The Early Science Fiction of Philip K. Dick, Volume 2 by Philip K. Dick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
"Early," in this context, means the 1950s, and here are much the same concerns and ideas as you'll find in, say, Sheckley: consumerism, the Cold War--memorably mashed together in one story, in which social pressure makes everyone into nuclear doomsday preppers, because fear of your family's destruction has proved the best way to stimulate the economy--commuting from the suburbs to a job you hate, working with technology you don't understand. Women are housewives or secretaries (even in the stories set in the future), and are not protagonists. Because this is PKD, there's also a strong thread running through all of this of uncertainty about one's identity or what is real. In the best stories, this culminates in a powerful moment of existential horror at the end.
A number of successful Hollywood movies have been based on PKD's stories, but not on these ones, which are so much of their time that they wouldn't translate well into another decade. That isn't to say they're bad stories. Some of them are excellent. What they are, though, is limited by the viewpoint of their time, and littered with unexamined assumptions about that time--most of which would come up for examination in the 1960s, by PKD and other SF writers.
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