Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 012 Blade Runner aka Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

2015 Reading Challenge Book 012 Blade Runner AKA Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick

BOOK TITLE-Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)
AUTHOR-Philip K Dick
COST-10 cents

Yeah first off I know the book's title is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. And I own at least 2 copies with that title on the cover instead of Blade Runner in a huge font with the real title in a much smaller font below it. Factor in that this is the 5th copy of this book that I own,you would assume that either I am crazy or that I really really love this novel.Both options are right.

Why own 5 copies of a book? When none of them are worth more than cover price. Simple,but it will take a bit to explain. So if you want my long ass back story on Blade Runner and DADoEC read ahead. If you just want to hear my thoughts on the novel skip to the next paragraph. OK settle down this will take a bit. Around my birthday in 1982 my favorite uncle took me to see a film I had been begging to see. I had seen ads for it on TV and in the newspaper. It seemed to be some kind of science fiction movie.Plus it had Harrison Ford as the lead. Thanks to Star Wars,Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark I was a huge Ford fan. I saw Ford as the lead and that the film was science fiction and went in expecting something like Star Wars. I left the theater almost 2 hours later majorly disappointed.The movie was nothing like Star Wars. Ford was a mopey guy who talked too much. 3 or 4 years later I saw Blade Runner was going to be the WLOX Saturday Late Night movie. There was nothing else airing that I wanted to see so I gave the movie a second chance. And my opinion totally changed on the film. I went from hating it to loving it. From then,which was 86 or so until 97 I slowly collected every version of the film I could get. Cause for various reasons there is currently 5 officially released versions of the film. Blade Runner is one of the major reasons I spent way too much on a laserdisc player. But oddly even though I was a major fanatic of the film,I didn't read the novel it is somewhat based on for a long ass time.Fall of 98 I had went on a week long vacation with my family to a rural area of MS,which almost 20 years later is fairly close to where I live now. There was never much to for me to do when I came up to this area to visit friends of the family. The two highlights was the friends we stayed with had Dish Network with one of those cards where you got everything for free. And 2 towns over was this great used bookstore.I had thought ahead and brought a stack of blank vhs tapes with me to record movies off the dish. Late late one night I recorded Blade Runner off what I think was IFC. While watching it for what had to be the 30th time,during the credits I noticed the title of the novel it was based on. The next day we went to the used bookstore and I found on the shelves a copy of the novel. It looks almost exactly like the one pictured above. Except for it doesn't have the 25th Anniversary Edition text above the Blade Runner title.Got this paperback for free. My mother had traded in two huge bags of books. Got close to 200 bucks in store credit and told me to grab some books. Once I got home and was back at work I threw the paperback into my bookbag I carried to work. One day I had nothing to do so I pulled it out and started reading it. A bit over 3 hours later and I had finished it. For those that have just seen the movie,the novel is very very different. I will go into more details later on. For years that paperback was my only copy. I read it once a year and it was getting pretty beat up. So it is winter of 2008,I had moved the previous fall. Found out that to goto a bookstore I would have to goto Jackson. Was up there with family when I spotted a B.Daltons. I got dropped off there while the rest of the family went to shop at Hobby Lobby or some similar type store. I walk in and find out they are closing in 2 weeks. Everything is marked down. I only had 50 bucks on me. But knew once my family was back I could borrow more if it was needed.I had already did a blitzkrieg style attack on the comic book,movie reference and horror sections. When I made it to the science fiction section. On the end cap was a sign saying "Employee's faves" I look and see a nice hardcover book titled "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." I grab it and flip it over to see the price. It was 12 bucks and was marked at 90% off. I couldn't pass it up.Not only was it a hardcover,and I prefer to have my favorite books in hardcover format if at all possible. But it also had the original and right title on the cover. So now I had 2 copies.
Gotta love that cover. Looks like something I would have seen in an issue of Heavy Metal in the late 70s.

Skip ahead a year or two,I am in the bookstore in the antique mall in Diberville I know I mention all the time. Doing the usually 7 books for $5 deal. Pickings were slim this time.I had 5 books I wanted. Turned a corner and found a trade paperback sized version of DADoES. And right next to it a horror movie reference book. YAY  I got 7 books to make the deal.
While not as eye catching as the hardcover,this trade paperback cover is still a nice piece of art.

Then sometime in 2013 or 2014 I was at my local library perusing the media they had for sale. When I found the paperback I put the picture of at the top of this long ass rambling diarrhea of the mouth review. I grabbed it because it was cheap,and the money helps out the library. Plus the slight difference on the cover I have already mentioned.So that is how and why I own 4 copies of the same novel.

On with the review of the book. Set in 2021,Deckard is a miserable married man.He works as a blade runner. A for hire killer  of a type of android that looks human. Acts human most of the time. But is built with a short life span. They are made to be servants and for hard labor jobs on Mars and other off world colonies. The Earth is a polluted mess. The people that can leave have. But thanks to pollution and lingering radiation a big amount of the population is sick and not allowed to leave Earth. This pollution and other nastiness has almost wiped out all the animals on the Earth. So much so that owning any kind of animal is a sign of wealth and privilege. Deckard owns a fake sheep. That is so well made people think it is real. He worries all the time that his neighbors will learn his sheep is fake.

Deckard is about to retire when a group of replicants,the name given to the almost human androids,escape from Mars and land on Earth. Another blade runner at first takes the job. The only way to tell a replicant from a human is how they react emphatically to what is called the Voight-kamp test. A series of questions that show how the test taker would reaction in situations that to us would be common place but in this far future dystopian  world are considered horrific.If someone fails this test they are a replicant and "retired" by the blade runner. "Retired" is the word they use because to the blade runners and other humans the replicants aren't really alive. So you can't really kill something that was never alive. During the test one of the escaped replicants attacks and takes out this other blade runner. So the head of the police station Deckard works out of calls in Deckard. And offers him a deal.If he can get retire all the escaped replicants in an certain amount of time he will get a huge bonus. Deckard figures out if he can manage this not only can he finally retire but he could afford to own a real animal.

Over the course of tracking down and killing the group of replicants Deckard has a few things happen that cause him to question if he isn't a replicant and just doesn't know it. This first starts when he finds what seems to be a hidden police station. Where everyone is a replicant. At one point he even ask himself the titular question. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? As the book progresses,I at least,come to see that the replicants,who are supposedly machines not capable of empathy and real emotions.Not only show more emotions for each other ,but actually show some empathy for a mentall challenge human who has helped them hide. Were as with Deckard he starts showing less emotion and before he retires the final replicant of the group he has a moment of clarity.

I have had to write this entry 4 times now. I love this book so  much I was writing paragraph after paragraph about it. I believe that if you are a fan of science fiction this book is a must read. If you like the movie this book is a must read.If you are even just a fan of books that cause you to think once you finish reading them this book is a must read. Since the first time I read this novel I have considered it one of my favorite books and one of the best novels I have ever read.Which is why I try to read it once a year. The paperback pictured at the top is 242 pages and this time I read it over the course of 5 nights. Usually taking my sleep meds,grabbing it and reading for the 20 to 30 minutes it takes my sleep meds to take effect.But there has been times I have sat down and read the entire book in one sitting. This is the novel that anytime I meet someone that tells me they are a fan of science fiction literature I ask if they have read it. If not I end up loaning them one of my copies. And usually bugging the hell out of them until they read it. So far this technique has a decent batting average. Over the past 20 years I have gotten 8 people to read DADoEC. Out of those 8 five loved it. 1 really liked it .And the other 2 hated it. One of them isn't a person that liked reading between the lines or books that ask you to think hard about something. The other person,hell I have no idea why they hated it. When asked all they said was "It was so bad I barely managed to finish it."Strangely this same person loves the film. Oh well,6 people enjoyed it.

Blade Runner AKA Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep gets a perfect 5 outta 5.