PKD flashback: ‘Radio Free Albemuth’ (1985) (Book review)

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ooks about an individual being pestered by an authoritarian government are often difficult to read because of their hopeless nature, and a sense that it’s preaching to the choir (me, the reader). There’s also sometimes the problem wherein the author doesn’t make the government antagonistic enough, allowing paths for the hero to rebel that don’t exist in the real world. But Philip K. Dick’s “Radio Free Albemuth” (1985) avoids those traps because it has so many layers. And of course, it’s a PKD book, so it’s easy and fun to read, although in this case he tries out some uncharacteristic approaches.

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James Gunn-produced ‘Brightburn’ turns ‘Superman’ into a gory parental nightmare (Movie review)

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he New Mutants” has been drawing buzz for a few years for being a superhero/horror mash-up, but as it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that movie will ever be released, “Brightburn” – from James Gunn’s (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) production team – steps in. In the “Superman” and “Roswell” sagas, the kids from other planets are benevolent and the humans are potential threats, but “Brightburn” asks “What if the roles were reversed?”

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PKD flashback: All 18 stories from ‘The Collected Stories, Volume 4’ (1987), ranked (Book review)

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ecause the five volumes of “The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick” have been reprinted many times under many different names, I’m referring to them here by their volume number, which is what they are known by in their original 1987 publication by Underwood-Miller.

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‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’ punches up Jean Grey’s tragic fall compared to ‘Last Stand,’ but still struggles to portray her inner journey (Movie review)

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ean Grey (Sophie Turner) turns into Dark Phoenix for the first time on the new timeline in “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” but nonetheless, I’ve seen this story before. Granted, this is a more robust telling than the one in “X-Men: The Last Stand” (2006), which was on the previous timeline. Jean’s possession by an evil cosmic force, based on the famous 1980 comic arc by Chris Claremont and John Byrne, was (weirdly) a B-plot in that movie; it gets all of the focus this time around.

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First episode impressions: ‘Emergence’ (TV review)

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he pilot episode of “Emergence” (Tuesdays, ABC) is a crisply crafted hour of TV that would set the stage for an excellent series in an alternate universe where there weren’t already dozens of recent series about the emergence of the next stage of human evolution. Still, it’s remarkable how gripping and likable this hour is. Creators Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas also helmed “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World” a couple years ago – that ultimately grew into a lovable series, even though it was much sloppier out of the gates than this one.

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‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is an old-fashioned creature romp made with modern tools (Movie review)

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n the next movie, I’d like to see Godzilla and his nemeses fight in conditions other than driving rainstorms, but even though there isn’t a wide variety of weather in “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” this is a top-shelf monster spectacle. The titular creature from the 2014 movie is back, and director/co-writer Michael Daugherty and his team throw a smorgasbord of beasts at the screen to take him on, notably the three-headed dragon Monster Zero, who has a fascinating mythology behind him.

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PKD flashback: ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (2006) (Movie review)

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riter-director Richard Linklater lovingly adapts “A Scanner Darkly” – Philip K. Dick’s 1977 classic about drug use and the drug war set amid a future drug-producing spy state – but the 2006 film is also an example of how movies can play flatter than the novel even when faithfully translated. The film is also notable for using interpolated rotoscoping, in which live-action frames are given an animated look, a technique also used in this fall’s Amazon Prime TV series “Undone.”

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PKD flashback: All 23 stories from ‘The Collected Stories, Volume 3’ (1987), ranked (Book review)

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ecause the five volumes of “The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick” have been reprinted many times under many different names, I’m referring to them here by their volume number, which is what they are known by in their original 1987 publication by Underwood-Miller.

Continue reading “PKD flashback: All 23 stories from ‘The Collected Stories, Volume 3’ (1987), ranked (Book review)”

PKD flashback: All 27 stories from ‘The Collected Stories, Volume 2’ (1987), ranked (Book review)

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ecause the five volumes of “The Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick” have been reprinted many times under many different names, I’m referring to them here by their volume number, which is what they are known by in their original 1987 publication by Underwood-Miller.

Continue reading “PKD flashback: All 27 stories from ‘The Collected Stories, Volume 2’ (1987), ranked (Book review)”

PKD flashback: ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (1977) (Book review)

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y sharpest memory from my first read of “A Scanner Darkly” (1977) was the very Philip K. Dickian scenario of a police detective investigating himself, but not realizing he’s investigating himself. Broadly, it’s a delicious jab at the absurdities that can result when a government agency goes beyond investigating crimes and starts getting into long-term stings where it artificially creates the surrounding reality in order to nab an individual under the law. And indeed, if one wants to read “A Scanner Darkly” as a critique of the War on Drugs, it can play that way.

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