Hear 6 Classic Philip K. Dick Stories Adapted as Vintage Radio Plays

As you can prob­a­bly tell if you’ve inter­act­ed with any of his hard-core fans, the sci­ence fic­tion of Philip K. Dick has a way of get­ting into read­ers’ heads. What bet­ter way to adapt it, then, than in the medi­um of radio dra­ma, with its direct route into the head through the ears? Sci­ence fic­tion in gen­er­al pro­vid­ed radio dra­ma with a good deal of bread-and-but­ter sub­ject mat­ter since pret­ty much its incep­tion, and suit­ably so: its pro­duc­ers did­n’t have to both­er design­ing dis­tant worlds, alien races and elab­o­rate­ly futur­is­tic tech­nolo­gies when, with the right sound design, the lis­ten­ers would design it all them­selves in their imag­i­na­tions.

But does it real­ly do jus­tice to Dick to call his work “sci­ence fic­tion”? Sure, he knocked out a fair few straight-ahead (or sub-straight-ahead) sci-fi pot­boil­ers in his pro­duc­tive career, but many of his writ­ings, despite their rough edges, qual­i­fy under Wal­ter Ben­jam­in’s def­i­n­i­tion of great works of lit­er­a­ture, which “either dis­solve a genre or invent one.”

Some of Dick­’s nov­els and sto­ries even seem to do both at once, cre­at­ing their own par­tic­u­lar (as well as pecu­liar) psy­cho­log­i­cal space in the process. Can radio dra­ma ren­der a Dick­ian world of mul­ti­lay­ered real­i­ty and rich para­noia as eas­i­ly as it does so many Mar­t­ian colonies, laser guns, and sen­tient com­put­ers? So you can judge that for your­self, we sub­mit today for your approval six radio plays adapt­ed from Dick­’s sto­ries.

From the series Mind Webs, which ran on Wis­con­sin pub­lic radio from the 1970s to the 90s, we have “Impos­tor,” “The Pre­serv­ing Machine,” and “The Builder.”

From NBC’s ven­er­a­ble X Minus One, which defined sci-fi at the tail end of old time radio’s “Gold­en Age,” we have “Colony” and “The Defend­ers.”

Into the mix we also throw Sci-Fi Radio’s “Sales Pitch,” Dick­’s satir­i­cal tale of a self-mar­ket­ing robot.  Some of this mate­r­i­al, of course, sounds not ter­ri­bly dif­fer­ent than the whiz-bang sto­ries of out­er-space adven­ture chil­dren of the 1950s grew up lov­ing.

But some of it sounds alto­geth­er more, well… Dick­ian. Those chil­dren of the 1950s, after all, grew into the twen­tysome­things of the late 1960s and 70s, who knew a thing or two about tun­ing in to a dif­fer­ent head­space.

Find these sto­ries list­ed in our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Lis­ten to 188 Dra­ma­tized Sci­ence Fic­tion Sto­ries by Ursu­la K. Le Guin, Isaac Asi­mov, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Bal­lard & More

X Minus One: More Clas­sic 1950s Sci-Fi Radio from Asi­mov, Hein­lein, Brad­bury & Dick

Dimen­sion X: The 1950s Sci­Fi Radio Show That Dra­ma­tized Sto­ries by Asi­mov, Brad­bury, Von­negut & More

Philip K. Dick Makes Off-the-Wall Pre­dic­tions for the Future: Mars Colonies, Alien Virus­es & More (1981)

The Penul­ti­mate Truth About Philip K. Dick: Doc­u­men­tary Explores the Mys­te­ri­ous Uni­verse of PKD

33 Sci-Fi Sto­ries by Philip K. Dick as Free Audio Books & Free eBooks

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.


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