“You’re a top operative working undercover on an important mission. People are trying to kill you left and right. You meet this beautiful exotic woman. I don’t want to spoil it for you, Doug, but you rest assured that by the time the trip is over, you get the girl, kill the bad guys, and save the entire planet.”
Philip K. Dick wrote We Can Remember It for You Wholesale in 1966. I’ve never read the short story, only having on about 16 occasions watched the movie adaptation Total Recall (1990). As a kid I was in it for the action and Arnie one-liners. As an alleged adult it’s the purchased memory theme that brings me back, the ambuiguity as to whether Quaid’s Secret Agent adventure is fantasy or not.
Perhaps the peak Arnie flick – a blistering entertainment married to cerebral ideas and conceits – it still stands as one of the most accessible sci-fi works over the past 30 years. The future of the holiday here is the downloading of data, the transcending of air travel. Returning with artefacts aside, what are journeys but the accumulation of memories, imprints which serve as building blocks of the id.
The movie – and, I presume, the short story – was way ahead of its time, and still holds up.