After putting off reading much of Philip K. Dick’s works due to their price on Amazon, I discovered that my local library has much of them in print. So this past weekend I read the story that Blade Runner was based on. There was a fascinating use of machinery to alter human mood and to stimulate religious-esque experiences. I was caught off guard by these fictional devices and haven’t encountered a similar mechanic in sci-fi writings before, and the closest analogue I can think of is “soma” from Brave New World, or other substances which are abused.
That said, I found myself constantly comparing the text to both Hollywood productions. I believe that each film stands as fine art in their own right, equal to, or even exceeding the written source material. I have to give credit to Dick for creating such an interesting scenario and world to tell his story within. I also have to hand it to the Blade Runner crews for creating such compelling movies that realize his world so well.
To contrast them all, I feel like Do Androids Dream was a bit darker in it’s portrayal of the protagonist and his personal struggles in life and marriage. He felt really human and flawed. The story felt like Dick was trying to give a glimpse into a possible future, and attempting to predict what human engineered beings might be like and how we might interact with them. Both films seemed to take a different approach however.
I feel like the films tackled the philosophical question of “what does it mean to be human?” much more directly and explicitly. I have to say that I enjoyed the mental struggles of the films a bit more, perhaps because of the strong use of visual imagery which I found very compelling. Also, Harrison Ford plays such a strong role that he really carries the films to another level.
I’ll be reading more Philip K. Dick and will offer more thoughts as I complete them. So far I’ve enjoyed the short stories and this novel pretty well, but not as much as I thought I would. The ideas are compelling, just not favorites at this point.