Philip Dick’s New Frontier

by The bookworm on July 2, 2011 · Market Analysis

Do Androids Dream of Electric SheepTo a rare book lover, the film version of the story will never be as good as the book itself. But a film does offer an artistic expression that is quite different and visually enjoyable, especially when it comes to science fiction with special effects. Literary work allows the reader to use the imagination more liberally and adopt content in a more personal expression. Films enhance one’s interpretation of the story with the assistance of actors, directors as well as special effects.


Do Androids Dream of Electric SheepWhether you are a reader or a film watcher, to a book collector the combination is a match made in heaven.  A film adaptation does improve the marketability and value of a rare book significantly. Some of the Jonathan Cape first editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, for example, are asking well into the 5 digits. I wonder whether the dust jacket of the first edition of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) would have remained as the most expensive piece of paper if the film was never produced. C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles have seen their fair share of appreciation ever since the films were released.

When it comes to science fiction writing no other author has seen greater demand for his work to be adopted into films, than American novelist and short story writer Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982). Beginning with the now classic Blade Runner in 1982, his contribution to movie production has been climbing steady with a number of projects currently underway. Dick’s science fiction writings have seen a great deal of interest by the likes of Ridley Scott,  Paul Verhoeven, Christian Duguay, Steven Spielberg, Gary Fleder,  Richard Linklater,  Michel Gondry,  George Nolfi and Lee Tamahori, to name a few. Below is the list of films produced or currently in production along with the corresponding Philip Dick story that inspired them:

Film Title Year Literary Title Type Year
Blade Runner 1982 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? novel 1968
Total Recall 1990 We Can Remember It for You Wholesale Short story 1966
Confessions d’un Barjo (Barjo) 1992 Confessions of a Crap Artist novel 1975
Screamers 1995 Second Variety Short story 1953
Minority Report 2002 The Minority Report Short story 1956
Impostor 2002 Impostor Short Story 1953
Paycheck 2003 Paycheck Short story 1953
A Scanner Darkly 2006 A Scanner Darkly novel 1977
Next 2007 The Golden Man Short story 1954
The Adjustment Bureau 2011 Adjustment Team Short Story 1954
King of the Elves 2012 King of the Elves Short Story 1953
Radio Free Albemuth 2011 Radio Free Albemuth novel 1985
Ubik Unknown Ubik novel 1969
Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said Unknown Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said novel 1974


This phenomenal track record after the author’s death is to a great extend attributed to the daughter of the author and co-manager of his estate, Isa Dick Hackett. Rather than waiting for filmmakers to contact her, Ms. Hackett, has been pursuing filmmakers to adapt her father’s stories. She is also trying to maintain good control over the degree of faithfulness the film has to the original story. Some of these productions have taken a significant amount of liberty in their production at the risk of losing the essence of her father’s story.

In either case the productions have pushed pricing for some of these first editions through the stratosphere. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has been selling well over $10,000 and the first edition of Ubik with its upcoming film release is currently priced around $3000. That is a lot of money for a modern first. For anyone wishing to own some of these rare books, it can be pretty disappointing given the scarcity and high price. Don’t lose faith yet, you still have a good chance of becoming the owner of such a jewel one of these days. Just keep in mind that Mr. Dick wrote more than 40 novels and 125 short stories.

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