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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real and the artificial, October 31, 2002
This review is from: Blade Runner (Movie-Tie-In Edition) (Mass Market Paperback)
What is the difference between the `artificial' and the `real'? And, more importantly, is it possible to distinguish between the two? If so, how? By pure instinct, or with the help of objective rules? These questions receive multiple interpretations depending on when they intervene in Philip K. Dick's remarkable novel. The opening chapter presents their first occurence: Rick Deckard dreams of owning a real animal instead of the electric sheep he takes care of as if it was a real one (his neighbour was convinced that it was real). Such a distinction is central to Deckard's job: as a blade runner, he kills androids and is thus forced to distinguish between the real and the artificial; if he can't do so, his role loses all its meaning and he becomes a mere criminal. Both his instincts and the test he uses to make that distinction do not seem fool-proof, though, as he repeatedly discovers throughout the book. The humans - those who think they are humans - are not the only ones with questions about identity: three of the Nexus-6 androids Deckard is ordered to kill, Priss Stratton, Roy and Irmgard Baty, hide in a building with a `special' human, John Isidore (himself working for a company that `takes care' of electric animals and thus exposed to the same possible misjudgements), and wonder if he is indeed human and how much they should trust him. The same goes for two seemingly `metaphysical' characters, Buster (whose TV show is broadcasted twenty-four hours a day) and Mercer (empathy boxes enable mystical fusions with him). This is a complex and stimulating work, written by a brilliant thinker.
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