Book Report: Total Recall


Total Recall – By Piers Anthony

Book Report By Vincent

Oh this is an exciting one. Not only do I get to report on a book that is a book based on a movie, which is based on a short story, but Total Recall is one of my favorite action/sci-fi movies of all time. Furthermore, I love to read goofy adaptations like this once in awhile. I had to fill my brain with a bit of book based junk food after I, Robot.

Anyway, the first thing you should know about Total Recall the novel adaptation is one of those oddball books that’s based on a movie, which in turn is based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. The Total Recall movie and the short story have very little in common, much like Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but even more so than in that case. Poor Philip K. Dick.  Granted I love both movie versions of his works, but is there another author whose works have been so brutalized by Hollywood?

The novel adaptation of Total Recall is written by Piers Anthony. Anthony has got some real cred in the world of sci-fi literature, so I had more faith in this puppy than I would ever have in a book written by someone like the adaptation machine Max Allan Collins. I’ve never read a book by Anthony before, but he was like a good brand to me. Unfortunately, I have to guess that this is not his strongest work. That or I hope his style changed, because it was driving me nuts. I’m speaking in particular about an overuse of exlamation marks. They’re all over the place! Back when I had hopes and dreams, I used to read a lot of “how to write” type books! While most of the knowledge gained from those books has gone (I mean, just look at this site), I do remember that in one they said that 99% of sentences should end in a period or a question mark! I see why now! Constant exclamation points can get really annoying!

The novel basically follows the movie, but there is a bit here and there in order to fill in gaps that you didn’t really know existed. For example, it covers the rocket trip Arnold took to get to Mars. It also fills in a lot of who the aliens where who built the machine in the volcano and why they did so without ever activating. While I did find this part interesting, I actually preferred the mystery. Still, it was kind of neat to know that if the bad guys had destroyed the machine, that it pretty much would have spelled the end for humanity.

The novelization of Total Recall includes a plot twist that either isn’t in the movie or doesn’t come through from the script to screen. Remember that scene where the video of Hauser starts playing and he explains that he wants his body back? According to this book, that was just a ploy and Hauser was really a good guy at that moment and he was bluffing when… blah blah… it needlessly complicates things and takes away from a great twist as played out in the film.

Overall, I did find that Total Recall was more enjoyable compared to other TV/movie tie-in books like the ’89 Batman novelization. There were some great expansions that helped fill in the gaps a little and gave a little more depth. For instance, did you know that Quaid wanted to bang or thought about banging every woman he meets? Yep, he’s exactly like the real life Arnold Schwarzenegger.

  • Esbatty

    Last time I read one of your book reports, the “Rise of Darth Vader” one, it totally killed as a birthday gift for my Dad. So just poppin’ in to say thanks for helping me find him something that he wasn’t even aware of regarding Luke’s punk-ass, baby killin’ father!

  • Haha awesome dude! Glad I could help out. Hope you can find other gift ideas in the future.