Commentary: Movies are good for audiobooks

SFFaudio Commentary

Neato! There’s a new unabridged Philip K. Dick audiobook coming this spring. And these Members Only jacket-wearing men are largely responsible… do you recognize them?

Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick

Yup, that’s Ridley Scott on the left, and Philip K. Dick on the right, a shot taken during post-production on Blade Runner. The audiobook will be a movie-tie-in novel. No it isn’t 25 years late, this one’s tied-in to the re-release of the original 1982 Blade Runner (which is presumably coming early summer 2007).

As a curiosity, back when the film was in production Dick was offered a ‘ton’ of money from the studio’s marketing department to either re-novelize his novel — that is to make it more closely match the film — or in lieu of that, to allow someone else to do it for him. Dick turned down the offer, and all the money that would have gone with it, and instead insisted that his original 1968 novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep be the official movie-tie-in novel for the original release – either it would be his original book, or none at all – that was his stance. Still and all, the audiobook industry was in its infancy back then and no audiobook version was done at the time.

Audibook - Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. DickMore trivia, in 1995 Time Warner Audiobooks (now Hachette Audio) released a 2 cassette abridged reading of Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Calista Flockhart and Matthew Modine. It was a nice enough reading, except for it being so savagely abridged. It is still available via Audible, this makes it one of the very few audiobooks still “in print” after 10 years.

Nearly thirty years after it was released as a paperbook novel it looks like we’re finally going to get the real deal in audio here are the details as we have them so far…

Blade Runner (aka Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep)
By Philip K. Dick; Read by ????
? CDs – ? Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Random House Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: April 10, 2007
ISBN: 0739342754
It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignment–find them and then…”retire” them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!

What’s also kind of neat, this movie-tie in audiobook deal is becoming something of a trend, especially for Dick. A new Philip K. Dick movie (or in this case an old one) produces a new unabridged audiobook of the source material. Consider the following:
FILM: Minority Report (2002) – AUDIOBOOK: Collection release
FILM: Paycheck (2003) – AUDIOBOOK: Unabridged Cassette
FILM: A Scanner Darkly (2006) – AUDIOBOOK: Unabridged CD
FILM: Blade Runner (2007 rerelease) – AUDIOBOOK: Unabridged CD

FILM: Next (2007) – AUDIOBOOK:

As noted on my checklist above another PKD movie, called Next, is in the works. It takes its inspiration from a Dick story called The Golden Man, which has never before been released as an audiobook. No word on whether or not it will be, but I’d be guessing yes. PKD is a cash-cow. Because of all that studio advertising, the audiobook is essentially a sure-thing.

Oh and fellow reviewers…. I call dibs on reviewing the first audiobook copy we receive of Random House Audio’s Blade Runner! nyah nyah!

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