I re-read this novel, as I used it in my “What Is Humanity?” class in conjunction with the movie based on it, Blade Runner. As a longtime fan of Dick, I had read this quite some time ago, and still remembered quite a bit of it, so in this re-reading, I concentrated on the similarities and differences between it and the movie. In my memory, I thought that the two were quite different, and on the surface, they are. This is because the movie is but a subset of the book–the screenwriters took what they thought was the dramatic heart of the novel, but they didn’t necessarily discard the rest. It’s still there, surprisingly, but it is sublimated in images and character asides.
Yes, it’s a pulp novel. But Dick was a warped mind, and this is one of his best books of the “middle period” of work, between the science fiction where he honed his craft and before he moved into the metaphysical territory of his last novels (in particular, the VALIS trilogy). If you like this book, you owe it to yourself to try UBIK and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, which are my picks for the best of the pulp novels.
[Finished September 1999]