Do Androids Vs Blade Runner.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was written by Philip K Dick, one of the kings of Sci-Fi and till this day, due to cinema and pop culture, some would argue that his most famous and talked about works include Man in the High Castle and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. 

Now, I will warn you before you go too deep into this review, it is going to be a hard struggle for me to be both bias and unbiased since the two I am talking about today are in my top ten for both movie and books; but I WILL TRY, I will try and not be too kissy about them both. 

So the book, Do Androids, was first published in 1968, giving it that deep, almost political insight that we say was ahead of his time in the same sort of way that we say it about Orwell and Huxley. In fact, Dick is quite renowned for his comments on society, military and politics and the clever way he hid them within the genre of Science Fiction; although hidden may not be the right word, since the underlying atmosphere of doom was quite noticeable. The book is based in a futuristic, post apocalyptic San Francisco, where most of the world has been damaged by Nuclear War; including animal species equalling to almost extinct. With this, people in this time could purchase, ultimately robotic, animals and depending on what animal you had, it would show things like class and wealth, etc. Our main character Rick Deckard, is the not-so proud owner of one electric sheep and I'll tell you now, just in case you're worried or even confused, our story revolves mainly around Deckard, not his sheep.

We follow Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter, a 'Blade Runner', ultimately a soldier/cop type whose sole occupational purpose is to 'retire' androids, 6 of which have gone rogue and have become fugitives. As we follow Deckard's search and killing of the first few androids, we read a lot about Deckard and the issues with himself, this constant dullness that comes from the robot animals he can't afford, his wife and his brief affair with Rachel. However, Deckard isn't the only voice of the book we also have John Isidore, an isolated man who ends up helping some of the fugitive androids.

One note I do want to make, is even though I adore this book, if I hadn't finished it I wouldn't of. I know that may sound weird, but I actually struggled to read this book the first couple of times I tried because the first couple of chapters just didn't massively draw me in; so one day I powered through those chapters again and continued on and it was one of those books that was completely worth it and you realise you needed those first few bits to connect with later elements.

Ultimately the book has large themes on; humanity, human behaviour, condition and even conscience. There's a lot of questions of empathy and who can feel what be you human or android; all on top of visual wonder/wasteland that people love so much visually in the film adaptation.

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Blade Runner was released in cinema's in 1982 and sadly Philip K Dick died just before he was able to see it. The film was directed by Alien legend Ridley Scott with an unforgettable soundtrack by Vangelis. Harrison Ford played our lead Deckard with other great stars such as Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer playing the main, in the film mainly known as, Replicants. 

Now although the narrative is similar in the sense of we follow Deckard taking out the Replicants one by one, there are also a lot of differences and a much wider spread spotlight;

  • In the movie, Deckard doesn't have a sheep; if he did, I didn't see it, should we be worried about it? WHERE'S YOUR SHEEP GONE DUDE?!
  • In the movie, the affair between Deckard and Rachel is actually a love story rather than affair; with no present wife of Deckard's and the relationship we see grow between him and Rachel. In the book, Rachel was barely in it and it jumped from conversation-sexual intercourse-her being annoyed at him.
  • We are much more emotionally involved with the Replicants in the movie specifically Pris and Roy who convey this believable ideal of love; also these new actions of theirs give a perfect excuse for some unforgettable cinematography.
  • The speech at the end of the movie which is so, indescribably legendary, was of course written by Rutger during the filming so was not in the book.
  • John Isidore was renamed to J. F. Sebastian and although the kind personalities of characters matched, J R's weird toy collection didn't; again, great cinematography. 
  • In the book, there was no owl. 
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I could talk about both book and film for hours, but the ultimate point here is a fight between the two; a 'if you had to pick one, what one would you pick?' and boy have I set myself a difficult one!

First off, the book is great, it's not too long and I think is one of the works that truly encompasses everything interesting and scarily possible with Philip K Dick and the movie is one of the ultimate's for any Sci-Fi, Cyberpunk, Bunker Hiding, film nerd so, yes I would BIASLY recommend either and both. But if this is your first time, here's where the fight would end;

I would watch Blade Runner before you read Do Androids and I know, I can feel all fellow book nerds taking in a sharp breath and giving me the finger but trust me, especially if you have never read Philip before, go in with the visuals first because it will make you not only appreciate what you read a lot more, it will also help you to understand it. Obviously you can maybe make your own decision based on the differences; ultimately you're given the choice of do you want a little more stability in your love affairs and see Rutger Hauer make film magic in just boxers? Or do you want the glorious misery and bitter sweetness of a man who kills and a man who helps and a bunch of robot people and, well, sheep?

I wanted to finish off on ratings for both, purely for times like this when I review my favourites and I can shake off some guilt for saying that that specific one would have to die in a life or death situation! You may be asking 'So why the hell do this?' and I thought for a while to come up with a smart answer and all I could come up with was 'I know you are but what am I?' so...

In conclusion, if I had to use the traditional star rating; I'd give the movie 5 stars and the book 3.9, because I'm awkward like that. There's only so many times I can say this, but both are brilliant, definitely worth the time and the love.

Side note; if you've never read Philip and always wanted to - Ubik. Trust me.


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