Scuttlebutt is that beloved Philip K Dick story, ‘Minority Report‘ is going to be a TV series on FOX, so I thought now is as good as time as ever to feature it on Throwback Thursday, ScienceFiction.com’s ongoing column dedicated to the great science fiction of the past.
Well, in this case, the past if you look at the short story. Only ten years ago if you are thinking about the movie which was made in 2002.
For my more dedicated readers, you know that I love Tom Cruise scifi movies, so it should not surprise you at all that ‘Minority Report’ tops the list of science fiction movies I watch constantly. It also means that I love the short story it was based on. But before you get excited thinking you can read a quick short story rather than watching the movie, hold your horses. They are very different things, much like the ‘Total Recall‘ short story and movie are very, very different.
I often say that Dick short stories should be treated as a movie pitch. They make excellent films, but they aren’t necessarily the gripping, immersive stories they should be. They are thought exercises. Good ones, but thought exercises nonetheless.
In any case, the short story has nearly an identical world, but where they go with the plot is very different, very much like ‘Total Recall.’ In the Dick version, Anderton (the main character) is a precog specialist who stops crimes before they happen, using the visions of three mutants called “precogs”. That much is the same. What also remains identical is that the Anderton’s world is thrown off kilter when it’s predicted that he will murder a man he has never met named Leonard Kaplan. This is where the stories veer from each other quite dramatically.
Dick is not obsessed with happy endings that tie up in a neat little bow as our movie industry is. Where the Anderton of the movie finds out that he was being set up to kill a man through his investigations of Kaplan, and he solves the real murder behind his being framed, the short-story-Anderton has to wrestle with ethics. He has to decide whether or not he wants to sacrifice his life and murder Kaplan in order to keep the nearly crimeless world the precogs have created.
I won’t spoil it, but it’s Philip K Dick…. so I’m sure you can predict what he chose.
It’s a good short story, and well worth the read if you liked the movie, and are excited about the TV series at all. It may give us some hints of what to expect before FOX inevitably cancels it… because… you know… that’s what FOX does to science fiction series that sound even the slightest bit good.