Minority Report is really just a short story and so was quite a quick read. And I was rather surprised by the story, because it was quite different from the movie, in fact…. oh wait, I suppose I should put a spoiler alert here before I say more. In fact, the story sort of gives the exact opposite message to what you get from the movie. In the movie, Tom Cruise, ur, John Anderton decides to not kill anyone, thus proving that the whole PreCrime system is not infalliable and innocent people are being arrested; we do have free choice and our fate is not predetermined. In the story, however, Anderton makes the decision in the end to kill the person who the majority report says he is going to kill – the moral of the story: PreCrime works! Oh ya, and there are two minority reports, not just one, and they are based on the fact that Anderton sees the majority report (although you can hardly call it a “majority” when it is just one of three reports) and that changes the future. When asked if there is any flaw in the system, Anderton says, “It can happen in only one circumstance. My case was unique, since I had access to the data. It could happen again, but only to the next Police Comissioner” (p. 103) So, people really don’t have any choice, the future is predictable. All in all, I’d have to say I liked the movie better.
A few more points I found interesting:
- In the short story, Anderton is bald, fat and on the brink of retirment; in the movie, Anderton is played by Tom Cruise. Simlarily, Donna, the female precog, is 45 years and the precogs are all hideously “deformed and retarded” (p. 9); in the movie, they are young and attractive. Hollywood just couldn’t have that!
- Anytime you read a “futuristic” piece that talks about how something is “transcribed on conventional punchcards, and ejected into various coded slots” (p. 8) and data stored on “tapes” (p. 57) you know someone missed a mark.
- Similarily, I find it amusing that Dick thought that in the future, people would not only be listening to radios (I’m pretty sure I’m the only person still doing that!), but that they’d use terms like “a priori” (p. 48) on a radio broadcast for the general public.
Dick, Philip K. The minority report. New York : Carol Publishing Group, 1991.