San Diego Comic-Con is in full swing right now, playing host to both glamorous celebrities and throngs of sweaty nerds. Throughout its history, the convention has featured a number of illustrious guests; from comic book legends like Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, to acclaimed filmmakers like Steven Spileberg and Francis Ford Coppola. Also seminal science fiction writer Philip K. Dick … 23 years after he died … and he was a robot. 

Let’s back up a bit, way back to the year 2004, when a grad student invented a type of synthetic skin called “Frubber” and teamed up with a roboticist acquaintance to create a working android. And who better to model their creation after than Philip K. Dick, the guy who wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the book that served as the basis for Blade Runner – although neither story was exactly a ringing endorsement for manufacturing synthetic humans willy nilly.

The Dick-bot 3000 (not its actual name) was programmed using “thousands of pages of the author’s journals, letters and published writings.” Dick’s children even gifted the team some of the author’s actual clothes. Unfortunately this devotion to accuracy wasn’t always for the best; when his daughter met the robot, she claimed that it “launched into a long rant about my mother. … It was not pleasant.” The robot went on to make a series of public appearances –

– before being invited to Comic-Con, joining the panel promoting A Scanner Darkly, the 2006 adaptation of his book of the same name. 

Yeah, why send Keanu Reeves when you can get the author’s robo-corpse instead? According to reports at the time, the faux-Dick “spoke to the audience, fielded questions and creeped the sh*t out of everybody in Rm. 6CDEF.” Originally there were plans to send the robot “on a promotional tour to promote the film.” Unfortunately, not unlike a resident of Sleepy Hollow, its head was lost, left behind on an airplane by his creator, and … something, something, tears in the rain. 

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Thumbnail: Wikimedia Commons/Thibault/YouTube

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