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Total Recall

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,942 ratings  ·  440 reviews
The inspiration for the Columbia Pictures film Total Recall, directed by Len Wiseman and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, and Jessica Biel. This ebook only edition of 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 ...more
ebook, Film Tie-in, 29 pages
Published July 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published April 1966)
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Bigger Commitments

The only thing that can substitute satisfactorily for a life-fantasy is a bigger life-fantasy, one which includes but exceeds the lesser narrative. Keep telling taller and taller tales about yourself and you end up with... well, theology, the biggest story that one can tell. This is the basis of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God, developed by St. Anselm, the 11th century Archbishop of Canterbury. What Anselm didn’t get, Dick does, namely that what the Argument p
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. The other night I dug up copies of two classic Philip K. Dick short stories that were later the basis for a couple of blockbuster movies, this one and Minority Report. "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" is better known as the movie Total Recall and, like Minority Report, the movie and the original story have only a nodding acquaintance with each other.

Douglas Quail is a boring man with a low-grade, boring job and a contemptuous wife who criticizes him daily. He has a dream: to go
Bill Kerwin

First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1966), “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” is one of Philip K. Dick’s richest and most complex short stories,
philosophically more nuanced than the two films adapted from it (both entitled Total Recall, 1990 and 2012).

The protagonist Douglas Quail first appears as a “Walter Mitty” type, an average man hectored by a bad-tempered wife and dissatisfied with his boring job. Longing to travel to Mars, and wishing he were a secret agent
Emily B
This was an easy short story to get into, with some interesting sci-fi ideas and a nice twist. It’s not overly complicated or too scientific so I imagine it can be enjoyed by most people.

I couldn’t help but note that there are only two women that appear in this short story, both with minor parts. Granted there aren’t an array of characters that feature in total, however the two women are both portrayed as unlikeable, one an unsupportive nagging wife, and one with her breasts exposed.
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2018-shelf
Classic novelette by PKD that was the basis for the first adaptation of Total Recall. :)

Aside from some of the later nuttiness of the movie, I was very surprised how faithful the film was to the original story. :) So many great aspects carried over. :)

Gotta love classic PKD! This is just plain fun.
Another reread? Well, since we are going to watch the movie tonight I thought, why the heck not?

Douglas Quail, a regular clerk, has dreams of a more exciting life. He dreams of adventures on Mars. Thankfully, there’s Rekal Inc., a company that offers memory implants that are so real you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Douglas makes an appointment with Rekal to have a memory implanted about him being an interplanetary secret agent that just returned from a dangerous mission on Mars. However,
"Ironically, he had gotten exactly what he had asked Rekal; Incorporated for. Adventure, peril, Interplan police at work, a secret and dangerous trip to Mars in which his life was at stake - everything he had wanted was a false memory.
The advantages of it being a memory - and nothing more - could now be appreciated."

This one was great! Very short, but masterfully written and constructed. I particularly enjoyed the humor and irony of the ending.
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
The original story formed the basis for "Total Recall." The movie follows the outline. I think I will like Mr. Dick and I anticipate further reading. ...more
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband found out the other day that I'd missed quite a lot of classic movies of the '80s and early '90s thanks to an overly-sheltered childhood. Included was the movie "Total Recall" which was based on this story. So we rectified my pop culture deficit by reinstituting an intallment of our long-lost Sci-Fi Night and watching the 1990 and the 2012 version of "Total Recall". The two movies and the original story differ vastly. I have to say that I like the ending of the story better. It's a li ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The motherload of PKD stories and novels has been released over the past year, as observed on SFF Audio's new releases podcasts.

I decided to take a quick listen to Total Recall, which is actually the short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale," which was then adapted into the movie Total Recall. The story itself hasn't changed, so I'm not sure why they renamed it for this release, except for name recognition.

Phil Gigante does a great job as narrator, making the interesting decision of po
Himanshu Karmacharya
We Can Remember It for You Wholesale is a short sci-fi story by one of the most influential sci-fi writers, Philip K. Dick. The book presents a riveting concept about memory-alteration, and keeps the readers captivated with its fair share of of twists and turns. The movie, Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was inspired by this book.
Dec 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1412-challenge
I love any of Dick's mind blowing stories and this is one of his best. It's short so even more of a treat because he sets it up, breaks it down and then sets it up all over again in less than 25 pages.

I think everyone is familiar with the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie version of this tale, Total Recall. Who didn't love that? My kids even love this movie. The newer version...not so much. The first movie works because of the shtick, but the story works because of Dick's genius way of creating a lite
book #3 for The Reading Rush - read a book that inspired a movie you've already seen ...more
Tristram Shandy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-freebie
Wow. SO much better than the movie! Hollywood ought to be ashamed of itself! 5, holy cats that was amazing, stars. It’s a short freebie online and completely worth it!
Jazzy Lemon
I love this little sci-fi stories.
And to think they got a whole film out of it!
Sami Eerola
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
Absolute master piece! The movie version have almost nothing to do with this book. The story is much more shorter and is entirely encapsulated in phew conversations in just a single day. But the tension of what is real and what is not is great. This is a psychological master piece.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this (very) short story about memory, Douglas Quail dreams of visiting Mars. He also knows he'll never get there on his own intellect or money, so he opts for the second-best thing and visits Rekal, Incorporated, a business that is able to plant false memories into a person's brain. With Rekal's help, Douglas hopes to put his spirit at ease by "remembering" a glorious past mission to Mars that never took place. But when Rekal's technicians go to plant memories in Douglas' brain, everyone is i ...more
I love this story - in just a few pages it is a prime example of Philip K. Dick's inexhaustible inventiveness and wittiness. Here especially I was delighted by the story twist(s). Although paranoia as an omnipresent theme of his stories sometimes enervates, in this story that didn't bother me an iota :) ...more
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The basis of both Total Recall movies (1990 and 2012), the story is short and interesting, a fast read, with a nice twist at the end.

P.S. Had no idea that so many movies have Philip K. Dick's stories as inspiration.
Karen’s Library
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, classics
My very first Philip K. Dick story! Off to find more.
May 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci fi fans, Philip K. Dick fans
I have wanted to read some of Philip K. Dick’s work for a long time. I am a big fan of Blade Runner, and also Total Recall and Minority Report. I’ve read about the man, and I understand Hollywood puts its own twists on things, but I wanted to read the real material.

I wanted to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but We Can Remember It for You Wholesale kind of jumped out at me first and I decided to give it a whirl.

Douglas Quail lives the boring life of a clerk. He dreams about goi
See, this is the problem when you see a movie based on a book before you read the book that the movie is based on. Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of my favorite movies, and it makes itself known in my daily life. When my niece was a newborn, her resemblance to Kuato was more than a little disturbing (she's much more beautiful now--thank heaven), and at my work we have a very loud ventilation system which sometimes kicks off. When that happens I always think of that scene in T ...more
Aug 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen both versions of the movie based on this story, I finally got around to reading it. I was a bit surprised by a couple things. Well, three things, but one of them was less important. First, I was surprised at how short a short story it was, it's only about 10 pages. The second surprise was how little of the plot of either version of the movie, especially the similarities between the two, was actually in the story. In the story there's a guy who's bored with his mundane life... good so ...more
This is dystopian short story at its finest! And what's creepy is... I think... I'm recalling already having known what happens... have I visited Rekall?? Seriously I'm creeped out in a thrilled way. I may have read this in grade school.

In the preface to my edition, Philip K. Dick writes about the paranoia humans feel because of the age-old fear of predators, and that these stories of the future are really of the past. The question of whether it's worth it to "fulfill" your desires by essentiall
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always feel weird reviewing a PKD story because I'm worried I completely missed the point but IDC. What I loved about this book is how it attacked the human memory. I firmly believe most people trust their memory too damn much. That was the point made when he was being sold on the Recall procedure. Memories are inaccurate and finer details are always lost but manufactured memories are what sticks. That's what people WANT to remember. Of course, PKD then takes this idea and then make one hell o ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe it~ The story that inspired Total Recal.
I had no idea. It was a great story and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, probably in part to remembering the movie and the differences.

This was a part of a "reading list" I am working through and this was a pleasant surprise to find.

I'm not so sure about the new movie coming out, but at least now I know it was loosely based on this story.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ayushi by: Abhi
I had no idea that Philip K. Dick's stories were the inspiration behind so many of my favorite sci-fi movies. This one is an enjoyable short read. ...more
Krista D.
I loathe the female characters, and they don't really make any sense. The male characters aren't very developed and are there to push the story forward. ...more
Bárbara Costa
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading some more mature PKD works, it's just so much fun to go back to his earlier neurotic ones. In this case, a short story about a regular man's craving for a trip to Mars as a secret agent. His only way of achieving this is to have fake memories implanted, so that he actually believes he accomplished his dream. Besides the obvious (but still quite interesting) philosophical considerations on the difference of doing something or having memories of actually doing it, the premise is simp ...more
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Insert the Tense: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale: quotes and reviews 1 6 Aug 12, 2013 03:15AM  
Books2Movies Club: Total Recall 15 83 Nov 12, 2012 11:16PM  

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Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Di ...more

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