Given Philip K. Dick’s noted distaste for the failed attempts in the 70’s to translate his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to the big screen, he was ecstatic to have the story under new creative management with Warner Bros., the Ladd Company, and director Ridley Scott.
In the fall of 1981 — after catching a television preview about the then still-in-production Blade Runner — the revered sci-fi author fired off a jubilant letter to Jeff Walker at the Ladd Company:
I happened to see the Channel 7 TV program “Hooray for Hollywood” tonight with the segment on BLADE RUNNER. (Well, to be honest, I didn’t happen to see it; someone tipped me off that BLADE RUNNER was going to be a part of the show, and to be sure to watch.)
Jeff, after looking — and especially after listening to Harrison Ford discuss the film — I came to the conclusion that this indeed is not science fiction; it is not fantasy; it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism.
The impact of BLADE RUNNER is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people — and, I believe, on science fiction as a field.
Since I have been writing and selling science fiction works for thirty years, this is a matter of some importance to me.
In all candor I must say that our field has gradually and steadily been deteriorating for the last few years. Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER.
This is not escapism, it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day “reality” pallid by comparison.
What I am saying is that all of you collectively may have created a unique new form of graphic, artistic expression, never before seen. And, I think, BLADE RUNNER is going to revolutionize our conceptions of what science fiction is and, more, can be.
Let me sum it up this way. Science fiction has slowly and ineluctably settled into a monotonous death: it has become inbred, derivative, stale.
Suddenly you people have come in, some of the greatest talents currently in existence, and now we have a new life, a new start.
As for my own role in the BLADE RUNNER project, I can only say that I did not know that a work of mine or a set of ideas of mine could be escalated into such stunning dimensions. My life and creative work are justified and completed by BLADE RUNNER.
Thank you… and it is going to be one hell of a commercial success. It will prove invincible.
It was amazing to read this letter. Particularly, Dick’s comments about futurism and super realism. He perfectly described what I experienced seeing the film for the first time. I knew that Blade Runner was timeless, even in 1982 — a touchstone for all sci-fi that’s come since. I left the theater a different person.
Sadly, the author did not live to see the cinematic premiere himself, nor to witness how prophetic his words were with regards to the film’s lasting impact. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, a few short months before the release of Blade Runner in late June.
Feel free to comment! We welcome open and honest discourse regarding any article. But, you better bring your A-game with some real perspective, if you want to spark a dialogue. Rude, mean-spirited comments will be deleted! Thanks for visiting and becoming a part of our community!