Amazon’s new sci-fi anthology “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” is not a series you should binge – but that’s for a good reason.
Instead of blowing through the 10 episodes quickly, it’s a lot more rewarding to take your time and savor them. The stories are drawn from the numerous novels and stories of influential science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick.
The author, who died in 1982, remains a force in entertainment today. His works have been the source of films such as “Blade Runner” (1982), “Blade Runner 2049” (2017) “Total Recall (1990 and in 2012 versions), “Minority Report” (2002), “A Scanner Darkly” (2006), and “The Adjustment Bureau” (2011).
Later this year, Amazon is set to release a third season of “The Man in the High Castle,” an adaptation of Dick’s 1962 alternative history novel about the Nazis and its Axis cohorts winning World War II.
The reason Dick’s stories have endured is that they deal with subjects that seem so timely today, technology’s impact on privacy and – in various forms – who we are and will become as human beings. A number of the episodes in “Electric Dreams” take that idea on directly.
“Human Is” stars Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston, a producer on the series, as a soldier named Silas on a future Earth that has a toxic atmosphere. He’s sent on a mission to another planet to steal a substance from an alien species that will help clean the air.
When he returns after a fierce battle on an alien world, his wife, Vera, played by Essie Davis (“Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”) finds Silas has suddenly become kinder and more loving. Having been in a loveless marriage, she must decide whether to report him or not.
The episode is based on a 1955 short story of the same name, and like many of the tale here, it has a twist. “Autofac,” from another 1955 stories has more than one.
In it, Juno Temple plays Emily, one of a few rebels left in a future society that has collapsed after a war. What remains is a massive automatic factory that continues to operate according to the principles of consumerism, turning out useless products and wasting energy.
The rebels are trying to shut it down, but the facility is armed with a self-defense system. Finally, they hit on the idea of luring a cyborg representative (Janelle Monáe) to come…