Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick
Just finished reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and will start out by saying that I found this a really great book. I’m including this both as my Vintage Sci fi none challenge being hosted over at Little Red Reviewer and also the Science Fiction Experience being hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.
We follow the story of Rick Deckard in a world trying to survive after World War Terminus. Deckard is a bounty hunter, he works for and earns a regular salary with the Police and earns extra money by stalking rogue androids. Androids are not used on earth, they’re used on the other planets that have been colonised by survivors of WWT – it’s an incentive for people to leave earth. Every now and again however the androids become tired of their servitude and break free.
This is a strange book really when you think about it. There’s not a really massive plot to be frank, its based around one day in the life of Deckard but it is a brilliant portrayal of that one day, it’s quite filled with imagination, and I suppose its a good look at people and their nature.
Now, I hope I haven’t made it seem lame because it’s far from that. Basically the start of Deckards day commences with an introduction to his wife. She’s a bit depressed – I’m not sure if she’s actually really depressed or if she’s been abusing her mood machine – what about that. Something to wake you up in the morning – but in a good mood – and then a machine where you dial a mood for the rest of the day! Ha, I know what I’d be doing right there – break into the big cheese’s house and dial him up a healthy dose of happy days together with a ‘take the day off everyone, relax, and have a pay rise’ mood. Or would that be a bit too much like abuse?
So, in this day and age we have this thing about the people next door and everyone being in a competition right? You get a conservatory and I’ll get a swimming pool, you get a new car, I get a helipad. Well, it’s reassuring to know that even after WWT and the virtual destruction of the planet, with many life forms becoming extinct due to a thick layer of dust, people remain consistent. That’s right there’s still the ‘my house is bigger than your house’ syndrome going on. Animals, birds, insects – are all rare and much adored. The one ideal is to own a pet and to take care of it. It really is the ultimate status symbol. It shows our empathy and it’s what distinguishes us from the androids. But Deckard, on his salary, can’t afford an animal and so has an electric sheep – a fact that he keeps hidden from the neighbour and something that partly contributes to his wife’s feelings of depression. Then, as a result of the chief bounty hunter being taken out of action, by a rogue android, Deckard inherits his list – 6 potential androids and the rewards that go with them. Finally, Deckard may be able to buy a real animal.
What then follows is Deckard’s day tracking the androids and retiring them. No prizes for guessing what ‘retiring’ means. During the course of the day however Deckard starts to experience, for the first time, personal doubts about what he does and if it’s really right. I mean, these androids are so real like. They look amazing and the only way to tell them apart is a brain marrow test or an empathy test which involves a series of questions and a gauge to measure the androids reactions.
I’m not going to go too much further into the plot. It certainly has a few twists and turns and it’s a fairly hectic, stressful and difficult to say the least day for Deckard.
What I thought was great was the way the author plays with your emotions. At a point, he makes you really feel for the androids. You totally sympathise with them and think it’s harsh the treatment that they receive. But then he turns it around and you’re thinking what a bunch of bastards they are. Especially – that Rosen woman and the whole goat episode. I’m not going to say more. Except, what a bitch! She needed retiring for sure.
Anyway, to cut a could be longer than this story short. I enjoyed this very much. But, wait, I forgot something – okay, I wasn’t really happy with Deckard and that whole liaison business (trying to be secretive over here), except I thought this was included because of the subsequent revelation which served to reinforce his own self belief. And, what on earth was going on with the frog? Can’t say any more.
Really good though. Definitely recommend this. The writing style is very easy to get on with, plenty of imagination, I actually liked Deckard (mainly) and it was a good display of an author playing with the reader’s emotions.