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I have watched different versions the movie and read the book a number of times, and I still can't decide: was Deckard a replicant? I know that he has an emotional reaction to the question of how he feels about killing androids while attached to a Voigt-Kampff machine, but I feel the book is ambiguous about whether or not the Voigt-Kampff tests are even accurate.

My question is: in the original Dick story, were we supposed to believe that Deckard was a replicant?

  • In the film Ridley Scott made, he states in an interview that Deckard is certainly a replicant. Well, that's that debate settled if you have only seen the film. Now, Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Does anyone really know if the author has said publicly if Deckard is an android? – Deckard Jun 10 '17 at 18:26
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    The aforementioned video interview - while it lasts on YouTube – TML Jun 11 '17 at 14:21
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    The book is explicitly clear that Deckard is not a replicant. For a while, the androids try to make him think he is a replicant, and fail. – SteveED May 11 '18 at 23:19
  • @SteveED - although of course Dick wasn't afraid of playing with the idea of his protagonists discovering they are replicants. – Jules May 12 '18 at 14:39
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I believe that the title, while seemingly sort of silly, is a stand in for the real question. Could an android ever experience dreams and emotions the way we do? If they did, what would that mean? Would they really be any different than us? Aren't we just biological machines, a complex chemical reaction, fundamentally no different from a mechanical machine with electric impulses? Dick blurs the line further by making the replicants partially organic.

I think you're supposed to struggle with those questions and believe whatever you want to believe at the end. I doubt Dick even had an opinion on whether Deckard was a replicant.

  • 2
    I struggled with which of these to accept - they're basically the same answer - but in the end I think this one captures the essence a bit more clearly. – TML Aug 11 '11 at 4:23
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    +1. I think you're supposed to finish the book thinking about that question. The answer is not that important in the end. – eugen Aug 11 '11 at 20:42
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Philip K. Dick stated in an interview (per Quora.com) that Dick created Deckard as a human character who is gradually dehumanized through his violence towards replicants. In the book, we learn that replicants are becoming more human. This juxtaposition of the arcs of technology and humanity is one of the compelling subtexts which makes the book a modern classic in my opinion.

  • If that quote can be directly sourced, then this would be the answer for me. I tried clicking the link to view the quote but I got a certificate error and backed out. – SynchronizeYourDogma Feb 14 '17 at 15:18
  • @Withywindle it's cited and attributed to PKD in the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? comic book omnibus, on page 572. – melboiko Aug 9 '17 at 16:53
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    also this academic paper has a direct Dick quote from a making-of: "the theme of the book is that Deckard is dehumanized by tracking down androids". – melboiko Aug 9 '17 at 17:00
  • I remember it being clear that Deckard is not a replicant, which is why I've only upvoted this answer, but I'd have to read it again to be certain. – Todd Wilcox Feb 8 '18 at 14:42
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    This is an excellent answer and spot on. In the novel Deckard is not a replicant. It becomes apparent in the discourse when Deckard is 'arrested' and ends up in the alternate police station (Chap. 10 talking to Garland). I believe there is also a dialogue that infers this between Deckard, Resch, and Luba Luft (Chap. 12). Also, replicants cannot use the 'empathy boxes', and Deckard uses his in the opening of the book (with his wife). – wcullen May 12 '18 at 14:56
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I haven't read the K. W. Jeter sequels, but I assume this question would be addressed in them. If we're only talking about Dick's novel, though, I don't believe there is an answer. It's deliberately ambiguous to illustrate the lack of distinction between Android and Human. I don't think Dick wanted us to walk away wondering "Was Deckard an android or a human?", but rather "Can we ever really distinguish between the two?" He simply uses Deckard as an example. I don't know about you, but I was emotional about him killing the androids. Does that make me a replicant?

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    "If we're only talking about Dick's novel though, I don't believe there is an answer. It's deliberately ambiguous to illustrate the lack of disticintion between android and Human." - my question very much was about Dick's novel alone, so I think this is a great answer. As for you being a replicant, I have a few more questions that will help us determine that... ;) – TML Aug 11 '11 at 4:19
  • I don't remember the question being answered in Bladerunner 2 but then it was so bad I've mostly blocked out the memory of it. I certainly couldn't stomach the idea of reading any further. – Mark Booth May 3 '12 at 23:44
  • "Bladerunner 2" -- that's a thing??! Oy. But they announced Bladerunner 2049 recently so I guess it was gonna happen either way. – jcollum Oct 6 '16 at 23:34

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