“The Minority Report” is a 1956 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. It is about the man who heads the pre-crime division and what he does when his name shows up as a potential murderer.
Non-Spoiler Summary In A Nutshell:
John Anderton is the head of the pre-crime division in New York City. With the help of three “precogs” the division is able to identify people who are about to commit murder, then arrest and confine them to detention camps before any atrocities take place. It is a great system that has deterred major crime for the past several years. Now, as Anderton is showing around his new protege, guess whose name should appear on the soon-to-be-a-murderer list? Yep, Anderton’s! As he desperately tries to make an escape he uncovers several clues that someone is trying to frame him. Throw in an attractive back-stabbing wife, an eager underling, a jealous military general and several plot twists and you have yourself one fine story indeed!
“A duplicate file of cards pops out at Army GHQ. It’s check and balance. They can keep their eye on us as continuously as they wish.” Anderton glanced briefly at the top card. “So even if we wanted to accept a –”
He broke off, his lips tightening.
“What’s the matter?” Witwer asked curiously.
Carefully, Anderton folded up the top card and put it away in his pocket. “Nothing,” he muttered. “Nothing at all.”
My Two Cents:
• The good:
- The idea of using “precogs” to prevent crime is a stroke of genius! It is one of the coolest ideas I have ever come across, and a big reason why “The Minority Report” is so famous.
- I am a huge fan of the 2002 movie, which I saw several times before reading this story. However, this is one case where both the movie and the story were extremely good! And they are different enough that I was able to enjoy the story without the plot being ruined for me. Rare indeed.
- Another rarity – this story is both action packed *and* has an interesting story line. That makes for one very fun and gratifying read!
• The bad:
- There is some language in “The Minority Report” that could be potentially offensive to some people. For example, the precogs are referred to as “three babbling, retarded idiots.” I doubt we would see any contemporary author use those terms, but keep in mind that this story was written in 1956.
• Page Count: 31
Where you can find “The Minority Report”:
- This short story first appeared in the January 1956 issue of Fantastic Universe.
- “The Minority Report” is included in the superb collection of short stories The Philip K. Dick Reader.
- You can read a free online version of this story at Google Books. (It starts on page 71. I was able to read the entire story online, but sometimes that’s not the case – try clearing your browser cache if you’re having problems seeing the whole thing.)
Some Interesting Links:
- You can learn more about the fascinating life of Philip K. Dick at Wikipedia.
- I’m sure you’ve heard of (or seen) the popular 2002 movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise. If not then here is the preview…
Craving More Stories?
If you enjoyed this story then you might also like Johnny Mnemonic, about a man with some sensitive information implanted in his head, who is running from a Yakuza hit man, by William Gibson.