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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

After seeing the Final Cut of Blade Runner I decided the time has come to read the original novel. Blade Runner is based on Philip K. Dick's 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'. However, the term loosely based would be more appropriate.

Both the movie and the novel have the same starting situation and roughly the same plot. Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter is called in to track down a couple of androids who illegally landed on earth. His research takes him to a multinational company who manufactured these androids, where he hopes to prove the effectivity of the test used to detect these androids.

An analysis of the differences could fill a book all by itself, but I’ll try to cover some of the important ones.

Most importantly the world that the story is set in: Whereas Blade Runner shows us a future where overpopulation is still a problem and even though people might not be happy it is still possible to live on earth. In the novel earth is a wasteland, which is covered by a radioactive cloud caused by a devastating World War and thus most people have fled to colonies on Mars and other planets. To make life more bearable on earth the people have turned to Mercerism and empathy boxes, which simulate feelings.

The character of Rick Deckard also shows significant differences. Whereas in the movie he is a loner, a retired and respected bounty hunter who is called in because of the severity of the situation, he is married in the novel and more importantly always standing in the shadow of Dave Holden, the best bounty hunter in the city, he is only charged with this case because Holden was almost killed by one of the androids.

With all these differences it is surprising to find sequences in the book that have found their way into the movie almost unchanged, and even more surprising, when the consequences of these scenes stand in complete contrast.

What I’m trying to say with this is that I loved the book and that it is a worthy read even if you have seen the movie. You might even enjoy the story more knowing what happened in the movie.

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