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

androids

‘War has left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalks, in search of the renegade replicants who are his prey. When he isn’t ‘retiring’ them, he dreams of owning the ultimate status symbol- a live animal. Then Rick gets a big assignment: to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But things are never that simple, and Rick’s life quickly turns into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit.’

I’m a huge sci-fi fan so, whilst perusing the science fiction section of my local book store, looking for something new, I couldn’t help but be struck by a large recommendation of Dicks works. After reading a few blurbs, I was captivated¬†by the idea behind this book and found myself marvelling at the possibilities. I’ve not seen the film Bladerunner, based on this book, so I was keen to read it and experience for myself the world Dick had created.

The book centres on Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is responsible for hunting down androids who have escaped to Earth after killing their human companions back on Mars. The novel follows Deckard as he embarks on his biggest challenge yet, to retire a large group of androids that another bounty hunter had found before being attacked and injured by one of the machines. Armed with a laser tube and an empathy test, the only way to if someone is an android short of checking their bone marrow, Deckard sets out to capture his prey and makes some interesting discoveries about himself and the way he perceives androids.

It was a thoroughly engrossing read. The depth in that relatively short novel is astounding. Although I thought the premise fascinating I have to say that I’m not entirely sure Dick’s way of storytelling is for me. I’ve always preferred to be lead in to a world, and I found that at times Dick’s method of dropping you in the middle and gradually bringing you up to speed quite disorientating. Just when you think you’ve got a good grip on the androids and emigration he drops Mercerism and Buster Friendly on you and expects you to keep up. It’s definitely the sort of book you have to read a few times just to fully appreciate everything.

There were also points that felt a bit rushed, as though Dick was so interested in the message he was trying to push that he ignored the potential action sequences available. For instance, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is the exploration of humans attitudes to androids, and whether they should feel any empathy towards the robots. One of the most interesting times to explore that aspect of the story would be when Deckard is destroying the androids, and yet Dick practically skips over some of those key instances, giving them little to no description. Also, the tone and speed of the novel often changed suddenly and, although arguably mirroring the action, was quite startling for me as a reader.

All in all, an intriguing idea that I would love to see more people toy around with, and perhaps spend longer on.

Interesting premise and characters but I’m not quite used to his style yet so only 4/5.

4 stars

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