Category Archives: Dick, Philip K.

Radio Free Albemuth, the movie

Radio Free Albemuth, the movie

Radio Free Albemuth is a book by Philip K. Dick and there was a movie made of it recently.  But, I’m sorry to say, don’t waste your time unless you are a Dick fanatic, or a real sci-fi buff that is willing to watch just about anything that’s been made into a movie.

Radio Free AlbemuthThe main characters are pretty nice to look at and you get used to their not-so-great acting skills as the movie goes on, but it was what I think of as a B movie.  Maybe those are just ones with low budgets, and I’ll give these people props for trying, but man, try to watch and you will see what I mean.

A lot of things are changed.  The time frame is much more recent which is understandable since it would be nearly impossible to make it look like the 60s.  Instead, it’s the 80s and they don’t worry much about whether things really look like the 80s, which they don’t, and that’s a good thing.

Some dialogue is taken directly from the book, and there are plenty of passages where the spirit of the scene has followed over even if it’s not exactly the same.  So the writers did a good job adapting, but wow it’s a tough one to sit through.

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Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K. DickIn Radio Free Albemuth, Dick describes an alternate reality in which a man, Ferris Freemont, has manipulated events, including the murder of JFK and other politicians, in order to rise to power.  Once he attains the highest seat of power as the president, he rigs elections and starts a witch-hunt against a group called Aramcheck. 

I read this book because I discovered there was a movie made of it and who doesn’t like to read books and then watch the movie, whether bad or good, it’s fun.  But this was a difficult one.  I discovered for the 2nd time now that I am not a PKD type.  The first PKD I read was Clans of the Alphane Moon and it was actually pretty cool, but I remember deciding to myself that I’m not so sure about PKD, at least regarding future audiobook purchases.

Clans of the Alphane Moon is a fun light-hearted story and funny too.  I will never forget the buddy of the main character who is an alien blob named Lord Running Clans of the Alphane MoonClam…!!!!  I get a smile on my face just thinking about that.  Hard to imagine it was written in 1964.  It seemed rather timeless.  (Is that Lord Running Clam on the far right???)

On the other hand, Philip Dick writes himself into Radio Free Albemuth, like Stephen King does in The Dark Tower, and it’s not a cohesive storyline like in Clans.  It’s about a supernatural alien force, or collective, that communicates with Dick’s best friend and tries to overthrow the evil Ferris Freemont government.  To call it weird is an understatement.  The book is completely out of the box.

It actually starts out better than it ends.  At the beginning, the author (this is PKD speaking in first person here) and his best friend live in Berkeley.  He proceeds to take jabs at both liberals and conservatives, which is always a good idea and he does it well.

It’s hard to understand what I didn’t like about Dick’s writing but the closest I can come is that it has too many continually abstract passages.  Like when an author is going into a lot of detail about philosophy, or another plane of existence, or a trance-like imagining.  Too much abstract mumbo-jumbo, stuff that is probably important to the storyline, but that I can’t stomach.  I have to come back to a moment in time more often than this book allows.

And it’s entirely possible that I just don’t get it.  Like Douglas Adams, another funny sci-fi guy.  I read one or two but it’s not my thing.  Incredibly inventive authors though.