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Review of 'Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams' 1.6 Safe & Sound

by Paul Levinson 5 years ago in science fiction
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This Isn't A Drill

Safe & Sound — episode 1.6 in Philip K. Dick's standalone 10-episode anthology series on Amazon Prime which I've been reviewing here one episode at a time (with minimal spoilers and no or scant comparison to the original Philip K. Dick stories) — returns to the familiar but always exquisite Dick territory of is it real or illusion, in this case the real being an ear gel through which Foster Lee hears the voice of a digital assistant, the illusion being the possibility that the voice is literally in her head, given some credence since her father was a psycho who heard voices.

This dilemma is presented in the environment of a not-so-distant future in which the big Eastern cities are worried about domestic terrorist attacks from the rural "bubbles" out West. On that count, Safe & Sound is as reminiscent of Damon's Knight's 1951 story "Natural State" as it is of Philip K. Dick's 1955 "Foster, You're Dead!" on which it is thinly based.

But there's nothing thin about Safe & Sound, written for television by Kalen Egan and Travis Sentell, who give us an hour rich in symbolism and relevance to our own time, including the words "this isn't a drill," heard just a week or so ago in Hawaii, in our reality, when someone who should have known better released an announcement of an incoming ballistic missile attack, in error.

Paranoia is also a mainspring of Dick's fiction (and as his biographers and people who knew him attest, sadly also his life), and Annalise Basso does a fine job of portraying Foster in the throws of struggling with whether what she is hearing is real or worse — though, in this case, paranoia could be the better of the two choices, since what she hears from her digital helper are escalating warnings about terrorists about to attack, and what she needs to do to stop that.

Well directed by Game of Thrones' Alan Taylor, and it was good to see Maura Tierney as Foster's mother, with almost the exact same personality as her character Helen in The Affair. Hey, I'll take that until The Affair comes back on the air, and Safe & Sound is eminently worth seeing in its own right.

science fiction

About the author

Paul Levinson

Paul Levinson's novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; his LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up. His nonfiction including Fake News in Real Context, The Soft Edge, & Digital McLuhan have been translated into 15 languages.

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