Amazon’s ‘Electric Dreams’ Hints at What Might Have Happened to Real-Life Philip K. Dick Android


Amazon’s “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” contains more than just a host of stories by the prolific science-fiction writer.

The anthology series has a star-studded cast, and although Dick died in 1982, it includes a couple of Easter egg references to the author of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” — the source material for “Blade Runner.”

In the episode “The Father Thing,” protagonist Charlie finds himself thinking that his father has been replaced by some kind of alien look-alike. And he’s not the only one — Charlie’s teacher winds up committing suicide because he thinks the same thing about his wife. In a nod to the author, Charlie’s paranoid but perceptive teacher is named Philip Dick.

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Another nod to the author is found in the opening title sequence of “Electric Dreams.” Toward the end, a hooded figure appears — the computer-generated Dick. The “Electric Dreams” title sequence is full of weird, slightly twisted sci-fi visuals, and the twist on the Dick that appears in the sequence is that, as he pulls the hood off his head, he reveals that his face is attached to a series of mechanical parts. The imaginative author is, indeed, an android himself.

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This might just be a nod to much of Dick’s writings, but it could also reference something that really happened. There actually is a robot Philip K. Dick head out there in the world. In fact, there are two of them — and one disappeared.

The story goes back to 2005, as Slate reports. Roboticist David Hanson, a graduate student at the University of Dallas, was the inventor of a relatively lifelike synthetic skin he called “frubber,” and creating it led him to build several robotic heads. Hanson met graduate students from the University of Memphis at a conference, where he showed off his robotic heads, and they showed off AutoTutor, an educational program that had some basic conversational capabilities for interacting with users. The group decided to combine the two technologies to try to build an android head that could interact with people.

Thus, the group made a painstaking, fairly accurate robotic bust of Dick, complete with the ability to converse with people. It was pretty lifelike, too, with a camera built into its eye that helped it search for faces and then turn to face people. The android could hold basic conversations about Dick’s work and ideas.

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The android, which was described as an “interactive sculpture,” made several appearances and was even on a panel for the Richard Linklater film “A Scanner Darkly,” an adaptation of Dick’s novel, at San Diego International Comic-Con. Warner Bros. intended to send the android on a press tour to promote the movie, the New York Times reports.

It never happened, unfortunately. The Dick android head disappeared when Hanson was flying with it from Dallas to San Francisco. He was asleep when the plane landed in Las Vegas for a transfer he hadn’t expected. Groggily, Hanson grabbed his stuff — but accidentally left Dick in the overhead compartment.

When the mistake was realized, the airline had the head packed in a box and sent to San Francisco International Airport, but somehow, it never arrived.

As the Times reports, the android head took about six months to make and cost $25,000. Losing it was painful for Hanson. It strained his relationship with the author’s two daughters, who provided unpublished material for download into the head to give it with things to say. Fortunately, Hanson’s company, Hanson Robotics, rebuilt the head even better in 2010 — but nobody knows what happened to the original.

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That hasn’t stopped people from speculating, though. The blog Fiction Circus posted an account of how the head was eventually recovered by Interpol, in the possession of a Russian software piracy syndicate called “Little Bear.” The blog, posted on April Fool’s Day in 2010, suggested the Russians had deleted the Dick data from the android head and replaced it with pirated music and video games.

“Electric Dreams” seems to imagine another possible outcome for the android head. It might be that Dick’s mechanical version never wound up in either a landfill or somebody’s living room at all. What if, instead, it acquired a new body, and found a way to go on among us?

One imagines that if Philip K. Dick was writing the story of what happened to his own android head, the tale might go something like that.

“Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” is currently streaming on Amazon.

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TV Review: ‘Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ on Amazon


It’s fitting that “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams,” a handsome new anthology series from Amazon, exists in several realities at once. It contains homages to classic space operas of the past, as well as bulletins from our jittery and surveillance-obsessed near future. And like much of the American populace at this surreal moment in time, […]

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone Reunite in Epic ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ ‘La La Land’ Mashup (Video)


Some genius created a mashup of “Blade Runner 2049” and “La La Land” and had Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling meet in a dystopian version of the nightclub Seb’s.

Gosling walks through the orange mist of “Blade Runner 2049,” but this time, the music from “La La Land” is laid on top of the video. He then comes across Seb’s, the bar that Gosling’s character starts in “La La Land,” and meets Stone inside.

At one point, Gosling even hits the keys of a piano in sync to the song, “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme,” created by composer Justin Hurwitz for the 2016 film directed by Damien Chazelle.

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“Here’s to the fools who dream of electric sheep,” the creator captioned the video, referring to the lyrics of Stone’s “Audition” song from “La La Land” as well as the 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick, on which the first “Blade Runner” was loosely based.

“Blade Runner 2049” starred Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright and Jared Leto and was released on Oct. 6.

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Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the film, set 30 years after Ridley Scott’s original “Blade Runner,” earned $32.7 million its opening weekend.

It has since earned $64.2 million domestically, but has a fresh score of 88 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Watch the trailer above.

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Forget it, Kinbote, it’s Chinatown: A Blade Runner 2049 reference guide


Didn’t get the reference? The A.V. Club is here to help, picking apart the network of literary references and allusions that make up the ambitious alternate-future reality of Blade Runner 2049. The cyberpunk novelist William Gibson once praised the original Blade Runner’s intoxicating mix of quotations and designs as…

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Which Version of ‘Blade Runner’ Should You See Before Watching the Sequel?


“Blade Runner 2049” is (finally) just a week away from release. But before you see it, which version of the original “Blade Runner” should audiences watch before the sequel hits theaters?

That’s not as easy a question as it sounds. There are eight different versions of the 1982 film directed by Ridley Scott, including two different director’s cuts and several different endings. So which one did “Blade Runner 2049” director Denis Villeneuve look to when making his follow up?

“I think that you might not agree, but the idea was to make sure that someone who knows nothing about the universe can still enjoy the movie, having enough clues and background in the movie,” Villeneuve tells TheWrap. “So now, me, I feel that personally I love the very original version.”

When pressed if Villeneuve meant the original 1982 theatrical cut of “Blade Runner,” or one of the two test versions shown before the film’s official release,Villeneuve added, “The very first one and the last one, the 2007 very final cut, you know? I have a tendency to go toward the very final cut.”


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In case you don’t know, the very first version is the so-called “Workprint prototype version,” a 113-minute long test cut with a different ending from the theatrical cut.

The 1982 theatrical cut meanwhile, runs 116 minutes, features extended narration by Harrison Ford, and ends on a relatively happy note.

Meanwhile, the 2007 “Final Cut” is the only version over which Ridley Scott had complete control. It features the full version of the “unicorn dream” which no version has ever included, as well as additional scenes featured in the 1982 international release.

All three versions were released as part of a 5-disc “Ultimate Edition” in 2007.

“Blade Runner 2049,” written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, is set several decades after Ridley Scott’s 1982 original, which Fancher also had a hand in writing. The movies are based on Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.”

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new Blade Runner, LAPD Officer K (Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Dave Bautista and Ana de Armas star in the sequel to Ridley Scott’s original.

“Blade Runner 2049” opens in theaters on Oct. 6.

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Reel One Acquires Philip K. Dick Novella ‘Second Variety’; Names Global Drama Exec


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Anna Paquin Cast as Robert DeNiro’s Daughter in ‘The Irishman’


Oscar and Emmy winner Anna Paquin has been cast as the daughter of Robert De Niro’s hitman character in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” an individual with knowledge of the project tells TheWrap.

Paquin joins an all-star cast in the Netflix Original that includes Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Joe Pesci and Ray Romano.

The crime drama is based on Charles Brandt’s 2004 book, “I Heard You Paint Houses.”


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Brandt’s book follows revelations from Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran about the 1975 disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the killing of Joey Gallo, and J.F.K’s assassination.

A professional mobster and hitman, Sheeran claims to have killed and dismembered Hoffa, with the title of the book referring to Hoffa’s quote to him: “I heard you paint houses ” — mob talk meaning to kill a man, as a house’s walls are then covered with blood.

Production is underway in New York, and the film is expected to get an Oscar-qualifying theatrical release.

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Paquin’s most recent credits include the CBC crime drama “Bellevue” and History’s miniseries remake of “Roots.” Paquin recently wrapped shooting on “The Parting Glass,” which she is co-producing, and next will be seen in two streaming series that premiere in November: Netflix’s “Alias Grace” and Amazon’s Philip K. Dick’s “Electric Dreams.”

Paquin is represented by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Deadline first reported the news.

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