Review of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'

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

This classic story from Philip K. Dick serves as a basis for the film Blade Runner but it is not much more than setting and basic characters that are used in the movie.

Rick Deckard is a “bounty hunter” paid by the police to track down rogue “andy's” (androids) on an earth that has all but been abandonded by humans. Many have left this world that is devestated with loss of, pretty much, all animals for a life in the new colonies – where all immigrants are given an android (quite a draw, admitedly, for many). Eight of the latest “Nexus 6” androids have escaped and found their way back to earth – It is Deckard's responsiblity to track them down and “retire them”. Deckard carries out his duties with a lot of discussion about this disfunctional earth along the way.

The novel begins with Deckard being sent to the manufacturer's headquarters where he discovers an “andy” positioned as the niece of the owner (though she did not even know it). It is with Rachel that Deckard forms a somewhat unusual relationship and whom he then has a rather dispassionate affair with. Deckard's wife here plays a minor role addicted as she is to a Penfield mood organ and “Mercerism” – where people electronically connect to a man continually climbing a hill and being pelted by rocks. It is the use that humanity has put computers to that underlies a lot of the novel.

It is this that is the main thrust of the novel - An extreme view of what the planet can become with people turning into themselves and their electronic slaves – losing their humanity while their slaves seemingly gain it. In many ways the electric animals and devices people buy in order to try to return some sort of meaning to their lives are more alive then they are. They spend large amounts of time listening and watching “Buster Friendly” on television and radio spouting forth 24 hours a day, 7 days a week what they all know to be meaningless drivel – Yet they love it anyway. They all strive for life…picking up spiders or anything else living whenever they might be spoted. It is a depressing view of the world and a harsh critique of the media-obsessed world in which we find ourselves.

Quite a bit different than the movie, the action here is somewhat depressed with the “andys” posing little challenge for Deckard – Most of the challenges he faces are those from within himself. I found it difficult to accept that he agonises over what he does yet he continues to do it with little remorse – A man, seemingly, that has lost his will to self-determination – A man, seemingly, with no humanity left. A disturbing view of a future distopia.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2010-05-09

Genre: Science Fiction

Publisher: Orion

Publication Date: 1968