and picked apart every single story in this collection (and I would totally do that) but then where’s the mystery? Where’s the surprise? Where’s the passion? I will be reviewing this book as a whole with focus on three of the ten narratives.
In this story, a man turns up at the train station ticket office wanting a ticket to Macon Heights. But there’s a problem. It doesn’t exist. Then he vanishes. Completely disappears! This leads the ticket officer to try and seek it out. Where has he heard the name before? The end will freak you out.
How Dick fits in so much tension into such a short story is beyond me. It’s classic science-fiction but with a refreshing strangely human perspective. I really felt unnerved at the end, just with a single line. It changes your entire outlook on the story. There wasn’t any real scientific explanation, more just generalised theory, which is what I enjoyed about this story. Straight to the point, right in the action. Dick doesn’t waste any time involving you in the story.
This was the first story I read and at first, I thought WTF (to be fair, that was general feeling through this collection). A man works as a historian whose area of expertise is the 20th century. However, the reality if this man’s life becomes confusing as he then goes into the exhibit piece, aka, into the 20th century. Is he in the future dreaming of the past or is he in the past dreaming of the future?
This weird and down right bizarre story really shook me. If it’s one thing Dick does right, it’s the endings. The one liners. They leave a lasting impression on the reader and distort your thoughts on the story as a whole.
‘The Impossible Planet’
The concept for this story was really interesting. What would it be like if Earth didn’t exist? If people tried but failed to find it? There was no proof, no evidence, nothing. Earth just ceased to exist. The plot follows a woman who has wanted to visit Earth her whole life. The company responsible for her travel try explaining that Earth does not exist, but when she reveals the amount of money she is willing to pay, they decide to lie to her and take her to a random planet instead.
The story really looked at morals and human nature. Dick represented the best and the worst of humans in this story, and I really liked there were contrasts between the characters as it evoked more involvement from the reader. Again, the ending. I had an inkling for this one, but the shock factor was still intensified by the way Dick portrayed it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I read a story at a time and they were the perfect length for the plot. They were interesting and unique in their own way, yet the style was similar which linked the stories nicely.
I would recommend this book to those who are maybe wanting to read outside their preferred genre. I too was one of those who thought Science-Fiction was just full of robots and cyborgs etc. (and of course, if you like that sort of thing… great! I myself have started reading some cult classics of the sci-fi genre!) but this collection steps back from the technological side and focuses on human nature. I think because they’re short stories too, it helps ease the reader into a new kind of genre.
I would also recommend for people who like psychological and thought-provoking stories. Ones that mess with your head and distort your views. I think everyone should read at least one story in the collection. I really enjoyed reading them as they were so different! No wonder they’ve inspired the Channel 4 Anthology series of the same name. (I will have to start watching them and see their take on the stories!)
How to get your hands on a copy:
Happy reading! Lx