The novel The Bladerunner (also published as The Blade Runner) is a 1974 science fiction novel by Alan E. Nourse.
he novel's protagonist is Billy Gimp, a man with a club foot who runs "blades" for Doc (Doctor John Long) as part of an illegal black market for medical services. The setting is a society where free, comprehensive medical treatment is available for anyone so long as they qualify for treatment under the Eugenics Laws. Preconditions for medical care include sterilization, and no legitimate medical care is available for anyone who does not qualify or does not wish to undergo the sterilization procedure (including children over the age of five). These conditions have created illegal medical services in which bladerunners supply black market medical supplies for underground practitioners, who generally go out at night to see patients and perform surgery. As an epidemic breaks out among the underclass, Billy must save his city from the plague.
Connection to Blade Runner
n 1979 William S. Burroughs was commissioned to write a treatment for a possible film adaptation. This was published as Blade Runner (a movie). Burroughs acknowledged the Nourse novel as a source and prominently set a mutated virus and right-wing politics in the year 1999.
No film was produced from it, but Hampton Fancher, a screenwriter for the 1982 film (based on Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), had a copy and he suggested "Blade Runner" as preferable to the earlier working titles "Android" and "Dangerous Days". In the film Blade Runner, the term is never explained.
Ridley Scott bought any rights to the title Blade Runner that might have arisen from either the Nourse novel or the Burroughs story treatment.