Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

It’s an interesting question, definitely one that makes you stop and think for a minute when you see it.  It’s also a book by Philip K. Dick, and a very strange book at that.

Book Stats

244 pages

Science Fiction

Stand alone book

Characters

The book has two viewpoint characters, one who really drives the story, Rick Deckard, and one who is a viewpoint character to give a little more background to the world, J.R. Isidore.  Deckard is a bounty hunter who works for the police department, his job is to hunt down rogue androids and “retire” them.  He was a fairly straightforward character at the beginning of the book who starts to question his reality throughout the course of the novel.  Isidore, is a “special” in the world, one who has had his mental capacity lowered due to exposure to the radiation that floods the world.  He was a simplistic character and it was a little unsettling to see how he was treated throughout the book.

Setting

The book is set in San Francisco in the year 2021.  Earth has been rendered nearly uninhabitable due to World War Terminus and most humans live on colonies away from the planet.  Sciences have also improved as humans have learned to make replicas of almost all life forms, including other humans.  The only problem is, the androids occasionally malfunction, killing their owners.  When this happens, bounty hunters are sent to find and “retire” the androids.

Plot

Deckard starts the book as a minor bounty hunter, but when his superior is attacked and nearly killed by an android that he was hunting, it falls to Rick to find and stop the list of androids that his boss was looking for.  After being given his assignment, Rick has to first verify that the testing tool police use to differentiate between humans and androids is still a viable tool.  After this is done, he proceeds on his mission to find the rogue androids.

Enjoyment

This book was weird, it had some very interesting ideas spread throughout it, and it asked some difficult questions.  What really constitutes as life?  How sacred do we hold other’s lives to be? While the ideas were interesting, I don’t think they were explored very deeply.  The world was very interesting, and the author found ways to tell you about the world without it being a vast info-dump that took up pages and pages.  It’s a novel that raises many questions, but I don’t think it answers any of them very well.

Overall Grade

An interesting read, and while I don’t think the book was exceptional, it was enough to make me want to read more by Philip K. Dick.

5/10

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8 Comments

  1. This book is on my 1001 books to read. Also the movie, Blade Runner that is based on this book is on my top 100 movies. So far, I’ve watched the movie, but I haven’t read the book yet. I find the premise interesting. We’ll see if I like the book.

    Reply
  2. I will rate higher the book. Fantasy books tell you histories, Science fiction makes you think (except space opera). From P. K Dick I i will recommend The Man in the High Castle and Ubik. From the 18 books I have read from the author I will classify Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? in the 8th position.

    Reply
  3. The book was weird…. hmm…. that’s a way of putting it. Sorry for the snark, I’m just very very confused by many of your reviews.

    Reply
    • I’m ok with snark. Simply saying it’s weird is in many ways a gross oversimplification of the book, but it was my thought after I finished the book.

      I try to stay fairly consistent with my reviews, but obviously they’re my own opinions, and I have my own biases about what works and what doesn’t work within a book. When it comes to Science Fiction, I’m more of a casual fan. Overall I’m a bigger fan of Fantasy novels, which means that the Science Fiction books that I really enjoy are those that tend to lean more towards Space Opera as opposed to those leaning towards Hard SF.

      Reply
      • But, Do Androids dream is hardly hard sci-fi — I found it more to be a piece of social science fiction. Postulating a society and the culture that emerges from a world with no animals — the fascinating religion that develops from a deserted landscape mostly abandoned and ruined by man — man is replete with the burdens of guilt. His world-building is very “fantasy” — obviously, the plot is not.

      • So, in short you’re looking for plot driven works? Well, you’ll have a hard time finding them in a lot of New Wave 60s sci-fi, that’s for sure… Well, this isn’t New Wave but on an island of PKD’s own surrealist mixed with pulp mixed with pre-Cyberpunkish leanings…

      • A lot of SF books are driven quite a bit by the ideas that spawned the setting for the book. Occasionally they can get bogged down in discussing these ideas. Part of the reason that I enjoy more Fantasy novels and SF novels that lean more towards Space Opera is because those novels tend to focus more on character and plot instead of the setting. The setting for a book is like the canvas for a painting; it’s vital that it’s there, but it can’t be the star.

        I’m not familiar enough with SF of the 1960’s to discuss what sub-genre label to give this book. I’ve heard it said that Dick is really a sub-genre unto himself. Perhaps once I’ve read more of his fiction as well as more from that time I’ll be better able to discuss exactly where he fits.

      • Oh, that helps put your reviews in perspective. I like ideas, literary sci-fi with metanarrative elements, strange surrealism, non-linear plot, good world building, interesting characters, etc…. 😉

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