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Bladerunner -- Philip K. Dick Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Sunday, 09 November 2008

Bladerunner

Most people have heard of Bladerunner as a movie.  A few people know that this movie was based off a book by Philip K. Dick titled Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep. After the success of the movie Dick's book was republished and retitled as Bladerunner.  I have seen the movie a couple of times (I still don't see why it is considered one of the best sci-fi movies ever) and when I ran across the book in the library I thought it would be worth a read.  It was.

As is often the case, the book was better than the movie.  The book was also different than the movie.  A couple of the book characters made it into the movie. The basic framework for the story did as well.  But the plot was different.  Dick purposefully explores the definition of reality and what it means to be a human. In short, he seems to be challenging the notion that man is simply a machine.  In his futuristic world, from a behavioral and appearance point of view humans and androids are indistinguishable.  It is only when the emotional aspects of the individual are probed that the difference can be found.

This then raises the moral question of how the androids should be treated.  Deckard, the main character, is a bounty hunter hired to "retire" androids.  Yet he begins to wrestle with the basic moral question of whether what he is doing is right or not.  It is even getting into the definition of killing.  Can you "kill" a machine when the machine wasn't ever alive, it was just "functioning"?

Fans of the movie should read the book.  It is short and a quick read.  It doesn't take away from the movie but instead it adds more depth.  The edition I read had a short discussion about how the book got converted into the movie.  It was interesting to see how that progressed.

 

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