Let’s make no mistake, the Audible Bladerunner narrated by Scott Brick, is actually the unabridged version of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. If you’re expecting the narrated version of the film, with moving speeches from Roy Batty and games of chess between Tyrell and Sebastian, you’re in for a disappointment. Good news is, if you want the unabridged original Philip K Dick novel, you’re in for a treat.
Scott Brick has done a good job of narrating the novel, and capturing the mood and quirks of all it’s characters, and the oddness of the whole thing. When I read it years ago, I found it hard going, it was a very odd story, with Deckard hunting down the skinjobs in a post-apocalyptic world, with Earth now suffering with fallout and radiation since World War Terminus. A lot of the plot from the film is in there, but with notable differences, the chicken head (brain being deteriorated by the radiation) J.R. Isidore is J.F. Sebastian with his premature decrepitude. The Rosen Corporation was changed to the Tyrell Corporation for the film, and Mercerism was totally removed.
In a world where nuclear war has buggered the atmosphere, the U.N. advises people to take to the skies and live on Mars, in colonies where androids (comically nicknamed andies) are used for all the hardest and most hideous jobs, and the human race can try to rebuild. When a group of them flee to Earth to escape their kind of slavery, they are hunted down by bounty hunters. Deckard’s fellow bounty hunter Dave Holden is in hospital injured after failing to nail one of them, and so it is down to Deckard to finish the job.
The novel itself is superb, it’s not fast paced or frantic, it’s more to the pace which fits the drudgery of a world which has been ruined, and left to crumble while people still try to maintain some semblance of life. It also brings up the question of what makes living things actually alive. The kind of religion in the novel is Mercerism, where people can link up together through use of an empathy box and share the pain of Mercer, as he climbs constantly up a mountainside and folk pelt him with rocks. Through the empathy box, people can share their joy, and also their pain, and when Deckard buys himself and his wife a goat, she wants to go onto the empathy box, and share their joy. Mad as feth, but ultimately, it makes it a really interesting read.
The andies are a funny old lot too, cunning, clever, and in their own way, very human. Knowing they’re being hunted, some of them gather together, but it’s the little things that show they’re not.
I recommend it if you want a slow-paced sci-fi story that plucks out a lot of interesting questions about life and people, without them being wholly obvious. Also, it has some great characters, and Brick does a superb job of giving them their own unique fields.
One thing is for sure though, Roy doesn’t seem to have seen things you people wouldn’t believe.