Bibliophile Birthday: Philip K. Dick, Sci-Fi Short Story King

"Blade Runner' based on the short story ' Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'

“Blade Runner’ based on the short story ‘ Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’

I love science fiction short stories so much.  I don’t know if it’s simply the best way for me to experience “hard” sci-fi without putting on my “science” hat (which is ill-fitting), or that it allows me to sample many different writers in the genre before committing to their longer works.

That said, in the many years that I have read and re-read through countless sci-fi short story collections. From the various “Best of..” compilations and chronological anthologies to the annual collections of top short fiction and sci-fi magazines – I eat these stories like candy.  I’m fat with this fiction. But it was Philip K. Dick’s work that I would constantly return to – digging out old anthologies and collections – to revisit the unique storyteller’s landscapes that Dick created. His stories are unforgettable, but they demand pilgrimage. They deserve pilgrimage.

Sci-fi readers know Dick. But many mainstream pop culture consumers have only brushed up against his work through several successful films that have been adapted from his work.  From the almost comic action-fest of the original “Total Recall” film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger to real masterpiece works like “Blade Runner” – the closest some folks get to his work is from movie adaptations of his short story works. I wish more people were aware of the “source”, the fount from which these iconic films flowed.

I’ve collected below some of the movie posters from particular movie adaptations that I liked – in hopes that someone who’s not experience Philip K. Dick’s writing may be inspired to search out a short story collection that includes some of his inspirational tales that launched the more familiar films.

He was born on this day in 1928.  He died far too soon at age 53.

Bibliophile Birthday: Georges Melies, the ‘Inspiration of Hugo Cabret’

Georges Melies

Georges Melies

Born on this day in 1861 , “Cinemagician”, Georges Melies was re-introduced to a whole new generation of film fans (and bibliophiles) through Brian Selnick’s monumental 2007 book, “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”. Thank God.

In the very nascence of film-making, Melies was an illusionist-turned-filmmaker who recognized the contributions that manipulating audience perceptions could have on moving pictures.  He is credited with being one of the first film-makers to use stop-motion tricks, dissolves, time-lapse photography and hand-painted color in movie making. He moved stage magic into the realm of movies…and the craft has never looked back since.

bday 12-8 georges melies hugo cabret selznick artIn 2007, author-illustrator Brian Selznick built a beautiful story filled with Caldecott-winning illustrations that re-introduced the man who took film-making from its toddlerhood into the realms of real movie magic. The name and contributions of Georges Melies are resurrected (both in the book AND in the real world) in an instance where art imitates life…and vice versa (thank you Oscar Wilde!).

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” almost qualifies as a wordless book, with page after page of story-telling illustrations punctuated by intermittent pages of text.  The dark frames surrounding each page of illustration create a lovely silver-gray effect as the closed book is viewed edge-on.  It’s a thick book and on the shelf it looks like one of the most challenging tomes in the Kids/YA section. But in truth, it’s an ideal choice for reluctant/challenged readers as well as adult fans of the finest illustration arts.

When we see the wonders of special effects in film today – sitting through one on-screen spectacle after another – it’s easy to become inured to the magic behind the movie-making. We don’t really think about the journey from the earliest days of cinema to the full-on multimedia experiences we enjoy today.

Today is a good day to remember Georges Melies and his vision with a wonderful re-read of “The Invention of Hugo Cabret”.