Blade Runner by Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter for the San Francisco police. He doesn’t hunt fugitive people – he hunts fugitive androids. Most of Earth’s animals and birds died and the planet is dying as well. Large amounts of the population have emigrated to other planets. On the colony planets androids are used to help with the work. But sometimes an android decides to become independent and sneaks back to Earth, away from its work environment. Sentient androids are not allowed on Earth so the human-like robots try to blend in with the populace. Deckard and those like him are paid to find the androids and “retire” them.
Deckard and his wife own an electronic sheep. It looks and acts like the real thing. Animals are rare and expensive. After their real sheep died they couldn’t afford another so they bought an electric one. Now Deckard dreams of catching enough “andies” to be able to buy another real animal. A group of six androids have recently come to Earth and some are in the San Francisco area. The newest models are more difficult to distinguish from people than the last model. Only a sophisticated emotion test can show the difference.
These androids are hiding out, blending in, or doing whatever they can to survive. They want the freedom that humans have. This group left behind damage when they left Mars. They are dangerous and focused on survival. They have already critically injured one top bounty hunter. Is Deckard next?
Any classic science fiction movie buff knows Blade Runner. I figured it was finally time for me to read the book. The book is fine, but this is one time that I like the movie better. Philip K. Dick’s dark world doesn’t quite come to life in the book. But it does have the irony of the acceptance of electric animals but not electric humans. The movie deals differently with the irony at the end instead. The animals are an important theme in the book, warning us of a potential environmental disaster.
Blade Runner doesn’t end in triumph or despair. It’s a window into one man’s life and how he deals with his unusual work and lifestyle. You know Deckard is going to have to work out his personal issues and you assume he will. This is classic Dick – not quite finishing, but instead leaving the reader to take the story from where he stopped. Yes, I liked the movie better. But the book isn’t shabby, either.