Amazon's 'Electric Dreams': When Robots Will Give Tours of Post-apocalyptic Earth

'Electric Dreams' offers a look into iconic sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick's visions of the future

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A scene from 'Electric Dreams.'
A scene from 'Electric Dreams.'Credit: Channel 4

Electric Dreams, produced by Bryan Cranston, the star of Breaking Bad, and based on short stories by the renowned science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, is the latest entry in the trend of cinematic and television adaptations of literary works. Its not the first adaptation of works by Dick, who died at the age of 53 in 1982, leaving legions of admirers who can declaim his life story, which is rife with visions and prophecies, drugs, hallucinations and paranoias. Works by Dick that have been made into films include Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report, and the television series The Man in the High Castle.

In contrast to the adaptation of a single-theme book with a central plotline, Electric Dreams, which debuted on January 12 on Amazon, consists of ten short films based on ten stories. The series offers a glimpse into Dicks visions about the future, reality and the perception of reality. A case in point is the second episode, which is set in the distant future, when humankind is living somewhere in space. Two partners, who run an intergalactic tourism company, set out to fulfill the dream of an elderly woman to visit planet Earth, which she heard about from her grandmother. However, Earth has long since been incinerated. The woman is accompanied by a dubious android, and a twist in the plot creates a situation akin to a dream, an illusion or death. And if the last sentence seems murky, complaints should be addressed to Dick.

Perhaps this is what attracts the eye so cogently in this episode as a representation of the whole project. The future and what will happen in it to humankind has always engaged creative artists and consumers of culture, but not always the same aspects or the same version of the future. Maybe whats changed in the timespan between Philip K. Dick and, say, Black Mirror, is the way people think about it.