by Steve Lancaster 1/13/18
By Phillip K. Dick • This is an original series from Dr. Evil (Jeff Bezos) Amazon. I have watched the first four of ten stories. I say stories as they lay out as short stories in a book. I don’t remember reading any of them when first published but they strike a familiar note. The first called Real Life, stars Anna Paquin as a lesbian police officer in a future where they really have flying self-driving cars. She takes a technology vacation as another person, a heterosexual black male sometime in our near future, her recent past. The technology that links the two personas leaves the viewer to wonder which is the reality and which is the electronic dream.
The second is called autofac, short for auto factory. Society has destroyed itself in a nuclear war, but autofac is self-contained and its AI continues to ship unneeded goods to long-dead customers. A small group of survivors in the out lands attempt to break in to autofac and shut it down. The effort turns out to be not what is expected by either side.
The third is called, Human Is. This one stars Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad. In a future earth pollution has rendered the planet almost uninhabitable. The quick fix is a rare element from another planet. The Colonel, (Cranston) is sent to acquire the element and fight the planet’s inhabitants if necessary. When he leaves he is a cold-hearted SOB. On his return he has changed, was it the stress of combat or something else. Only his wife has a clue.
The fourth is called Crazy Diamond, and stars Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire. Again, we have a dystopian future presented, Ed (Buscemi) is unhappy with his job, his wife and his life. He dreams of another life and escape. He even restored a sailboat to make his escape on. Technology has advanced to the point that an individual basic essence can be stored and even transferred to other bodies. These bodies are called Jacks and Jills, but there seems to be some challenges with the programming.
As you can see, these stories deal with the interaction between humans and machines, more importantly they each ask the question want is human? Is an alien lifeform in a human skin more human than the human that had the body? Is an AI that self-programs aware and sentient? Those who are familiar with the questions Phillip K. Dick asked in his novels and short stories will recognize these themes, even the dystopian future. Amazon is to be commended for maintaining the essence of Phillip K. Dick stories. By watching these it’s easier to understand Blade Runner, the original and the recent sequel. Each story has a twist, some easier to predict than others but so far, the science fiction is just that, fiction with a science background.