Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? / Blade Runner

More than any of the works we’ve looked at so far, Blade Runner has become a franchise, in that the copyright holder is a corporation that both defends the work and actively seeks marketing opportunities.  There are no official action figures, but there certainly is a fan base that seeks out new material.

 

There was a stage adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Edward Einhorn that played in New York in 2010:

http://www.untitledtheater.com/previous-productions/do-androids-dream-of-electr.html

Here is an NYT review:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/04/theater/04android.html

 

There have been comic book adaptations of both Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.  The Blade Runner comic came first, in 1982, as part of the Marvel Comics Super Special series.  It doesn’t seem to be available in any area libraries, but I found a pretty detailed blog post about it:

http://imagesdegradingforever.blogspot.com/2013/01/like-tears-in-rain.html

The Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? comic is by Tony Parker, and was published in 2009.  NYPL and John Jay have it.  Here is the Web site for it (note the line “the inspiration for Blade Runner” on the cover):

http://www.boom-studios.com/do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-vol-1-hardcover.html

 

There have been two Blade Runner video games.  The first was released in 1985 for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC.  The cover for this game claims, somewhat bizarrely, that it is “a video game interpretation of the film score by Vangelis”.  This is apparently due to licensing issues, although I can’t find much in the way of details.  Some info here:

http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0000561

 

The second game adaptation came out in 1997 for Windows, and was much more successful.  It is a story-oriented adventure game, rather than an action game like the older adaptation.  Wikipedia has plenty of info:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner_(1997_video_game)

There is a play-through video in multiple parts, starting here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHkAZlq4HBs

 

Searching eBay for “Blade Runner action figure” turns up some knockoffs under names like “Blade Hunter” and “Android Hunter”:

http://www.ebay.com/bhp/blade-runner-action-figure

 

Perhaps the Do Androids derivatives that are of the most theoretical interest are three novels, Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human (1995), Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night (1996), Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon (2000; also known as Beyond Orion), written by K.W. Jeter, a friend of Dick’s who also wrote novels set in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes.  The three “Blade Runner” novels are apparently meant to serve as sequels to both Dick’s novel and the film; Wikipedia claims that they “attempt to reconcile many of the differences between the novel and the film”.  The Wikipedia page for Blade Runner 2 has a list of some elements that the sequel borrows from either the novel or the film, as well as a finicky list of ways in which it contradicts them.

 

Blade Runners 2 and 3 are available at main branch NYPL.  Blade Runner 4 has never been published in the US, and is harder to find here.  It could probably be gotten through ILL.

 

There have been a handful of other sequels and sort-of sequels to adaptations of Dick’s novel—although we might not want to count them of as sequels to the novel itself.  David Peeples, co-writer of Blade Runner, claimed that his later movie Soldier was a “sidequel” to Blade Runner.  There is also a sequel to the Tony Parker comic adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, entitled Dust to Dust.  I can’t find a copy of this in a library, but there is some info here:

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=25995

 

The TV series Total Recall 2070 is primarily based on the film Total Recall, which was adapted from Dick’s short story “We Can Remember it For You Wholesale”, but it also borrows aspects of Do Androids/Blade Runner.  Here is the two-part pilot on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuR_yTKCnYI 

 

Last but not least, in a somewhat bizarre reversal, Dick was offered $400,000 to write a novelization of the film Blade Runner, which he turned down.  He discusses the negotiation in this interview:

https://web.archive.org/web/20121015191316/http://philipkdick.com/media_twilightzone.html

What we ended up with instead is the “movie tie-in” version of the novel, which has been retitled Blade Runner:

http://www.amazon.com/Blade-Runner-Movie-Tie-In-Edition-Philip/dp/0345350472

4 thoughts on “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? / Blade Runner

  1. The Marvel “Blade Runner” comic comes in two parts, and fairly accurately adapts the plot of the film – although Al Williamson is nowhere near as detailed or kinetic an illustrator as Ridley Scott’s comic-inspiration, “Heavy Metal” artist Moebius (why couldn’t they just get him? Williamson’s history with Marvel and movie adaptations notwithstanding). The comic doesn’t really add anything new at all, except for relaying Gaff’s actual dialogue with Deckard during the flight of the Spinner (the flying cop-car) which is included in the script but edited out in all versions of the film. One of his lines is pretty interesting; as he berates Deckard he says “Pretty soon the public will want skin jobs for enforcement, I guess YOU’D prefer that, huh?”, an ironic rhetorical questions that adds another (slight) facet to the “Is Deckard A Replicant?” debate. In the film, we never get this exchange, but Gaff’s lips can be seen to move, only to be drowned out by Vangelis’ soundtrack – it seems the audience is made to ignore Gaff right along with Deckard. In the comic, Gaff’s word-bubbles are harsh and angular, and the typeface is different from any other characters’, in an attempt to display his penchant for city-speak, but everything he “says” has automatically been translated for the comic reader. On a smaller note, the comic writer flubs several lines of dialogue for reasons unknown (Copyrightings? Poor memory? Creative license? Access to a different script?), transforming Roy Batty’s classic “All these moments will be lost in time like… Tears… In rain… Time to die.” into the much less amazing “All these moments, they’ll be gone.” But, we do get a brief explanation of the term “Blade Runner”. As Deckard and Rachel race across the mountainous countryside in Deckard’s sedan, Deckard’s monologue reads “Blade Runner. You’re always movin’ on the edge.” which reflects several advertisements for the film that read similarly. Do we accept this as the meaning behind the usage of the term “blade runner”? It seems kind of flimsy, as far as the fictional logic behind the name goes, but I guess advertisers and Marvel comics were just as confused about the nomenclature as many of the general audience were.

  2. I wish I could have seen the Edward Einhorn stage adaptation from 2010 listed above. As the New York Times review states, “Einhorn’s new stage adaptation, which imagines a future populated by humans and androids difficult to distinguish from one another, aims to reclaim the spirit of the book.” It sounds like this theater adaptation tried to remain loyal to the plot of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep instead of remaking the Blade Runner film. The article also claims that the Blade Runner film has become so popular that many viewers do not know that it is an adaptation. As we discussed in class, I wonder, is it necessary for viewers to know that Blade Runner is an adaptation? What do viewers gain once they are aware of the original work?

    The differences between the original novel and the film are apparent and I wonder why certain choices were made. For example, in the novel, Rick Deckard is an extremely unhappily married man, and his wife’s depression creates an entire side-story that isn’t explored in the film, from the use of the empathy boxes that control and share their emotions, etc. Mercerism is also not explored in the films, either, but is a huge religious and political power that is hovering over the novel’s landscape. The most glaring difference is that the novel’s femme fatale Rachel turned into a sympathetic and passive character in Ridley Scott’s film. The android’s are colder in the novel- Rachel uses her body to distract Rick from killing other androids, yet doesn’t kill him. I also think that the fact that Rachel and Pris are made from the “same model” further de-humanizes them and this would have been interesting if portrayed in the movie. However, because the movie focuses on the romance between Rick and Rachel, it makes more sense to choose to have her as an individual who did not know she was an android and looks unique, since this humanizes her. As an additional note, I sincerely wish that Rachel pushed Deckard’s goat off the roof wearing her snake-skin lingerie in the film. The importance of the animals and the anxiety that fake vs. real animals cause in terms of class dynamic is highly emphasized in the novel, but not as much in the film, although the animals are shown explained as being fake. Going back to the review on the Edward Einhorn adaptation, the NYT reivew states that the androids are so advanced that they seem more empathetic than Deckard himself. This remains true in both the novel and the film adaptation, which is why there is so much debate on whether Deckard is an android or not. I’m voting that he is an android.

    And here’s a lovely little art print I found that emphasizes one of the only parts in the film where Rachel and Deckard interact romantically: https://www.etsy.com/listing/87333560/do-you-love-me-illustration-print?ref=shop_home_active. (Are we considering art prints adaptations?) Regarding the quotation in the print, does Rachel only say this because she is trained as an android to please? This is one theory I have come across while researching Blade Runner. Additionally, I have seen three versions of Blade Runner, one of which ends with a happy ending with Deckard and Rachel driving into the distance, clearly a cliche Hollywood ending that does not fit in with the tone of the film. I think we should also have a discussion on the significance of Gaff and the origami that he leaves throughout the film, but again this goes back to the Asian-infused landscape of the movie.

    There is a lot more to say of course, and I’m excited for the presentation and debate between John and Makeba that is sure to take place on Tuesday!

    • I forgot to mention this, but Roy Batty is a much more sympathetic character in the film version than in the novel. I find that adaptations tend to do this- make the villain someone that the audience sympathizes with, or even roots for. Do we see this as a positive change or a negative one?

  3. l’m reserving judgment on the film until I finish the book and we have our epic showdown/debate on Tuesday, but as someone who had never seen Blade Runner or read Dick’s novel before, I’m interested in the way Blade Runner has become shorthand for a particular (technological) vision of the not-too-distant future–how it has entered our cultural lexicon in way that, although I actually had no clue what the details of the plot were going to be in the film, I was relatively unsurprised by the premise, setting and styling.

    Consider J.J. Abrams new television show, airing in November: “Almost Human,” which Entertainment Weekly describes as “set 35 years into the future when humans in the Los Angeles Police Department are paired up with life-like androids.” EW then begins another article by asking if the reader “Ever wanted to see a Blade Runner TV show?” before launching into a review.

    A lot of articles and reviews of the show reference Blade Runner without… actually referencing it, several times using the term in the title or even only the title-tag but never the actual article. For instance, cinemachords.com calls it “Lethal Weapon By Way of Blade Runner;” Zap2it title-tagged the post “almost-human-foxs-new-show-mixes-blade-runner-and-nypd-blue.html.” The show is called “‘Blade Runner’-ish sci-fi” by NewsDay. The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with Abrams that, I think, really brings home the way we think of and describe (and perhaps lure viewers to) TV shows–by what came before, by their seriality, by their references, and by the idea of ‘universes,’ the (fan)fictional element (that Aya can probably speak about far more eloquently than I can). Abrams seems somewhat ambivalent about tying his new show to Blade Runner or other Sci-Fi lodestones, perhaps in a bid to reach a broader fan base? He states in the interview:
    “I think this is a show that if you are a fan of sci-fi. If you’re a fan of Blade Runner, if you’re a fan of [Isaac] Asimov or [Ray] Bradbury, you’ll see this and you’ll go, ‘This feels like this is something in that universe,’ but the truth is the show is being made for people who go, ‘I want to see a great procedural. I want to see a great crime drama, great characters in very unique situations.’ That’s the thrust of what we’re trying to do here.”

    The idea of something feeling like it belongs in a particular “universe” seems so integral to our conversation about adaptation, but I’m torn in deciding whether it is could be classified as a positive indicator of adaptation or a way of distinguishing adaptation from interpretation.

    http://insidetv.ew.com/tag/almost-human/
    http://cinemachords.com/promo-trailer-for-almost-human-dubbed-as-a-ro-bromance/
    http://blog.zap2it.com/frominsidethebox/2013/08/almost-human-foxs-new-show-mixes-blade-runner-and-nypd-blue.html
    http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/tv/tv-zone-1.811968/fox-s-almost-human-gets-two-night-launch-1.6298467
    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/almost-human-jj-abrams-tricks-632596

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