Do Androids dream of a convoluted Ubik?

Posted by CB Droege

I know the movie is still a long way from the big screen, but I’m really excited about the announcement that the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s "Ubik" is one step closer to production now that a director, Michel Gondry, has been found.

"Ubik" may be Dick’s most interesting, but also his most convoluted novel, and hearing the announcement makes me nostalgic for the story.

Do Androids dream of a convoluted Ubik?Dick’s novels have made movies of varying success in the past, and fall into a wide range of topics and audience types within the genre.

If you’re wondering about this one, it’s a lot more like "A Scanner Darkly" than "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

One of the few true masters of the surprise, Dick’s best works are those that make the audience change their mind about what is going on multiple times, despite knowing in advance that the work is going to be full of twists and turns.

This novel follows a team of psychics who, at the beginning of the novel, are on a routine mission for their employer.

They specialize in anti-telepathy security services, to protect clients from the possibility of corporate espionage by way of psychic spies.

The mission goes bad when the team is attacked, and their leader is killed in an explosion. This triggers an avalanche of psychic events, which turn the world in confusing ways. 

The team has to deal with suspicions about each other’s loyalty, while also dealing with a world that seems to be falling apart around them.

The technology, buildings and people around the team all begin to regress through time at varying rates, and only the members of the team seem to notice.

In addition, any team member who spends too much time away from the rest of the group ages hundreds of years, and dies in apparent agony. Things that the team members touch spoil and rot on contact, and they begin to see the face and words of their late leader on everything from bathroom stalls to currency. 



He’s trying to tell them to find some Ubik (an enigmatic consumer good which changes form several times during the regression), because it is their only salvation.

One of the most interesting scenes, and the one which will be the most fun to see translated onto the big screen is one in which the protagonist needs to make a quick journey cross-country, and so hires out a futuristic jet.

A large part of the regression of the world takes place while he is in the sky, and unnoticed by the pilot, the plane is reverting piecemeal into earlier versions of flight tech. 

He finally lands in a prop-plane from the early 1940’s, happy that the plane did not completely disappear out from under him.

The visual effects are going to be the most fun part of this movie, and if done right, a lot could be done with the filming style and visuals to show the regression and confusion among the characters.

I keep telling myself I shouldn’t get my hopes up about these projects, but I just can’t help myself.