The book does not answer that question. In fact, this book didn’t answer very many questions I had. The inspiration for Blade Runner a modern reader can see why it was adapted. And why they took so many different choices because this is a weird one.
Just like the film, this is a book about a bleak future. Most of humanity lives off world. Those who remain kind of eke out an existence. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, he hunts down and “retires” androids, who are illegal on Earth but common off world. Why? I never really got that answer.
But these new style of androids are very smart. And their intelligence makes Rick question everything he believes is true.
Honestly, this novel opens with such a weird chapter I almost put it down. Humans are obsessed with taking care of animals, so much so that they will buy fake electric animals to fool their neighbors (there are very few animals left after a nuclear war). I guess the point is to show that humans still have empathy, the one trait that really separates them from androids. This plus a sizable portion of the book dedicated to a religion known as mercerism left me in the dust.
The best part of the book comes around the middle. When Rick can’t differentiate between humans and androids, and begins to question whether or not he is an android. Quite thrilling and I honestly wish the movies spent more time on this. 2049 has Gosling kind of grasp at it, but not substantially enough I felt.
Anyways, this book is a classic, but it’s super weird. Lifted up by great ideas and prose, bogged down by bad ideas and some clunky dialogue.
2 out of 4 stars.