Philip K Dick discussion

A Scanner Darkly
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Group Reads > A Scanner Darkly - Beyond Reality group read for Jan 2013

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Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
A Scanner Darkly is the chosen group read for Jan 2013 for the Beyond Reality group on goodreads, in case you want to join in on that one. Feel free to discuss it in that group or bring your thoughts here.

Pickle | 31 comments thats my first book of 2013 sorted. I fell in love with the movie before i read the book and loved the book.

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
I just watched the movie last night on blu-ray. Wife got a blu-ray player for her birthday in October, and got me A Scanner Darkly on blu-ray. I wasn't sure what the blu-ray versus dvd updgrade would bring, but it was actually worth it, even though its rotoscope, it did look much nicer on blu-ray, the increased sharpness seemed to help the depth percepeption and make it look less cartoonish

message 4: by Mohammed (new)

Mohammed  (mohammedaosman) | 102 comments Mod
Im not in that group so it would be interesting if the readers who read it for that group read could share their thoughts here. I havent read it yet.

Simon (friedegg) | 18 comments Mohammed wrote: "Im not in that group so it would be interesting if the readers who read it for that group read could share their thoughts here. I havent read it yet."

I would definitely make it your next Dick priority if I were you, I think it's his best.

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments Scanner felt like Dick's 'most authentic' book in the same sense the Junky was Burroughs' most authentic.

Film was a one-graphical-trick pony, that let the comic actors try too hard.

Pickle | 31 comments Mike wrote: "Scanner felt like Dick's 'most authentic' book in the same sense the Junky was Burroughs' most authentic.

Film was a one-graphical-trick pony, that let the comic actors try too hard."

the movie is easily the best PKD adaption to make it onto the big screen and the one that stuck closet to the novel.

I watched the movie before i read the book and was simply blown away. There is no way id have thought keanu would deliver a performance as good as this, as i dont rate him as an actor. (apart from in bill & ted)

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
not only is the film the closest PKD adaption to the original, I think this has to be one of the closest book to film adaptions of all time... and I think the choice of rotoscope making it cartoony is a key reason why, so I still have to disagree with Mike. Let's not forget the director is quite accomplished and someone that doesn't need tricks. Keanu and Winona are a little bland in the film, but would you really rather see them in full high resolution color over rotoscope? Downey Jr does a great job bring Barris to life with both humor and sociopathic behavior. And Cochrane does a good job as the paranoid burnout. Keanu is strong when there is confusion over whether Arctor & Fred are the same or different... and an not sure Keanu could have pulled that off with a traditional film style.

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
I'm also intrigued by the ways you can categorize this book. Most often, it gets the "Science Fiction" tag because that is what PKD mostly wrote - and I'm fine with that tag. But it is also "semi-auto-biographical". And since it doesn't throw science down your throat, you can even consider it general literature, or "transgressive fiction" if you want a more specific label. And why can't this be part of the "dirty realism" movement? Is it not an extremely realistic portrayal of a drug users journey from casual user to hopeless addict and burnout where the original self is now all gone?

And I really wish this title was taught in grade schools. In the US, it seems very little literature after 1950 is taught. Maybe 1984, Farenheit 451, Catcher in the Rye, Catch 22, or Slaughterhouse 5... but those are all also on banned books lists and being taught less and less. There is no Stephen King, Charles Bukowski, Don DeLillo, Hubert Selby Jr, and nothing Science Fiction taught. I could add many more to that list. Oh, I did read Kate Chopin's Awakening though. Books I've read by the above have changed me, changed how I view the world, view people, my philosophies. Most of the books I read in school took 10 hours of my life away.

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments Giggsy,

the film adaptation of Jo Nesbo's HEADHUNTERS is basically a word-for-word page-for-page scene-for-scene transcription-as-screenplay.

Seriously, but both are good. Unfortunately, Scanner Darkly is a VERY GOOD BOOK given a weak directorial/stylistic treatment. Sorry.

Simon (friedegg) | 18 comments I have to say that I agree with Giggsy here. The Rotoscope technique enhances the adaptation helping making it as effective as it was.

Has anyone seen 'Waking Life' in which Linklater also used this production technique throughout the film to great effect. PKD is also mentioned towards the end as I recall...

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Gabriel | 8 comments First: I liked A Scanner Darkly the movie. Have yet to read the book. I also liked Waking Life (with weird rotoscoping techniques) and Slacker (the earlier Linklater movie). I also enjoy The Lord of the Rings (Ralph Bakshi's version, he employed rotoscoping to interesting effect) and may I also remind folk that the idea of coloring over live action has been around since the start of animation ... Disney and the Fleischer brothers used it quite often. I think Linklater's use of it - as a disorienting tool - has very specific applications and it worked very well with A Scanner Darkly.

Response Byron "Giggsy": Regarding the books being taught in schools - the idea behind book selection in the high school setting (ignoring MS stuff for now, I'll discuss later) is almost always set for the following criteria: "Is this work a relevant example for a foundational understanding of literature as a whole? Is there a better example somewhere else? Does this enhance modern works?" The idea being that MS and HS book selection is used to build towards modern works analyzed in college (if students go on to college or Lit classes in college) AND to allow students to understand allusions in current texts they read on their own. In other words, MS and HS is to prepare students to understand and enjoy works by King, Dick, Danielewski, etc.

Now, the school I teach at, in the past we have included Brave New World, Farenheit 451 (which is taught in MS), Maus (MS), Night (MS), Coyotes (for modern journalism techniques), and Things Fall Apart (1958 book) in their curriculum. This changes from year to year. In the high school that I went to as a student, I read Hermann Hesse and Jorge Luis Borges as a sophomore, Einstein's Dreams by Alan Lightman and Hiroshima as a senior (other students read To Kill A Mockingbird their senior year).

Yes, SF (with the exception of 1984/Brave New World, Slaughterhouse , Frankenstein and Fahrenheit 451) does get the short end of the stick in most schools ... but remember they operate at an older level of understanding literature (i.e. sf is still viewed as oaters in space ... note, Westerns are not taught unless they are "classic" short stories, and even then that's rare ... though these form a much stronger part of the modern US cultural heritage than Scarlet Letter or Young Goodman Brown, both Hawthorne pieces that are usually taught).

Maybe others have genre books that they were taught in pre-college schools. I think that would be an interesting discussion to be had in a different forum.

(also, much as I enjoy Stephen King ... I don't see his work as necessary for all students to have read. Same with Hubert Selby Jr. - and you also want to be careful about how dark the material is for emotionally charged youth.)

message 13: by Hertzan (last edited Jan 22, 2014 08:29AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments so, I'm re-reading A Scanner Darkly, and really enjoying it again, was laughing out loud on the train this morning. It's Dick's most properly psychotic novel. A statement piece, indeed.


After that, I'm gonna re-read The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
no one ever refers to the book as a comedy, but some of the scenes with Barris playing off of Luckman is the best comedy I've ever found. The discussion of missing gears on the bike and whether or not Barris left Arctor's front door unlocked with a note on it saying come on in would make me laugh the 1000th time I read them

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments Giggsy,
exactly those sections is where I (again) laughed out loud, spluttered and chortled. Dick shows himself to be a sardonic comedy genius with Scanner. It's his 'humanistic reaction' to the 'insanely bio-engineered' that makes one chuckle along with the doom.

And the ARCTOR story is one of total and utter DOOM, but funny as...

On a disconnected note: I love the way Dick explains that the 'androids' in DADOES or 'replicants' in BR aren't robots, they're psychotic humans! I love this, and it explains why they're 'flesh and blood' rather than David from Prometheus i.e. wires, tubes and lubricant.

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
good point. When we see the innards of David from Prometheus and Bishop from Aliens its revealing them as 'less than human' and Dick always preferred the 'more human than human' which is infinitely more interesting in my mind

message 17: by Hertzan (last edited Jan 26, 2014 01:38AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments So, I've finished A Scanner Darkly and moved on to Palmer Eldritch - I love the 'concern' early in the PE novel that there's a 'conflict of interest' about WHICH HIGHLY ADDICTIVE DRUG the Corporations should feed the 'off world colonists'. It's all a numbers game, all just PROFIT.

Back to Scanner, it's like the most dismally realistic book of Dick's output. I didn't like the last three chapters at all, it was like, man, too much of a downer, man... seriously, should PKD have been committed at this point in his writing career? For his own personal safety.

Care in the Community doesn't work, evidently.

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Jordan Smith (jordan3000) | 6 comments I read this and at first it seemed like it was going to be onerously gloomy to read. But I knew to stick with it because of my other times reading PKD stuff and of course it ultimately had some amazingly interesting moments. The movie was good, though I felt like the tone of the movie wasn't nearly as dark as that of the book. Still, a pretty strong adaptation overall. Keanu gets so much flack for seeming dense, but I thought he brought a certain intelligence to that role.

message 19: by Hertzan (last edited Feb 01, 2014 12:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Hertzan Chimera (hertzanchimera) | 225 comments Scanner film was Dayglo Hippy Rainbow as far as palette went. And that over-acting. And that lack of empathy between 'love interests' Keanu and Winona. And the over-acting... oh, I've said that. And the weak direction that 'didn't rein in the lunacy'.

Sure, it was 'a fresh cinematic canvas' and they all looked like they ENJOYED making the f***ing thing, but you're not supposed to 'enjoy' making the Scanner film. It's just 'not that kind of project'. It's not a HIPPY film, it's more of a Branded type anti-corporate-influence film. Okay, so they put Alex Jones in the back of a van, nice... but needed Michael Bay to blow more shit up in the name of 'freedom to choose' and have more 'utter sincerity' in the dialogue's delivery.

While the debate is still 'fresh'... :)

Stephen | 6 comments Best pkd film so far. Perhaps best novel.
"Overacting" probably necessary to overcome the animated barrier. Woody however did not challenge himself, acted like he just came out of the Cheers bar.
Loved Keanu's soliloquy in front of the house.
Lonely disconnected people huddled together, police state, nasty drugs, whats not to love.

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Richard Cappotra | 2 comments Hey, just joined this group, greetings fellow Dickheads (I mean that lovingly), maybe we can get a monthly Dick book thing going here? There are plenty that I have yet to read. What say ye?

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Richard Cappotra | 2 comments Has anyone seen the "Free Radio Albemuth" film with Alanis Morissette yet? That was a straight to DVD thing but it received good reviews.. Hard to find..for free anyhow. :p
I am kind of in the middle of reading that book, based on contexts in the novel , I see that "Albemuth" is an anagram for "the album" so I wonder what "free radio" would be/mean taking that into account....

Byron  'Giggsy' Paul (giggsy) | 110 comments Mod
Richard wrote: "Has anyone seen the "Free Radio Albemuth" film with Alanis Morissette yet? That was a straight to DVD thing but it received good reviews.. Hard to find..for free anyhow. :p "

The writer/director/producer of the film is a member here, so if you do find a free copy you might not want to post it here :P

Actually, I believe the release keeps getting delayed, there is still hope for a multi-platform release of theater, on demand, dvd, streaming rental, etc...

There is a Q&A with John Alan Simon concerning the movie in this group you may want to check out

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