A Short Comparison: Bladerunner (the movie) and
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book)

By Abrahim Harb

The film Bladerunner and the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Are both densely packed with material and take different approaches, yet get to the same point. Both the pieces of works of genius, and created with diligence and tediously crafts a image of the universe in 2021. Personally, I am not a sci-fi fan, but I was flabbergasted by the vibe created in the movie by Ridley Scott—but nobody can ever reach the level of intensity in a Phillip K. Dick novel. The idea of adapting a book into a movie, and changing it so the shell of the book remains, but the context is changed ever-so-slightly is gutsy move on the behalf of Scott.

The book, paints a picture of a post-nuclear apocalyptic Earth. Replicants (the equivalent of clones) are perfect reproductions of humans and manufactured to do physical labor on distant planets. Additionally, the extinction of actual animals was replaced by android pets, an attempt to control the entire world. It deals with society after and ‘Earth-changing event’ as well as explores the idea of self-identity. Which is identical to the film moreover, the ‘air cars’ they navigate around in are alike. Rick’s wife who does not approve of his job and humanity has abandoned Earth for the most part and moved to Mars. However, to help build on Mars humanity creates andy’s or replicants (as they are called in the book and movie respectively) to help them build a new life.

‘Human-kind’ comes across as extremely stupid and lazy in the book. The androids seem to act more human-like, than actual humans. They try to pass off artificial pets as real pets to their friends and neighbors. This book makes the characters come across as naïve. Especially when the androids escape, how could they create something—inputting artificial memories and not expect issues?

Rick has to administer a Voight-Kampff empathy test on Rachel, this is the point in the book where everything starts to wind up. Who is an andy and who is a real human becomes blurred after Rick is arrested by the police when they suspect his ID to be fake, when in reality the cops are andys.

When the book was adapted to a movie, the name was changed to Blade Runner to fit on a movie poster. The religious cult Mercerism is absent from the movie and Rick was retired from being a bounty hunter—which leads us to belief that he could indeed be an andy. What are the chances that at this point in time (during the movie) he would have to ‘retire’ andys—yet he himself it brought out of retirement? He seems to pause and look at photos too much, as other replicates do—they remember memories through photos, yet cannot recall them. The premise from the book was the same; however, the idea of artificial pets was removed as was much of the plot was.

In the movie, Rick has no wife, he keeps looking at photos of a woman and can assume that she either died or they divorced—or some other reason that Rick wishes to not discuss. In this version, the replicates are on a mission to ascertain how old they are and how much time they have left then try to go to where they got manufactured and extend it. The brilliant idea conveyed in the book that androids tend to come off as smarter is absent in the movie. The shell that holds all of the text together is the aspect dealing with the Androids/ replicates escaping, killing their owners and making their way to earth. In the book, Isodore works at a robotic repair service that is disguised as a pet hospital. This seemed to aid the owners to pass their robots animals off as real.