Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

This sci-fi novel was apparently the basis for Blade Runner, but I haven’t seen it and therefore can’t make any comparisons on that front. However, this novel kept my interest, and that’s saying a lot for a sci-fi novel.

It gives an apocalyptic view of earth after World War Terminus. The world is dimmed by a constant drizzle of radioactive fall-out, and most people have emigrated to Mars or other planetary colonies. Left on earth are people called specials who were adversely affected by the radiation and other people who for various other different reasons choose not to emigrate. Animals have a great importance. They are a symbol of prestige and wealth. Owning a real animal as opposed to an electrical animal is a major status symbol. This is where we first meet bounty hunter, Rick Deckard.

Rick Deckard and his wife own an electric sheep. It’s like a dirty little secret that they keep to themselves. Rick dreams of nothing more than owning a real animal rather than an electrical one. His bounty hunting of androids is his only way of getting closer to that goal. The androids that Rick hunts are escapees from the Mars colony where they are used as servants. They are more human than machine, and Rick begins to feel a sort of empathy for his prey.

This story was incredibly deep for such a relatively short novel. Rather than trying to talk about all the details of the novel I can only say, go read it for yourself. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I was wary at first because of my life-long aversion to reading sci-fi, but after the first few pages, I was hooked into the story. I could feel Rick’s ambivalence towards the androids and was more than a little horrified at the wasteland that Philip K. Dick made of earth after the war. Sci-fi or prediction? Since the book was written in 1968 during the birth of the Cold War, it’s easy to think of this as a prediction type novel. However it’s so much more than that. Dick asks several philosophical questions which we humans have always and will continue to seek the answers for.

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Filed under Course Readings, Fiction

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