By Philip K. Dick; Performed by Phil Gigante
1 CD – Approx. 1 Hour [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Themes: / Science Fiction / Mars / telepathy / memory /
Philip K. Dick’s classic short story tells the story of Douglas Quail, an unfulfilled bureaucrat who dreams of visiting Mars, but can’t afford the trip. Luckily, there is Rekal Incorporated, a company that lets everyday stiffs believe they’ve been on incredible adventures. The only problem is that when technicians attempt a memory implant of a spy mission to Mars, they find that real memories of just such a trip are already in Quail’s brain. Suddenly, Quail is running for his life from government agents, but his memories might make him more of a liability than he is worth.
The first appearance of Philip K. Dick’s “Total Recall” was under the title “ We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” originally published in 1966 for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as well as numerous short fiction anthologies. The current title owes the name to the movie adaptations (similar to 1982’s “Blade Runner”) which have help catapult the author from obscurity into a virtual household name. 2012 featured a new film version of “Total Recall,” and Brilliance Audio has also released among many other previously unavailable Philip K. Dick audiobooks a newly recorded version of the short story under the more familiar title.
The 26-page story is narrated by Audie Award winning narrator Phil Gigante and clocks in on one disc at just shy of one hour. Even though a short story, the narration is superbly done and I especially liked the attention given to little things for an example the telepathic voices heard in protagonist Douglas Quail’s head. For those not familiar with the story, the plot centers around the business REKAL which offers for a discounted fee false memories of adventures planted in their customers brains, often superior to the memories that of an actual excursion. The price includes token memorabilia and the wiping out of any knowledge that the trip was in fact a purchased and pre-packaged false memory. (So much so, that if customers suspect that their trip was in fact purchased at REKAL, they can return for a full discount of their fee.)
For those familiar from the plot of the original movie, only about the first half of the short story is used as a basis to launch the film into a detailed Martian secret agent thriller. The plot of Philip K. Dick’s story actually never leaves Earth, although the Martian journey is referred to as a key element. Instead, the story focuses on continued interaction with REKAL and a surprising further development that will be new to those who are only familiar to the story from the movie versions. (I’ve not seen the latest movie adaptation but it appears to follow the original movie closely more so and deviate even further from the short story.) Whether already a fan of the movies and story or not, the new audiobook offers a fresh and worthwhile take on one of Philip K Dick’s classic tales of science fiction.
Review by Dan VK
Two H.P. Lovecraft poems from Weird Tales, March 1947. Illustration by Boris Dolgov.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Philip K. Dick’s novelette, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale, is a tale full of false memories, soulful wishes, and the planet Mars – all classic Dick themes. It’s hero, Douglas Quail, is a man who longs to visit Mars yet is shrewish wife denies him even the day-dream. But when he discovers that he’s actually already been there, as an agent for a sinister government agency, things start getting a bit confused. Is he really a deep cover Black-Ops assassin with suppressed memories and a false identity? Or is he just a sad shmendrik with delusions of grandeur?
Here’s the editorial introduction, from the publication in Fantasy & Science Fiction, for We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. The article mentioned as being on “page 62″ is by Theodore L. Thomas, a noted SF writer and prolific columnist for F&SF in the 1960s. Thoma’s article is based on another entitled “THE FOOD THEY NE’ER HAD EAT” which is available as a |PDF|.
One audiobook version was recorded for BBC Radio 7, now called BBC Radio 4 Extra, and broadcast back in 2003. It’s available via torrent at RadioArchive.cc.
We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
By Philip K. Dick; Read by William Hootkins
2 MP3s via TORRENT – Approx. 64 Minutes [UNABRIDGED?]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 7 (now called BBC Radio 4 Extra)
Broadcast: September 2003
Doug Quail lives in a future world of memory implants and false vacations. Doug wants to visit the planet Mars but after a mishap at a virtual travel agency, he discovers that he’s already been there. First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1966.
And, here’s the trailer for the remake of the movie of the story that Philip K. Dick wrote:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Lets assume that each medium offers its own best format. If that’s true, then on TV it is the limited series programme that is the least respected and most underrated. Take The Shadow Line, a BBC 2 television series, created written and directed by Hugo Blick and starring Chewitel Ejifor. The UK paper reviewers seem to want to compare it to The Wire or the Danish series The Killing. But that’s wrong. The Shadow Line isn’t much like either. Really it is just good old fashioned thriller, something the BBC TV has done before. It’s more in the vein of House Of Cards or Edge Of Darkness. But this time it comes primarily from a single creator’s vision. This give it an extended metaphor, the “shadow line” of the title, a thread that pops up in new ways in each episode. It is both a point of dialogue and a mass of ideas. Here’s the show’s premise:
A homicide detective, with partial amnesia, returns to the job to investigate the murder of a recently pardoned heroin importer.
The Shadow Line was aimed high, and it achieved many of its goals. Where it works, it works stunningly well. Where it fails, it fails in small ways, and then moves on. In the end it is an utterly noir thriller, a highly stylized television poem and meditation on life, death and society. The methodically slow paced, cryptic, surprisingly ruthless plot delivers its message in a persuasive form, as a limited series. Most refreshing of all, it does not play, as seems does most TV, to the stupidest person in the room. One commenter put it succinctly:
“This series reminds me why it is worth paying a licence fee. Only the BBC makes drama as good as this. Drama that doesn’t treat the audience like morons.”
Another said this:
“Superb series, and the first time for an awfully long time that I’ve seen a drama on TV that’s made my brain work.”
A third, this:
A sheer joy from start to finish, even with the odd line of clunky dialogue. It was crisp and weird, and the odd, crystal-clear delivery and stylised speech of the characters, from the police to the gangsters, made it stand out from a host of dirge that has been on the screens lately. Yes it had flaws, but the complexity, the suspense, the tension, the labyrinthine plotting and the odd-ball cast of characters made it the best British drama for years.
I agree completely.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Just Another Perfect Day
By John Varley; Read by Stefan Rudnicki
34 Minutes – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Lightspeed Magazine
Themes: / Science Fiction / Memory / Aliens / Love / New York /
Stefan Rudnicki expertly narrates this story, which is perfectly suited for audio. John Varley wrote the story in the form of a letter (or letters) to the main character from the main character, who can only remember his life up to a certain point. Since a lot of time has passed since that point, and a lot of things have happened, he needs to be told what’s going on every single morning. These letters do the job.
Varley, of course, is amazing. In the space of this short story he explores not only the concept that this character is in essence a new person every single day, but also what it means to those who love him and those who find his difference especially meaningful. Varley originally published this story in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine, June 1989. It’s a great one.
I continue to admire what John Joseph Adams and Prime Books are doing with Lightspeed Magazine. From the audio perspective, I greatly appreciate the professional quality of this podcast. This is an excellent story, the narration is wonderful, and the audio is professional. As good as it gets!
Posted by Scott D. Danielson
From the Spark blog:
Yesterday, Nora interview the award-winning Canadian science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer. He’s just published the third installment of his WWW trilogy, called Wonder. It speculates about a possible world in which the web develops consciousness and becomes “Webmind.”
Spark PLUS Podcast feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/cbcradiosparkblog
Bonus: A three part video interview with Sawyer in Hungary.
Sawyer talks about: FlashForward, other Sawyer-related TV shows, dinosaurs, awards, his upcoming book (Triggers), memory, research, assassination, ebooks, Japan, piracy, DRM, advice to aspiring writers, teaching writing, the University Of Toronto, travel, translations and RJS book covers from around the world.
[via RJS' blog]
Posted by Jesse Willis
P.S. CBC owes us Apocalypse Al.