Title: The Minority Report. Author: Philip K. Dick.
It’s safe to say that most science fiction fans, myself included, would consider The Minority Report to be one of the best SF films of the 21st century so far. Hardly a year goes by where I don’t watch Spielberg’s sleak vision of the dystopian future, yet I have some caveats with the movie adaptation, namely that it’s a bit too long, too puffed up, and overly complicated rather than complex at times (there’s a big difference). The book version of The Minority Report, as I just found out, has none of these imperfections.
Indeed, a more perfect sci-fi/thriller would be hard to find. In the short span of pages that makes up the story, there’s rarely a scene that feels out of place, and just as rare are superfluous sentences. Instead, Philip K. Dick’s writing is compact and gem-like in its precision and radiance.
The Minority Report imagines a future society where crime has been largely eradicated, thanks in large part to a trio of people with precognitive abilites. John Anderton, who’s described as balding, fat, and old, (a far cry from Tom Cruise in the film version) is tasked with carrying out the pre-emptive measures that stop murderers from commiting their crimes, sometimes before they even have the inclination to do the deed. It’s business as usual for Anderton until the time comes when the precogs finger him as a future-murderer. From then on, like so many Philip K. Dick books, the story turns into a thrilling series of chase sequences, as Anderton must uncover the conspiracy whilst his former coworkers are always at his heels.
If you’ve seen the 2002 film, don’t take this to mean the story has been ruined for you. Where the movie took the premise then devolved into an episode of Law and Order set in the future, the original story takes a more subversive direction, as Anderton soon discovers a nasty twist in the case, and is left wondering what’s the lesser of two evils: an Orwellian police state, or martial law?
Existing somewhere between a short story and a novella in lenght, The Minority Report is a story you can hurtle through in an hour or two. It’s also a good introduction to the work of Philip K. Dick for those who aren’t already acquainted with his profoundly paranoid imaginings. My only complaint with the work was the scene at the end which explains what went behind the twists in the narrative–some readers will welcome this scene with open arms, but I felt Philip K. Dick was killing me with kindness. I would rather have puzzled out the conclusions myself rather than have a few characters explain it all away (I similarly dislike the final scenes of Psycho for that reason). Otherwise, The Minority Report was a short, rewarding, boggling, and thrilling read, one that I’ll recommended to all of my more open-minded friends.
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What would be your review of The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick?