The Big Idea


What is the best mind-bending concept you ever discovered in a book or movie?

Ever since I was a little kid, I obsessed over mind-bending ideas I discovered in books. In the introduction to Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, the great author Philip K. Dick described exactly why these luminous concepts inspire us:

the true protagonist of a science fiction story or novel is an idea and not a person. If it is *good* science fiction the idea is new, it is stimulating, and, probably most important of all, it sets off a chain-reaction of ramification-ideas in the mind of the reader; it so-to-speak unlocks the reader’s mind so that the mind, like the author’s, begins to create.

Beyond science fiction, our world is filled with momentous ideas in psychology, physics, philosophy, theology and other fields. I have spent the last ten years writing about authors, creativity and inspiring ideas, but I joined True Pictures for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to lead a story investigation department and build a new online community.

In the passage quoted above, Dick paraphrased Dr. Willis McNelly, a California State University professor who loved these big ideas as well. With the help of a community of readers, McNelly wrote the Dune Encyclopedia about Frank Herbert’s legendary science fiction series.

Dick reminded me why community matters as you create stories or movies about life-changing ideas. He explained:

We who read science fiction (I am speaking as a reader now, not a writer) read it because we love to experience this chain-reaction of ideas being set off in our minds by something we read, something with a new idea in it; hence the very best science fiction ultimately winds up being a collaboration between author and reader, in which both create and enjoy doing it: joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.

This blog will document our quest to discover the life-changing ideas at the foundation our films. I will edit this new site, featuring the work of great writers who explore these diverse disciplines.

But we can’t do it alone. I look forward to sharing luminous concepts and learning along with you.

You should read every story in Paycheck and Other Classic Stories, but you can sample some of the stories online. If you follow the links below, you can read five free digital versions of Philip K. Dick stories from that collection at Project Gutenberg…

The Variable Man

Mr. Spaceship

The Defenders

The Gun

Piper in the Woods

(Image via “Mr. Spaceship“)

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