I had wanted to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick for some time. I was aware that it was the inspiration for Bladerunner. When I hear about “inspiration,” I think of a fairly loose connection, something like the connection between the book and movie of World War Z.
I was surprised at how closely Bladerunner followed Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? There are definitely differences. In the novel, one of the themes is that most animals and even insects have died as the result of radioactive dust. Having an animal contributes to social status. As a result, those who can’t afford a real animal purchase artificial animals, not genetically created animals like the androids/replicants but mechanical animals. Hence the “electric sheep.”
There are also other elements such as empathy machines, a religious system, television entertainers and colonies on other planets. The androids are identified by administering psychological assessments. But in all that, there is the same basic story. A bounty hunter has the job to retire androids. These are androids that have escaped their masters on another planet and have fled to earth.
The novel is very thought-provoking. For example, what is life, and why is it acceptable to kill them? There are also religious questions and reflections about the nature of faith. There is a reason why Dick is considered one of the best science fiction writers. It is a book definitely worth reading.