Joint Review: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”/”Blade Runner”

Let’s do this bullet point style:

  • The book was better as a whole, but the scene in the apartment complex between Decker and Baty in the movie is the best part of both the movie and the book. Nothing Dick wrote topped it. Leading to…
  • I wasn’t sure how I felt about the movie’s casting as a whole (Bryant in particular I didn’t like), but Ford as Decker and Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty were BRILLIANTLY cast. As said, the best scene in the entire Android/Blade Runner franchise is the chase between Decker and Batty in the apartment complex.
  • As for the book, it was pretty fascinating but ended on a confusing note. I never really got how mercerism worked. How did they get hit by rocks when they weren’t actually there? And what was Decker’s supposed revelation at the end of the novel?
  • This isn’t really a criticism, more like an observation, but I’m not quite sure what Dick’s point was. Did he think Decker was a good guy or a bad guy? Did he think the androids were human or not? Was DECKER a good guy or bad guy? I’m not buying the whole “shades of gray” deal on this one. Either Decker is a murderer or he isn’t, and I don’t know what Dick thinks. I guess that’s the sign of a good writer.
  • Unlikeable as the androids are, it seems pretty obvious to me that they’re rational people with free will and the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. So whatever Dick or anybody else thought, Decker is a killer.
  • Dick’s world-building is awe-inspiring. That alone makes the novel brilliant.
  • The movie did a terrific job capturing the vision of the book. Where it failed was pacing. When it was good it was outstanding. When it was bad, it was dull.
  • I know there are a billion different versions of “Blade Runner”. I’m pretty sure I saw the theatrical cut, and I get why the director disliked that ending. Ambiguity would have been more effective.
  • I really want to emphasize how terrific Rutger Hauer did with his portrayal of Batty. He gave a level of depth to his character achieved by none of the androids in the novel – not even Rachael. His dying speech is, naturally, one of the great scenes in movie history.

Good book, good movie. Read the book first, and enjoy both.

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4 Responses to Joint Review: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”/”Blade Runner”

  1. Alright! Time to comment! Especially as one who, seeing several scifi movies coming out and noting the author inspiring them, went on a bit of a PKD binge. So I might have some additions for you here.

    The book was better as a whole, but the scene in the apartment complex between Decker and Baty in the movie is the best part of both the movie and the book. Nothing Dick wrote topped it. Leading to…

    I wasn’t sure how I felt about the movie’s casting as a whole (Bryant in particular I didn’t like), but Ford as Decker and Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty were BRILLIANTLY cast. As said, the best scene in the entire Android/Blade Runner franchise is the chase between Decker and Batty in the apartment complex.

    You know I’ve never really “got” Blade Runner, but I get that and you are right. The climax is well done.

    As for the book, it was pretty fascinating but ended on a confusing note. I never really got how mercerism worked. How did they get hit by rocks when they weren’t actually there? And what was Decker’s supposed revelation at the end of the novel?

    This isn’t really a criticism, more like an observation, but I’m not quite sure what Dick’s point was. Did he think Decker was a good guy or a bad guy? Did he think the androids were human or not? Was DECKER a good guy or bad guy? I’m not buying the whole “shades of gray” deal on this one. Either Decker is a murderer or he isn’t, and I don’t know what Dick thinks. I guess that’s the sign of a good writer.

    For better or worse, that is a kind of hallmark of PKD. If I said “not even he knows what he’s thinking” that’s not really hyperbole, the man had some weird IRL views on reality and its nature. I’ve got some collections of his with notes in the back of it on the stories usually from the author himself and sometimes stories did get away from him. For instance, what I consider his single worst story is one called “the Unreconstructed M”. It’s just a mess and bad. But the man could do really good, GREAT stories at time but almost every story was him examining the implications of things, regardless of his opinion (in that respect, he is an inspiration to me as a writer).

    To give an example, in one collection there are two stories back to back, both of which involve a man who has the power to travel along his own timeline physically. (so it’s not his own adult mind jumping back into his child body, but his physical adult body actually swaps with the child body) In the first story, this guy is practically a messiah, able to accomplish almost anything. In the second story, the guy is a tragic, almost comical figure trying to prevent an apocalypse that happens at the end of his life and is unable to. That PKD can take an identical motif and play with it in two opposite directions is noteworthy as a writer.

    Dick’s world-building is awe-inspiring. That alone makes the novel brilliant.

    Agreed there. My favorite (so far) story that he’s done is called “the Variable Man”. It’s one of my 3 picks for story I would most love to adapt to a script and see put on stage/screen.

    The movie did a terrific job capturing the vision of the book. Where it failed was pacing. When it was good it was outstanding. When it was bad, it was dull.

    Ah thank you! That was my problem I had articulating. It’s pacing is quite poor and there are a few other things that bother me but those could be over looked.

    Oh and of course, SF Debris vid on Blade Runner. 😀

    • Thanks for the link. Their sporking is PERFECT.

      I always intended to write a final review of “Stars” and never got around to it. It got a little better, with the exception of that awful Amsterdam sequence, but ultimately it’s still a five out of ten. The problem is Augustus. Green writes with good intentions, trying not to romanticize cancer patients, but that’s exactly what he does, and he doesn’t even realize it.

      And it doesn’t ring true. Their love, after knowing each other for a few weeks, is true and pure and beautiful, and we know this is the truth because Augustus is Hazel’s wet dream. He has to be if his death is going to be the most Tragic Thing Ever.

    • As for “Androids”, I don’t know. For some reason it felt a little…hollow to me. Great books, to me, end with a feeling of satisfaction or awe, or at least a sense of closure. I got none of the 3. Decker had his long deserved peace, and I think that was supposed to be profound, but I didn’t know why he had it. What changed, really?

      Decker is a great character, complex and interesting.

      But there were great scenes. Pris ripping the legs off the spider was chilling.

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