Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Phillip K Dick – Review

Eclectic Reader Challenge – Science Fiction….

I have moved back on track with the challenge, with a genre that could be described as one of my all time favourites… Science Fiction.

What made this more of a challenge than other genres was finding something that I wanted to read and hadn’t – then I saw Philip K Dick on Amazon and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and suddenly realised I had never read that… why? I have no idea… it must have slipped past my radar… I even have John Scalzi’s The Androids Dream which in many ways is a homage to PKD. I also love the movie Blade Runner which is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Firstly I am glad that book and movie are different in many ways – I found the book equally exciting (in the action parts) and engaging. It raised a lot of questions about the world of Dekard more than are raised in the movie – very different premise and here is where movie and book separate. In the book universe the Earth is becoming uninhabitable after nuclear war and humans are encouraged to settle off world to continue the human race. Each settler is provided with an Andy (android) who are basically there salve.  Sometimes Andy’s escape seeking to find freedom back on old Earth. This is where Dekard and his fellow bounty hunters come in. Bounty hunters work in association with the local law enforcement (but not part of them) and there role is to retire (kill) these escaped androids.

Due to the nuclear dust and fallout many animals and insects are simply extinct and owning a real live animal is seen as a social status. So much so that many who cannot afford the real thing buy robotic replicas – Dekard’s sheep is one such animal android. The human population revere the religion of Mercer who daily battles to climb a mountain while being attacked – again and again he strives forward. Emotions can be controlled through a box providing the full range of feelings – set and scheduled for when you need them. An endless TV show of ‘guests’ and talk to keep you occupied and unaware of the world turned to dust and kibble.

Many humans are now sterile and going mad due to the nuclear fall out – those are not able to leave the Earth and are stuck here to slowly die. It seems in space no one is mad, sterile or dumb.

There are many questions raised in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – what makes the androids so different from humans? and what does it mean to a world where the living (animals) are revered so much yet killing androids is seen as a job that deserves a bonus for each success?

Dekard’s world turns upside down tracking the newest android refugees – with almost human attributes the only difference – the only way to tell android from human is to test for feelings. The latest version of android almost fools even the best test and Dekard’s feelings for one android almost cost him the mission and his life.

This is a brilliant piece of Science Fiction and yet I am not sorry I hadn’t read it sooner. I will read it again but for now I just want to live with the ideas that are raised and wonder what the world would truly be like after a nuclear winter and would we too cling to religion that controls our feelings and long for home off the Earth with android salves?

4.5/5

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