Science Channel: Prophets Of Science Fiction: Philip K. Dick (video docu/bio/futurology something)

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Paul Verhoeven (filmmaker), Ridley Scott (filmmaker), Roberto Orchi (filmmaker), Kim Stanley Robinson (writer), Matt Fraction (writer), Gregg Rickman (biographer), Michio Kaku (purveyor of futuorology), André Fenton (neuroscientist), David Brin (“Futurist”), and Brad Barker (surveillance corporate guy) are consulted for the Science Channel’s Prophets Of Science Fiction: Philip K. Dick episode. The narration tying all the interview snippets together is performed by Jonathan Adams.

I disliked this program very much. Now the 1994 BBC Arena documentary wasn’t spectacular either, but at least it focused on talking to the people who knew Dick and the man’s ideas. The Science Channel consults with some of the folks who knew Dick or wrote about him, but in trying to make the case that Dick was predicting (or prophesying) the future they’ve made crap. I don’t even know what to call it. Is this a docudrama? A biographical video? Some bit of video retro-futurology?

Philip K. Dick stories aren’t about virtual reality or surveillance, not any of the one’s I’ve read anyway. What they do seem to be is epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical explorations of our relationship to the world around us. Dick’s tales certainly have used fictional technologies to conduct their thought experiments, but the question of whether these technologies are plausible or not is of no importantance to their plots. The Man In The High Castle isn’t about string theory, it’s a look at history and the way human reality is formed by it. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? isn’t about prophesying human looking robots, it’s about what our responsibilities to the being around us that themselves can feel. At least that’s closer to Dick’s point.

One line of the narration goes:

“Dick’s work explores technology’s impact of on human consciousness.”

I haven’t read that Dick story. Have you?

The technologies Dick employs in his stories are for exploring what’s already going on in us, not what will go on when we develop such-and-such a technology.

I see that Prophets Of Science Fiction has also done a show on Arthur C. Clarke, I suspect that that one will fit the title better.

Oh, and the beard on the actor playing the adult Dick was shit.

Posted by Jesse Willis

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