Was Deckard an Android in the Book?

     BLADE RUNNER is widely regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. In the decades following its release on home video, interest and appreciation for all aspects of the film have steadily increased.

     One aspect in particular regards the protagonist Rick Deckard's identity. Fans (and critics) of the film have been engaged in an ongoing debate about whether Deckard is actually a Human Being or a Replicant.

     Those who accept the possibility that Deckard could be a Replicant refer to the final scene of Blade Runner (Director's Cut and Final Cut) as evidence. In that scene, Deckard finds an origami unicorn on his doorstep, apparently left there by Gaff. He holds it up, examining it, then nods knowingly. Deckard and Rachael then disappear behind the elevator door, escaping to an uncertain future.

     The implication is that Gaff knows the contents of Deckard’s dream (seen earlier in the film and in the video clip below) and that Deckard, like Rachael, had been given false memory implants designed to convince him of his Humanity.

     When asked what the unicorn "means", director Ridley Scott has stated unambiguously, “he’s a Replicant.”

     Some critics of this interpretation, apparently unaware that the Unicorn dream was part of the film prior to the theatrical release, have gone so far as to call this an unnecessary plot-twist tacked-onto the end of Blade Runner (Director's Cut 1992) by Ridley Scott (using Unicorn footage from his next film LEGEND). However, we know that Scott had in fact filmed Deckard's dream and added it to the film prior the the theatrical release.

...Blade Runner’s mythical beast was filmed during the first week of January 1982 at Black Park, England...”

”Indeed, Scott’s unicorn was almost the final shot to be filmed for Blade Runner-only the picture’s eleventh-hour “happy ending” was photographed at a later date.
— FUTURE NOIR: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon

     Shortly before Blade Runner's theatrical release, the studio had imposed several last-minute changes to Ridley's vision. Among them, the deletion of Deckard's dream sequence. Audiences didn't get to see this sequence until the Director's Cut came out on VHS ten years later.

     As a result, those who initially watched the Theatrical Cut (1982) (which omits Deckard's dream sequence) tend to believe that Deckard is Human. On the other hand, those who first watched the Director’s Cut or Final Cut (which both restore the unicorn dream) seem more favorable to the possibility that he’s a Replicant.

The Book:

     Blade Runner was loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (DADOES). Hampton Fancher wrote the screenplay (David Peoples did later rewrites).

     Some commenters in the "Deckard is Human" camp (who claim to have read the book) state that Deckard is definitely a Human (in the book) and that the possibility that he might be an android is never raised.

     Although it seemed clear enough to me that Ridley Scott had deliberately made Deckard a Replicant in the film, I decided to investigate another possibility with this blog.

     With the following entries, I will illuminate passages from the book (and provide commentary) that I hope will prove that the idea that Deckard might not be a Human is certainly present in it. As a diehard fan of both the book and the film, my main intention here is simply to highlight what I feel are important and often ignored aspects of both the film and the book upon which the film is based.

     On a side note, I'm fascinated by the possibility that Ridley Scott, who claims to have never even read the book, came to the same ironic realization as the author about Rick Deckard; he is both a hunter of slaves and is himself a slave.

    Thanks for visiting. Enjoy!

-Chris