Saw the movie, then read the book: ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’

This is going to be my new schtick. I’ve always had issues with reading a book, and then seeing the movie.  On many occasions I’ve seen a movie and thought, “Man this book would kick ass!” Sometimes that’s not always the case, but in recent years, there’s been an upsurge of remakes from the 80s, some of which were adapted from books. I’ll be reviewing books-to-movies and vice versa, starting with Phillip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ –> Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’.

 

Enjoy.

 

I saw Blade Runner probably not too long after it came out in 1982 and it only helped my massive crush on Harrison Ford as the flawed, broken Blade Runner, Rick Deckerd.

 

A dystopian, weirdly asian influenced future of a corrupted Earth – both in physical and social form. A scifi movie adapted from Phillip K. Dick’s book by Ridley Scott, this movie became a classic in the years after its release.  You have your fans of the director’s cut and of the theatrical release.  Does Rachael die or live? ‘It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?’ Oh Gaff, you weird son-of-a-bitch.

 

Then you have the book ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ which, in my opinion, the movie is only loosely based on.  Phillip K. Dick has a way of pulling you into a horribly mundane world where you are introduced to Decker as not the dark, anti-hero – skin-job hunter who force retires renegade androids. Decker wants a real pet. Decker has a wife, Iran. Decker is a lost, empty vessel of a man, trapped on a planet that is automated, desolate, and dying. A world with mood organ enhancers, androids who are beautiful and do not love you, that are not special, and want to kill you for what you are – their killer.

 

Ridley Scott’s version of Blade Runner resonated with me as burgeoning scifi nut. The cold, dark world full of flawed human beings, that have no instant loyalty, friends, and constantly have to prove to you their worth by their actions on a day to day, moment to moment basis. Decker isn’t doing the right thing, he’s just doing his job, of course, till he meets Rachael.  Rachael, the beautiful ‘daughter’ of Tyrell and the newest in the line of skin-jobs that come precariously close to mimicking human emotion, that Decker questions whether he could have passed the empathy test he had to give her.

 

Now, the book version – I found it dry, unfeeling, and of course everything you’d think an android’s point-of-view would be in that world. The book lacks empathy, in that you try to empathize with Decker’s empty life, but can’t. I get it, Dick is clever that way.  It was written in 1968, foretelling of a world in the not too distant future – Northern California, 1992 after World War Terminus and the radioactive fallout that has caused a mass exodus off Earth and away from its decaying life. A universe opened up to humans, but focuses on the mundane life of a man forced to kill androids who want beyond their creation.

 

It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?

 

I read the book 40 years after its publication.  About 26 years after the movie. Phillip K. Dick has a way with the future – the frailty of it, the wonder that enraptures all of us who are intrigued by the science fiction genre. You’re not a scifi nut unless you’ve read Phillip K. Dick and was impressed by the screenplays that used his books as springboards.  Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, Screamers, A Scanner Darkly, The Adjustment Bureau, and that’s just to name a handful.

 

‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep‘ ends with Decker finding a toad, a species thought to be extinct in the present day Earth. His wife tells him it is, in fact, synthetic. Decker doesn’t care and sees it for what he wants to, a real life animal that lives.

 

But then again, who does?

 

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