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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.2 Autofac: Human v Machine

Ok, one more review for the night - of the second standalone episode in Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, now streaming (that is, all ten episodes of this anthology) on Amazon Prime.   (See my review of the first episode for how I'll be reviewing these episodes, if you're interested.)

In Autofac, we have Dick addressing his perennial what's real and what's fantasy, dream, alternate whatever conundrum in a form likely best known these days, and for better than three decades: which one is more human, the android (robot) or the humans who made it/her/him.   This is the theme of Bladerunner, original movie and recent sequel, based on Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - two words of which are part of the title of this 2018 streaming series.

Since Autofac is just the second episode I've seen of Electric Dreams, I can't tell you if it captures the essence of Dick's science fiction better than the other episodes.  But I will say it does an outstanding job of presenting the story of which is android and which is human - with the intensity that we might expect to find in HBO's Westworld.  Which in turn means that Amazon Prime in this series is playing on some high intellect/octane terrain indeed, as it did in its other Dick production, The Man in the High Castle.

One of the reasons that Dick has had more of his stories brought to the screen than has Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and all the masters of science fiction combined, is that he knew how to put twists and turns and surprises right in with the most complex philosophic puzzles.   Autofac has that, and manages to provide a narrative that is fresh and surprising even though its post-apocalyptic setting and artificial intelligence motifs are almost commonplace on the page and the screen.

Top-notch acting by Juno Temple, and it was good to see Revolution's David Lyons back.  Well written for television by Travis Beacham, and sharply directed by Peter Horton.

See also Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams 1.1: Mutually Alternate Realities ... 1.3 Human Is: Compassionate or Alien? ... 1.4 Crazy Diamond: DNA Batteries ... 1.5 The Hood Maker: Telepathy and Police ... 1.6 Safe & Sound: This Isn't A Drill ... 1.7 The Father Thing: Dick from Space ... 1.8 Impossible Planet: Eye of the Beholder ... 1.9 The Commuter: Submitted for Your Approval ... 1.10: Kill All Others: Too Close for Comfort

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