Blade Runner 2049 came out on October 6th, so why not read the book that started it all: Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
In the aftermath of World War Terminus, humanity has mostly fled to Mars. People who go to Mars get an android for free. But some of the androids, who are almost indistinguishable from real humans, kill their masters and attempt to hide on Earth. It’s Rick Deckard’s job to find and “retire” them. Deckard is armed with an empathy test because it is the only way you can tell an android apart from a human.
When I watched the original Blade Runner, I had a vague feeling that Deckard retired androids because it was his job; I loved that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? gives Deckard more motivation for retiring the androids – he needs the money to get a real animal to replace his electric sheep. Most animals are extinct after the war, so the humans covet living creatures. Those who can only afford a replicant animal are looked down on (at least if it is known – the replicants are very realistic). The book also has some really fun twists and turns (the really good ones are about half way through the book) that are absent from the movie.
The biggest downfall to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is that the book is a bit dated in some ways, particularly in regards to how it treats women. For the most part, the women in the book either stay at home or are secretaries, which is a very 1960’s ideology (this isn’t surprising as the book was published in 1968). But other than that, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a fun romp through a desolate future.