Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
23 October 2014 3 Comments
Author: Philip K Dick
Summary: World War Terminus has left Earth an underpopulated wasteland where people keep electronic animals as pets. Through this bleak landscape reluctant bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalks the sophisticated and lethal Nexus-6 android who have fled their labours in the Martian Colonies. In doing so, Deckard soon learns that a new messiah, the single messenger of hope in a desperate society, may also be a fake.
Stalking the mean streets of the grim futuristic megalopolis that came alive in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Rick Deckard begins to question who is human and just what ‘human’ means.
Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5
Review: I’m not the biggest fan of Blade Runner, but there are things i really like about the film. Though, as is so commonly the case, the book was better. Of course the biggest mistake they made was not keeping the title. ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ is much more of an intriguing hook to any medium than boring old ‘Blade Runner’.
In fact, i don’t even know where they plucked that term from, because ‘blade runner’ is not used in the book. Instead, Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter. He is in a seemingly mediocre marriage, he has an electric sheep and he thinks he’s happy. Then he’s tasked with retiring several Nexus-6 andys, and his day goes a bit crazy.
I really enjoyed this book. The setting, and the mood of the book were slipped into the narrative so well they didn’t seem like descriptions at all. Instead i was immersed into this world. Into the hopelessness of life on Earth, and how people deal with it using a console to dial up whatever mood they fancy (including more depression). Into the manipulative and controlling religion of Mercerism and its rival, Buster Friendly, who is on TV 23 hours a day. Into the perpetual darkness. In short, into the misery. Gosh, i love a hopeless dystopia.
The story alternates every few chapters between Deckard, the bounty hunter, and Isidore, the chickenhead. I quite liked Isidore, in fact i think he was my favourite character. So naive, but generally so optimistic and cheerful, and certainly not as stupid as those around him seem to think. Deckard, i wanted to like, but couldn’t bring myself to care enough. She seemed so dispassionate. The only thing he seemed to genuinely care about was animals, but i can’t help but think that was simply because it was expected of him. The casual sexism he comes out with also didn’t help.
I did admire, though also generally disliked, the androids. If Deckard was dispassionate, the andys were glacial. The only thing they cared about was their freedom, and staying alive–which was why i admired them. We never learn enough about the andy’s to make a real judgement on them. We don’t know what they did to escape their existence on Mars and flee to Earth. But that ambiguous nature of their character only makes them more interesting, to me. Because of that can’t draw any solid conclusions or satisfaction from the end of the book, which leaves me craving more.
The Blade Runner film is, in a lot of ways, not like the book. They took the general plot, but went a much different route with it. As much as i might love the final rooftops scenes of the film which aren’t a part of the book, the book is, on the whole, much better. It was one i just kept wanting to pick back up again every time i put it down.