Artistic fate

The fate of many artists is to be best appreciated (and rewarded) after they die. Sadly, that’s certainly true of the late Philip K. Dick, a troubled science fiction author who produced a wide ranging seam of work that has been efficiently mined and exploited since his death in 1982.

From the Register:

Philip K Dick ‘Nazi alternate reality’ story to be made into TV series

Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle

Ridley Scott has signed on to make Philip K Dick’s Nazis-in-America story The Man in the High Castle for Amazon Studios, according to industry mag Deadline.

Scott’s production firm Scott Free and X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz will make the alternate reality tale in which the Nazis won an extended World War II and are occupying the US in the ’60s. The project was originally supposed to be made by Syfy into a four-hour miniseries.

The sci-fi author is clearly a favourite for Scott, who previously directed Blade Runner, and for Hollywood fodder in general. Two versions of Total Recall movies have been made, along with Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau.

The Man in the High Castle, a Hugo-Award-winning novel, is set in 1962 and tells the story of American life under Fascist rule while the Axis Powers – Japan, Italy and Germany – plot against each other.

The story is one of a number of new projects to be greenlit by Amazon Studios as video-on-demand firms ramp up original in-house productions. Netflix has enjoyed huge success with series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black – which have racked up Emmy Award nominations and wins – and Amazon has been racing to catch up with projects like Alpha House and Betas.

I discovered Philip K Dick when I was a student at University. I bought a book, on spec, in the then Grants’ bookshop in Union Street. (I cannot remember the title – it may have been The Zap Gun.) I was hooked. It was not mass market, accessible material; it was strange, puzzling, troubling, thoughtful, intriguing, and refreshing. He did not get the New Yorker crowd to love him, but within the genre many appreciated and understood his work. He asked questions that few others did, in a way that challenged many of our conceptions.

Gradually, I bought more and more of his stuff until, over the years I had acquired and read all of his fiction. So, it’s with mixed emotions that I see his work turned into somebody else’s vision. I can only begin to imagine what Mr D would have said, were he still alive today.