Book Review – Minority Report by Philip. K. Dick

Hello WordPress, how the devil are you? I know, I know, it has been over a month since my last post! I have some catching up to do! I also don’t have a picture for you with this book. The downside of e-books. They usually don’t have good front covers and I can’t easily take photos of them. Soz. Anyway, on with the review.

After finishing Foundation and Empire, I dove straight back into sci-fi with Minority Report. It was very interesting to see the differences in style between the two books. Both Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick produce slick, readable texts. Both also competently create future worlds which are still believable many decades after they were written. The difference is maybe one of how grounded each view of the future is. As I mentioned when I reviewed Foundation and Empire, a tale set in the far far future is not going to be at much risk of dated ideas until we manage to jump in space ships and whiz off to the twirly ends of the galaxy. In Philip’s Minority Report the future was definitely closer. I got an interesting mixture of future and the ‘70s from the story, but somehow that worked extremely well. The machines that the pre-cogs were attached to saved information to tapes, the reports were delivered on cards. It was all quite colloquial. In my mind this should have spoilt the book. I should have read about cards and tapes and got upset that the future is not going to be like that, we are already past bits of card to report onto. BUT, Philip K. Dick created realism in his future worlds. They feel different, and they are futuristic and they work wonderfully well. We already know that the future is going to be much more real and, well, down to earth than sci-fi tells us. The reality of it will warp and change as the order of different breakthroughs change the way that we work ever closer to that comfy seat on the spaceship to Mars. An example to illustrate my point; you know when R2D2 projects Princess Leyla onto the table in Starwars? Well, once we eventually invent holographic video and updated Dusty Bins to project them, they will definitely be very hi resolution, not the grainy broken effort that we saw and accepted as cool and futuristic in the film.

I’m not going to go into the details of the Minority Report story as I try not to include spoilers, but there is a great synergy in the basis of the story and the book itself, so if you don’t want to know a bit of the plot, skip the rest of this paragraph. Under usual circumstances 3 reports are created by the future gazing pre-cogs. The minority report is the weakest of the 3, the one that does not fully agree. In this story the minority report is very significant; it was different because its prediction was based on the events created because a character reads the main report and the third report is the altered future state. This is an ingenious plot device that Philip masterfully plays out in the story. I realised that the whole story is in its self a Minority Report. It is a short story, therefore minor in stature compared to a full book. More significantly, the story builds on realisation after realisation of how events have occurred and the impact of the present on the future. The story gets to an point where the remainder of the book is obvious. There is no option, the outcome is inevitable and is a function of the events that led up to it. A sublime reflection of the process that the story describes.

I did only get the Philip K. Dick Kindle book to read Minority Report, so that is the only story I read. I can thoroughly recommend it (and I expect the other stories in the book are great too…)


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