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Blade Runner

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment--find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!

244 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1968

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About the author

Philip K. Dick

1,547 books19.3k followers
Philip K. Dick was born in Chicago in 1928 and lived most of his life in California. In 1952, he began writing professionally and proceeded to write numerous novels and short-story collections. He won the Hugo Award for the best novel in 1962 for The Man in the High Castle and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year in 1974 for Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said. Philip K. Dick died on March 2, 1982, in Santa Ana, California, of heart failure following a stroke.

In addition to 44 published novels, Dick wrote approximately 121 short stories, most of which appeared in science fiction magazines during his lifetime. Although Dick spent most of his career as a writer in near-poverty, ten of his stories have been adapted into popular films since his death, including Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau. In 2005, Time magazine named Ubik one of the one hundred greatest English-language novels published since 1923. In 2007, Dick became the first science fiction writer to be included in The Library of America series.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,556 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,868 reviews16.5k followers
October 3, 2020
I could say that I love Dick, but that would be weird. I do very much enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing and though this is not one of his best, the "Pizza and Sex Rule" applies to him; ie. just as even bad pizza and / or sex is still pretty good, bad PKD is as well. And this is not bad at all.

The first mistake that a new reader would make is to watch Blade Runner and expect a novelization of that film; it was LOOSELY based upon the book. I'm a big fan of the Ridley Scott film starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, but the movie diverged from Phillip K. Dick's literature early on. The book is far more bleak than the film, if you can believe that, and much more intricate and complicated. Blade Runner benefits from a simplified storyline.

The author was far ahead of his time both in the complexity of his story and the perspective from which he writes. There are elements of Brave New World, I, Robot, and Dune; but the author has a unique voice and the story is an original. It is not an excellent work, as there are gaps and inconsistencies and many loose ends that are never tied in, but the concept and provocation are superb.

One element of the book that was completely left out of the film was a sub-plot involving a Christ-like messiah and a faith system based upon what could have been a hoax. First published in 1968, this was one of his more theological based novels, and a trend that would continue steadily becoming more frequent and invasive until the end of his writing.

A MUST read for PKD fans as well as SF/F fans period.

*** 2020 Reread:

One thing I love about PKD writing is the accessibility. He discusses complex, sophisticated issues, but he never is. There’s a blue-collar element to him that is ubiquitous across his canon. He grew up working low level retail and repair shop jobs and it never left him.

Another element of this book that I picked up on more this time was the empathy religion set up around Wilbur Mercer. When I read this before, I thought of it as kind of a weird sub-plot but this is a fundamental part of Dick’s vision. Humans who feel empathy with the Christ-like Mercer are separate from the androids who do not feel empathy? Or do they? PKD is too much of an artist to make this simple, his world building is a rich tapestry of detail and nuance.

Along with Mercerism is the attraction with caring for animals, real animals if possible (in the post-war diseased world) but electric animals if need be. This relationship with animal husbandry is tied together with the distinctions between humans and androids, naturally biological and created.

A great SF novel.

Profile Image for Colleen Venable.
Author 45 books362 followers
July 19, 2007
It takes five full pages for a character to buy a goat and ONE FRIGGIN' SENTENCE for a character to "fall in love". This book was so amazing in the beginning...and then suddenly everything plummeted downhill. It was almost as if Dick got 150 pages in and then said "awwww screw it...uh, sentence, sentence, sentence, THE END!" Why did there need to be any sort of "love" storyline anyway?

Along with being the only geek who made it through puberty without reading Phillip K. Dick books, I also am one of the few who has never seen Blade Runner. I'm a little scared to now.

I was so convinced I was going to give this one 5 stars while I read the first 100 pages. It felt truly original, hauntingly believable, and seemed gearing up for some big revelation. Man, did this one disappoint.

Dear Mr. Dick,
Thank you for the lovely short story...but what was with all of those extra pages glued in after?
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,359 reviews11.8k followers
May 25, 2022

“It's the basic condition of life to be required to violate our own identity.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Having hooked up all the iridescent wires from my XC-23 Weird and Crazy in Fiction Test Machine to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, I’m here to report results showed the needle registering a maximum ten out of ten on each and every page. Quite a feat. Quite a novel. But then again, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised - after all, this is Philip K. Dick. One of the most bizarre reading experiences anyone could possibly encounter. Rather than attempting to comment on plot or the sequence of events (too wild to synopsize), here are ten ingredients the one and only PKD mixes together in his outlandish science fictional stew:

Rick Deckard - the novel’s main character, a bounty hunter on the city police force assigned to track down and destroy human-like androids that have emigrated illegally from Mars. The year 2021, the place San Francisco in the aftermath of nuclear war, deadly dust everywhere, many species wiped out. The government says androids must remain on Mars and continue doing all the dirty work for humans who have migrated to the red planet. Darn! The problem is androids, especially the most recently improved version with their new Nexus-6 brain unit, have been given way too much intelligence.

Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test – Fortunately, bounty hunters can administer a test to determine who is human and who is android. The central dilemma with androids – without the very human capacity to feel compassion for others, an android is nothing more than a solitary predator, a cold killer capable of murdering humans left and right to eventually take over. A true stroke of PKD irony since there are a number of instances where androids appear to have deep feelings and empathy for each other and even humans. Meanwhile, the human bounty hunters are expected to eliminate or “retire” androids with no more feelings than if they were disassembling a vacuum cleaner. This philosophical conundrum emerges repeatedly throughout the novel.

John Isidore –Since he scored low on his IQ test, labeled a special and chickenhead, Isidore can’t emigrate to Mars. He lives alone in an empty, decaying apartment building on the outskirts of the city and drives a truck for an animal rescue company. When at home Isadore watches hawkers and comedians on his TV when he's not grabbing the handles of his black empathy box that enables him to fuse his feeling with all of life, a major tenet of the new religion of Mercerism, founded by that superior being, Wilbur Mercer. Such belief and behavior leads to yet another area of PKD-style philosophic inquiry. However, by the end of the novel it becomes clear anyone, human or android, should think twice before putting their life in the hands of a chickenhead.

Buster Friendly – Leading TV personality and all-around funny guy who makes announcements and pronouncements on what’s real and what’s fake on topics near and dear to the hearts of the remaining survivors. Topics can range from the latest reports on nuclear fallout to his biggest rival, Wibur Mercer.

Mood Organ – In this futuristic world, there’s no need for drugs and for good reason: men and women like Rick Deckard and his wife have a “mood organ” where they can simply set the dial for a stimulant or a tranquilizer, a hit of venom to better win an argument or even set the dial for a state of ecstatic sexual bliss. Obviously there’s some upside here. 2021 isn’t that far away. Lets hope inventors are hard at work as you read these words.

Rachael Rosen – Beautiful daughter of Eldon Rosen, founder of a major manufacturer of androids. But wait: Is Rachael a real human or could she turn out to be one of those very intelligent Nexus-6 androids? Time for Rick Deckard to take out his equipment and give Rachael the Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test. Either way, Rachael infuses serious energy into the story. One of my favorite lines is when Rick Deckard asks himself after a phone call with Rachael. “What kind of world is it when an android phones up a bounty hunter and offers him assistance?”

Happy Dog Pet Shop – One of the largest pet shops in the Bay Area, they currently have an ostrich in their display window, the bird recently arrived from the Cleveland zoo. What a prize! Rick Deckard is hooked – he stops and stares at the ostrich as he walks to work and later places a call to check on their asking price. Whoa! The price is outrageous. Rick knows he would have to eliminate an entire string of androids just for the down payment. But, my goodness – to own one’s very own ostrich.

Kipple - As John Isidore states as a matter-of-fact: “Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.” Sounds as ridiculous as the medieval idea of spontaneous generation. Perhaps we should take into account that John Isidore is, after all, a chickenhead.

Luba Luft – On the list of androids, Luba is currently a leading opera singer for the lead company in San Francisco. Come on, Rick Deckard, do you really want to eliminate someone (or something) that is making such a formidable contributing to the arts? PKD has Rick and a fellow bounty hunter discuss this very question as they follow orders from their higher-ups.

Real and Electric Animals – Creatures of all stripes and varieties add much color to the story. In addition to the above mentioned ostrich, there’s a horse, a sheep, cat, goat, spider, donkey, crow and toad. Some are real, others electric. A PKD book worth reading to discover the truth down to the last four-legged wiggly.

“Damn her he said to himself. What good does it do my risking my life? She doesn't care whether we own an ostrich or not. Nothing penetrates.”
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick, American Science Fiction author (1928 - 1982)
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
797 reviews3,631 followers
May 17, 2022
What differentiates humans from androids, if there is any difference at a certain point of technological progress, is the main question of this botchy novel.

Very personal opinions fans of Dicks´work might find offending and nasty.

Prodigy or overrated
There are two options, to see Dick as an ingenious literary prodigy, writing novels so densely packed that they can´t be understood without rereading and diving deeper into the complexity of the stories. Others think that he is completely overrated and I am standing somewhere between the lines, but instead of talking about positive things such as the immense influence Dicks´interest in philosophy in young years and his drug consumption had on writing quite a kind of Lovecraftian Sci-Fi, similar egocentric and weird, but packed with deep thoughts and very difficult to understand innuendos, a kind of writer philosopher in the footsteps of all those bearded thinkers of the past, I want to focus on the aspects I didn´t like so much and didn´t have to think of when reading other Sci-Fi classics.

I read „A scanner darkly“ by Dick years ago and had similar thoughts, so here they are again in full redundancy. I promise (lie!), I don´t recycle genre specific realizations as if it was nothing. No, but seriously, I´m somewhat trying to get a more objective view on a writing style I just can´t get warm with. So let´s pimp the old thoughts.

An idea what people with different tastes might like about him
One can see everything in this writing, it´s so vague that one can do any kind of subjective interpretation, it´s an intellectual riddle to find the hidden meaning and everyone can see something else in it. That´s a bit like with special music tastes, subjectively heaven or hell, although there are the universally acclaimed megahits close to everybody loves and other genres that make the ears of most listeners bleed. Asimov, Clarke, Lem, Capek, etc. are multi selling platin global evergreen hits, Heinlein (some works, not all) and Dick are more like strange Scandinavian death metal or industrial instrumental progressive construction noise. Or take food, everybody loves a pizza or (veggie) burger, but who eats Haggis or English food in general? See?

Maybe try out more, longer, and better plots?
The writing style is typical, one red line, no real subplots, the ending is quite kind of unsatisfying (looking at you, Man in the high castle.), it often gets confusing and it´s difficult to differentiate if it´s ingenuity or the authors' illumination or paranoia. All of that are reasons why Dick is more controversial and not so universally acclaimed as a grandmaster of Sci-Fi and I am more on the side of his critics. If one looks at the worldbuilding and complexity of all the other behemoths, Dick seems average, with the only hobbyhorse of dealing with consciousness, reality, and the mentioned topics and some novels feel as if he just wrote them for the money (he needed) without real intrinsic motivation. Not for the art, just for the cash, not even having enough financial space to at least make them good.

Close to fantastic realism, high brow, and Nobel Prize trash.
I would call him, and I hardly ever do that because it is not nice, overrated. In this regard, he is more like the Nobel prize, pseudo-intellectual, overhyped, higher literature stuff and less like pure, true, entertaining fiction. To write not understandable and confusing to seem deep and arcane is much easier than to write entertaining, suspenseful, and yes, true, stereotypical following the rules of the genre. But that´s one of the key elements of why we love certain genres and tinkering around with conventions while writing 60 pages a day under the influence of LSD and amphetamines brings him into the corner of Kerouac and consorts and „first thought best thought“ madness. Who needs stinking editing, rewriting, or even planning and plotting before writing? Completely overrated.

No big picture or satisfying conclusion that glues everything together
Dicks´ novels don´t feel coherent, there are no satisfying resolutions, just more and more mysteries and open questions, and nothing gets answered, and much feels unfinished. It's no bad writing, I just wouldn´t highly recommend it, because it are no fun reads, and if Dick would have been a bit soberer and invested more time in developing satisfying, believable plots, that could have been great. What annoys me the most are the great moments and ideas that are followed by unanswered questions, unreliable protagonist behavior, or completely losing the overview of what´s happening. Not to forget the running get of making the reader angry by ridiculous ends and no conclusions.

Look at the real behemoths
A direct comparison with other grandmasters of Sci-Fi and what they have revolutionized shows the flaws even clearer. Heinlein (his good works) with amazing military science fiction, Asimovs´robots and some of the first space operas, Clarkes unbelievable language and subtility, Pohl with his worldbuilding, Gibson with Cyberpunk, not to name all the newer authors, and especially Stanislaw Lem and Karel Capek who are close to unknown. Especially they would have deserved the same and more attention and appreciation as Dick and should be named in a row with Asimov, Clarke, and, somewhat, Heinlein because they wrote revolutionary brilliant at Clarkes´ level and were really funny in other novels and short stories, it´s highly recommended literature, totally unique. All those authors were able to write entertaining, unique, tropeforming, philosophical, and with metaplots that come all together to a satisfying and logical ending, something Dick was incapable of, because he didn´t construct a universe, just fragments not fitting together and of extremely varying quality.

A final, failing attempt to be more objective
Of course, it may be a question of personal taste and preference, but I have read so much great Sci-Fi, hundreds of novels, that it feels inappropriate to name him in a line with those works and I felt really unsatisfied after having read any of his novels that are all closer to psychological mindf***ing, pardon my language, mind penetrating mystery whodunnit whatever crossover hybrid progressive alternative indie crap than to real Sci-Fi and with less real genre-typical elements in them. All the giants were true intellectuals and able to endlessly talk about any tiny detail of their work and its meaning and sense and it would interest me if Dick would have been able to give answers to complex questions about his novels. If he remembered writing them at all.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Scott Sheaffer.
208 reviews68 followers
December 29, 2010
I Love Dick. There I've said it. No, not a “Mood Organ” or blood filled skin sack made to facilitate reproduction but Philip K. Dick.

Is it really possible for androids to acquire human traits like empathy and the desire to understand the meaning of life and avoid death at all costs? What would the role of socialism play in an android world? Would self aware androids seek out to destroy anything that threatened their existence or tried to control their thoughts (ie programming)?

A Google search revealed that the search for intelligent android life is alive and well. I learned that there are no less than 15 groups attempting to create intelligent android life.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a joyous adventure into mans struggles with ideas such as real vs. unreal, life vs. un-life, mind control, intelligence vs. mental deficiency, decay vs. regeneration, the value of religion (real or imagined) and the value of individualism vs. the collective. Sounds like something that should have a “King James Version” doesn't it? I would consider attending mass at a church where the virtues and values explored in this book were studied and ‘preached’.

Would an intelligent android society have a need for religion even if they understood that the religion they followed was created (divinely inspired or not) to give them hope and a forum where they would feel like a part of something bigger and more consequential than oneself? What value does religion have in the lives of mankind? This is one of the fundamental issues Dick toys with in the world he creates in this novel.

And now I digress. . .

While in college I played around a little with writing an Artificial Intelligence (AI) program I called “The Oracle”. It was a simple program where input from the user was stored in data files along with key words that would allow the program to associate the users input with the key words. The result was that “The Oracle” could use input from the user to “learn” custom responses to questions the user might ask. My rudimentary computer skills and the memory storage limits of my Commodore 64 resulted in my abandoning the project after numerous attempts to avoid the “out of memory” errors. Oh, the limitations of computers! Would a memory error like this in humans be considered something like a seizure?

If we succeed in creating self aware computers I wonder what they would think of their creators. Would they treat their parents better than we treat our own human parents or would they tend to migrate to their own, creating a separate mechanical society?

Dicks Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep explores this question and presents one look at how this might work out.

If you are a fan of relevant science fiction I would recommend this book. I ended up reading this one twice in a row to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Others more familiar with Dick might suggest other Dick works that could/should be read before taking on this philosophical/social work.

By the way a “Mood Organ” is an invention by Dick. It’s a device used by humans to manipulate their moods. The user dials in a code which correlates with a specific emotion, mood, or desire. Sounds like something that should take two “D” sized batteries and be stored at the bottom of the underwear drawer huh?

Enjoy the book and try to ignore the incessant buzzing in the background, it's just the androids busy at work.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews868 followers
October 3, 2019
I'd watched Blade Runner several times, but hadn't read Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. The book and movie don't entirely match up, but they are both thought-provoking and entertaining in their own right. Fans of the film will notice serious discrepancies in the book as I did (and vice versa). Still, they somehow compliment each other. That's not a common response when I read a book after watching a film, or more commonly watching a film after reading the book. Before reading the book, I hadn't understood the title (a significant plot-line in the book which isn't explicitly explored in the movie). So I guess that's my message for fans of the movie who are wary of reading the book which they've been told is different than the movie; they are both solid and neither experience detracts from the other. In fact, I'm now a fan of both the novel and the movie!
Profile Image for Matthias.
107 reviews339 followers
June 2, 2017
An android walks into a bar.

"Hey!", the bartender says, "Only people with feelings are allowed in here! You need empathy in order to be in a joke like this, or at least have something people can relate to."

"Oh, don't worry", the android replies, "I definitely feel empathy."

Relieved, the bartender invites him over to the bar. "What are you having?"

"A beer would be great!", the android replies. The bartender, evidently approving of this fine choice, gladly obliges and goes on to cater for the other guests.

The android sits there for a while, drinking, looking, thinking. He decides he wants more of that beer.

"Hey bartender!", he shouts, "Come give me a refill, my glass is empathy!"


The title of this edition, "Blade Runner", is very fitting as it shows to which great extent my reading experience tied in to the movie. This might seem strange because plot-wise there are very few similarities between this book and the film. And despite them being so different, I can only say both are supremely good. It's impossible for me to say which I prefer. One element where the book wins it over the movie is the title, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", which was used as a subtitle in this edition of the book. The contents remain the same as in the original book, but the cover work is evidently made with the movie in mind.

The way the novel influenced the movie probably goes without saying. The central theme has been picked up: man managed to create an "inferior" version of man in order to make use of that product for their own benefit: as slaves, as company. In essence, what would happen if Dr. Frankenstein's patent would expire and his creation would be mass-produced, made more aesthetically pleasing and completely void of emotions. Inferior is relative though, because the androids are generally more intelligent and agile. And most look very attractive, which helps.

That's where the philosophical aspect comes in: What is it that makes us so different from these creations that makes us essentially human?
According to society in this book, it's empathy. The ability to feel for others, to manage to go through what they're going through by some mystic group connection. The androids can't do that and are thus considered subhuman and when on the loose, dangerous.

This story progresses by questioning that central statement. For starters, not all humans have empathy, or at least they don't act upon it. And when they have it, it's selective at best. The difference between "human" and "humane" is more signifcant than what their similar spelling would suggest. How else to explain the treatment of so-called "chickenheads", by which society allows the elderly, the weak and the stupid to be stranded on a dying planet? Additionally, hints are given that the androids could possess more emotions than they were intended to have. So where on the humanity spectrum does that leave the man who has to kill them for a living? That's what this story is about.

This book offers some insights on how Dick himself intended his book, which was essentially an anti-establishment novel during the war in Vietnam. His line of thinking was that when we go fighting, we become what we're fighting against. In his vision the androids truly were evil. Any sympathizing I have been doing with them, and with me many others, was not intended by the author and maybe partially due to the movie's influence. Admittedly, it becomes much harder to like them near the end of the book, especially if you like animals. Dick's focus was not on how human the in our eyes inhuman are, but on how bounty hunters themselves became devoid of emotions the longer they were doing their jobs. How those who claim to be human can turn into the monsters they fight quite easily. I personally like to regard it from both its perspectives.

The atmosphere created in the book is supreme. When I had read it last year, I rated it three stars. Yesterday, 4. Now, after having given it careful thought, 5. Why the hesitation? There are some segments that don't seem to make sense, like the operation Garland had set up or Mercer manifesting himself at certain occasions. But then, that's part of it. The "nightmare" feel of the book is part of what makes it so great and these fluid elements in the story where there are unexplained shifts between dreamworlds and reality are part of what constitutes the nightmare experience.

My reading-experience of this book was amplified by the influences of the other media it appeared in, both the movie and the videogame (which was based on the movie). The artwork in those was simply sublime and provided the perfect framework in which the story could be set, also in my mind. Dark and always foggy streets, trash everywhere, cheap neon the only source of light and a musical score to round it all off. It's a dreary place, but somehow, I can't explain it, very appealing.

According to the additional notes in my edition, Dick, who sadly could not see the completed movie due to his untimely demise, was positively surprised when he saw the first 20 minutes of the movie, saying that it felt Ridley Scott had held a mirror to his mind. I do wonder if that's entirely truthful, since I doubt Harrison Ford saw a balding, slightly overweight man when he looked in his own mirror. I think it's safe to say that Ridley Scott and his entourage really added something to the experience of this story, as well as offering a completely new narrative.

In conclusion: This is one of those instances where the franchise in its entirety can be strongly recommended. Like PKD himself predicted in a letter to the movie-makers: Blade Runner has proven to be invincible. I hope the Blade Runner 2049 movie will demonstrate that further.

Read it, watch it, play it and ... feel human :-)
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
April 21, 2018
Is Deckard an android?

"An android," he said, "doesn't care what happens to another android. That's one of the indications we look for."

"Then," Miss Luft said, "you must be an android."

That stopped him; he stared at her.


This is all I could think about when reading. I really looked for evidence to back the idea up, though the novel only provided me with speculation and partial facts. For every little suggestion in the text that he is a robot, there is an effective counter argument. Somehow, though, I am not entirely convinced.

“Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don’t know.”

I think Phillip K. Dick left it purposefully open to an extent, and that’s the entire point of the novel.


What is life? How do we define it and what separates us from entities that simulate almost every human experience and emotion? Very little. Phillip K. Dick creates a city full of doubt and conspiracy. Androids could be anywhere and they could be anyone. As technology advances it becomes harder and harder for them to be detected by police. They even think they are human with a will and freedom to choose their own lives. Who has the right to tell them no?

Deckard pushes such thoughts to the back of his mind, though they constantly plague him and creep up in the shadows of his dreams. He is on the cusp of a moral crisis, an identity crisis, a crisis that may change the way he sees the world. Though like most people he is driven by money. Killing (murdering?) androids pays really well and Deckard wants a new animal. His electric sheep died and he dreams of replacing it with an exceedingly rare real life version, something far more important than preoccupations with empathy.

The value of animals and the natural world to the human psyche is firmly established throughout the book. There is an almost depressive quality to the novel, a smoky haze that clouds the cities. The scientific boom of the future world has severed the link between man and his true self. He is detached and has to rely on artificiality to get by, an artificiality of emotions and animals themselves. Animals have become rare and extremely costly. They are highly sought after and as such there is a huge market for fake animals, androids (electric sheep.) Thus Deckard kills more and more robots in order to attain his goal of getting an animal, of finding himself.

This is a great novel, one that questions existence itself. It certainly made me think. Admittedly though, I think the movie Blade Runner was so much better. Aside from the exquisite cinematography and soundtrack, it was far more effective at delivering the humanity of the androids and the final confrontation was masterful. It capitalised on the themes here and made them stronger.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
October 13, 2021
(Book 390 from 1001 books) - Blade Runner (Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep? #1), Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968.

The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, where Earth's life has been greatly damaged by nuclear global war.

Most animal species are endangered or extinct from extreme radiation poisoning, so that owning an animal is now a sign of status and empathy, an attitude encouraged towards animals.

The book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner, and many elements and themes from it were used in its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز شانزدهم ماه اکتبر سال 1988میلادی

عنوان: آیا آدم مصنوعی‌ها خواب گوسفند برقی می‌بینند؟ - روشنگران

عنوان: آیا آدم مصنوعی‌ها خواب گوسفند برقی می‌بینند؟ نویسنده: فلیپ کی دیک؛ مترجم: محمدرضا باطنی؛ تهران، روشنگران، 1385؛ در 300ص؛ شابک9648564566؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

دغدغه‌ ی هویت، برای انسان علم‌ زده و در جامعه‌ ی مدرن است؛ هر چند فضای داستان، دنیای فرامدرن آینده است، اما دغدغه‌ ی بحران هویت انسان امروز، در جهان فاقد عشق، هم‌دلی، و آغشته به خشونت، و تهی از بیشتر جلوه‌ هایی که انسانهای سده های پیشین، به آن می‌بالیدند، دستمایه‌ ی اصلی نویسنده است؛ آنجا که انسان به انسان بودن خود نیز شک می‌کند

این داستان به دغدغه‌های مردی به نام «ریک دکارد (دکارد، جایزه بگیری است که برای پلیس شهر سانفرانسیسکو کار می‌کند؛ کار او یافتن و بازنشسته کردن آدم مصنوعی‌هایی است که به صورت غیرقانونی وارد زمین شده ‌اند)» می‌پردازد؛ زمان رویدادن داستان در نسخه اصلی سال 1992میلادی بوده که در نسخه تازه آن به سال 2021میلادی بدل شده ‌است؛ داستان بر روی کره ی زمین، که پس از آخرین جنگ جهانی گرفتار آلودگی‌های رادیواکتیو فراوان شده رخ می‌دهد؛ بیشتر انسان‌هایی که زنده مانده‌ اند به سوی سیارات دیگر گریخته‌ و بازماندگان، با مشکلاتی فراوان درگیر هستند؛ بحران هویت و تردید در شناخت کار صحیح از جمله مشکلاتی است که «ریک دکارت» را در این داستان درگیر کرده‌ است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 05/08/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 20/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Justin (Look Alive Books).
278 reviews2,260 followers
November 6, 2017
Raise your hand if you saw my name next to a five star rating and thought you were dreaming. Dreaming of electric sheep. Boom.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh baby. How have I not read this until now? Why haven’t I seen Blade Runner before? Why?! Why?! Whyyyyyyyyyyy.........

Everything about this book is just, just, so... just so... everything about this book, man, this book, it’s just so... it is. This book.

Awesome. This book is awesome.

Words I’m trying to eliminate from my vocabulary: man, awesome, cool, legit, nice, word. It’s been a real struggle so far.


I loved this book, obviously. It made me think. It made me turn the pages. It made me move my eyes ferociously back and forth. The chapters were irrelevant. I blew right through them like running a red light. I felt the same exhilarating feeling I would have felt if I was actually running a red light. That’s how this book makes you feel, like you’re speeding in a car and running all the red lights. And there are no bounty hunters or blade runners to worry about. No... early retirement.

The Nexus 6 is the name of a highly advanced robot, a cellular telephone, and probably an elite Quidditch broomstick. I wouldn’t be surprised. Keep checking Pottermore.

Are you a fan of Westworld? Fahrenheit 451? Brave New World? Blade Runner? Battlestar Galactica? Star Wars? Star Trek? Die Hard? Ex Machina? If you said YES to all of these... can we be friends? We already are? Can we continue our friendship? If you answered YES to three of those, this is probably the book for you, most likely, surely. Enjoy!

What a fantastic read this was! What an absolute joy to experience this story! What a privilege we all have to have access to great book such as these, and also other books as well. What a great time to be alive! What a wonderful world we all live in! How lucky are we to sit here in our living rooms and bathtubs reading away and enjoying literature at its finest?

Good Lord, life is grand.

Profile Image for Baba.
3,562 reviews861 followers
June 1, 2022
SF Masterworks #4: A desolate sparsely populated Earth of sparsely populated cities, constant and random nuclear fallout, with the continual societal pressure for these city dwellers to emigrate to the colonies - this is the setting for PKD's most famous work... one that was adapted to become the movie Blade Runner.

You know the story, a bounty hunter has to 'retire' some of the newest form of androids that have escaped the colonies and come to Earth, which is illegal for them to do. As well as a well paced and interesting story, what PKD does well, is really provide the details and tone to bring this post WW III 'lost Earth' to life. A book of open spaces, and inner monologues, of desperate need to belong and yet unsure of what to belong to. A story of un-tethered humankind. On top of that, it does exceptionally well in making utterly clear there is no way an Android has any (human) rights, it's a machine! Classic sci-fi, which like a fair bit of 20th century sci-fi, does not age well. 6.5 out of 12.

2010 read; 201 read
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,425 reviews3,392 followers
August 20, 2018
Philip K. Dick has packed his fabulous Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? with all the phobias and anxieties of the sixties: the third world war, the post-apocalyptic bleakness, nature in the state of the ultimate decline, collapse of ecology, degradation of mankind and the desperate fighting to keep one’s identity.
The novel is a cat-and-mouse game but the protagonist stands before the problem of moral choice: whish one is a cat and which one is a mouse?
The old man said, “You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”

Wherever one is and whatever one does the most important thing is not to lose one’s human qualities.
Profile Image for Justin Tate.
Author 7 books912 followers
May 31, 2019
My first Philip K. Dick read, and now I understand what all the fuss is about. The guy is a visionary. Chapter 1 immerses you in a world unlike anything you've ever seen, and yet it's completely understandable. This is where other sci-fi writers fail over and over again. They get caught up in their own imagination and struggle to translate fever dreams into digestible content for readers. Dick's scene structure is character-based, intimate, and uses the mind-boggling elements as intrigue rather than pure information dump. Every beginning sci-fi writer should reader Chapter 1 of this book at least 17 times before daring to type a word. This is how it's done, folks.

I've seen Blade Runner before. It took 3 or 4 days to finish because the dreamy pace and lullaby score kept putting me to sleep. I don't remember it very well, but what I can recall had little resemblance to this novel. For one, the pace is not slow. There are no lulls in the action, no rest from the mystery. Every paragraph launches us forward, demands our attention. Decker is significantly more interesting, with more fleshed out internal problems. He must face himself as much as he faces the androids--a fitting conflict.

If I had any complaint about the book, it's that he seems obsessed with justifying the title. It's a good title, don't get me wrong, but the overwrought energy devoted to animals goes on too long; gets distracting. Decker's insatiable hunt for owls and goats and other creatures is constant, yet that only seems like a medium-sized theme to pursue. I would have preferred, for example, more time devoted to clearly explaining Mercer. Mercer is the one piece that I couldn't quite understand and had trouble believing. In any case, these are minor issues in what is otherwise a classic example of the finest science fiction. Also a good entry book for those who ordinarily avoid the genre.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,196 reviews9,480 followers
October 21, 2017
- You’re surely not suggesting that I could be an android?

- Well, let’s look at the evidence. You have no empathy whatsoever….

- What? Where is your evidence for this outrageous statement?

- Protest all you like, but you can ask anybody. You’re notorious. You’re an empathy free zone.

- Wait, I think it’s clear what’s happening here. You are in fact the android, and you have had a false memory implanted into you to make you think you are human.

- Not so, you have had a false memory planted in you to make you think that I have had a false memory planted in me.

- Oh, this could go on all day. Let’s bring this to a swift conclusion. I will test you with the well known Glurk-Flachsborker android test.

- I have no knowledge of that test. As you well know, the standard android test is the Blunt-Lampedrechananian test.

- You have just made that up. To expose your ridiculous lie, I will test your imaginary test with my test test. This is the well known Klunt-Felchclamp test. Please allow me to test your test immediately.

- This Klunt-Felchclamp nonsense is a mere delaying ruse. As anyone knows the only test to test a test is-

- I have an ostrich.

- I have a squirrel. So ner ner.

- My ostrich knows you are an android. It told me.

- You can stick your ostrich up your arse.

- Technically I could not but technically you could stick your squirrel up your arse. Which you should now do.

- Your ostrich is an android.

- Yeah well you’re an android, your squirrel is an android and your mum and your dad were both big fat androids and your sister was the biggest android in town.

- Android.

- Androidyoidyoidy.

- Andyandyandy! Andyandyandy!
Profile Image for Orsodimondo.
2,154 reviews1,693 followers
February 14, 2019

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), il Blade Runner.

Il romanzo di Dick (1968) è bello, molto bello, in qualche modo anche importante. Il film (1982) che ha ispirato, diretto da Ridley Scott è andato oltre, è di più: è un capolavoro cinematografico entrato nell’immaginario collettivo. Mi spingo a dire che è probabilmente uno dei film più importanti mai realizzati.
Per me è impossibile parlare dell’uno senza fare riferimento all’altro, senza mettere in comunicazione le due forme d’arte.

Rachael (Sean Young), il replicante più umano di un umano.

Harrison Ford non aveva bisogno di essere il Blade Runner, ma il film aveva bisogno di lui, che era già stato Ian Solo in Star Wars e Indiana Jones (oltre che alla corte di Francis Ford Coppola in “La conversazione” e “Apocalypse Now”, e last but not least, era già stato il falegname di Joan Didion:
I spent a couple of months there in their house, every day. First thing in the morning, last thing at the end of every day, explaining why we hadn’t made more progress and how it was going to cost even more money. I think I became their carpenter for the same reason I became their friend. It’s that I was out of my depth, kind of. I didn’t know where I was going, how I got there.).
Ma entrambi, film e star, hanno saputo collaborare al meglio, il film rendendo l’attore ancora più iconico, l’interprete imprimendo un segno indelebile al film.

Roy Batty (Rutget Hauer), il capo dell’equipaggio Nexus 6, il replicante che ha visto cose che noi umani…

Gli altri intrepreti hanno usufruito dell’immenso successo di quel film, ma sono riusciti a cavalcarlo e sopravvivergli solo per poco: uno dopo l’altro sono sbiaditi, chi più chi meno.

Pris (Daryl Hannah). Nel romanzo è identica a Rachael.

Mr Scott siede alla tavola dei grandi del cinema, pur alternando opere di qualità oscillante, alcune proprio mediocri, altre dignitose, ormai poche luminose, come invece gli capitava al principio della carriera (The Duellists – I duellanti, Alien).

Leon (Brion James) con Deckard: è il primo replicante a essere ‘terminato’ da Deckard.

Libro e film sono parecchio distanti, tanto che all’inizio P.K.Dick era piuttosto scettico: ma si ricredette quando vide set e scenografie, a quel punto diventò sostenitore entusiasta del progetto, ma morì prima di poterlo vedere completo.
L’azione si sposta dalla San Francisco del romanzo alla Los Angeles del film: location presentata come sovraffollata, caotica, trafficata, mentre la città del libro trasmette sensazione di vuoto, silenzio, solitudine.

Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), qui nei (ridotti) panni di Miss Salomè.

Ma direi che la differenza sostanziale è nel tono che si porta dietro il resto: la pellicola è molto più noir, nella classica versione hard-boiled (Chandler, Hammett i riferimenti), che di fantascienza. E il film ha una spiccata nota romantica che manca nell’opera di Dick dove Rachel è sicuramente un replicante che si concede con generosità per proteggere il resto dell’equipaggio Nexus, mentre per Scott la sua natura rimane in bilico, e la storia col cacciatore di taglie Deckard è autentica e passionale.
Proprio il protagonista Deckart si trasforma: da grigio burocrate sposato con moglie depressa e frustrata (Iran, non possiede altro che animali elettrici), sullo schermo diventa single tenebroso e fascinoso.

Rachael e Deckard.

Nel romanzo gli androidi sono robot, esseri meccanici senza redenzione, sensibili ma spietati, non umani: sulle pagine il rischio è che gli umani siano già troppo inumani.
Nel film gli androidi sono creature la cui natura è più incerta, lo spettatore è spinto a empatizzare con loro che dovrebbero essere incapaci di provare empatia (ma invece, tra loro, il bacio di Roy a Pris morente…). Allo spettatore si lascia pensare che lo sfruttamento nel lavoro nelle colonie extra mondo è pura schiavitù, e quindi gli androidi, ribellandosi al loro status di oppressi, diventano esseri con istanze più che condivisibili, gladiatori.
Gli androidi del film hanno sentimenti umani, ma anche poteri quasi sovrumani che nel romanzo non hanno: il film ribalta il rapporto tra il cacciatore (il Blade Runner) e le sue prede, quest’ultime ben più abili, intelligenti e forti di lui.
Il rimescolamento della concezione filmica dell’androide arriva fino al punto che nella director’s cut (la versione del regista), è lo stesso Deckard, l’eroe, il protagonista, a essere quasi sicuramente egli stesso un androide.

Anche gli abiti del film, disegnati da Michael Kaplan e Charles Knode, rimangono indimenticabili, come le scenografie, la fotografia, la musica, la sceneggiatura, la regia, le interpretazioni.

Poi, certo, a cominciare dal titolo dell’opera letteraria, il tema degli animali, veri o finti, è molto più importante, diventa uno status symbol che nel film è solo vagamente accennato.
E poi certo, il monologo finale di Roy, che nel libro non esiste, è diventato una delle t-shirt più celebri.
E poi, certo, il film è un magnifico mélange di vecchio (i ventilatori, la vasca da bagno…) e moderno, moderno e antico (la piramide della Tyrell Corporation).
E poi, certo:
Io non so perché mi salvò la vita. Forse in quegli ultimi momenti amava la vita più di quanto l'avesse mai amata... Non solo la sua vita: la vita di chiunque, la mia vita. Tutto ciò che volevano erano le stesse risposte che noi tutti vogliamo: "Da dove vengo?" "Dove vado?" "Quanto mi resta ancora?" Non ho potuto far altro che restare lì e guardarlo morire.

L’origami unicorno lasciato alla fine da Gaff (Edward James Olmos): promessa, avvertimento, o minaccia?
September 14, 2020
Ειλικρινά με το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο δεν μπόρεσα να συνδεθώ σε κάποιο ουσιαστικό επίπεδο.

Ίσως να είμαι κι εγώ ένα ανθρωποειδές εξελιγμένο μεν αλλά μέχρι ενός σημείου, καθώς δεν κατάφερα να νιώσω ενσυναίσθηση για τους ανθρώπους και τα ζώα που αναφέρονται στην ιστορία.

Δεν μπόρεσα ούτε στο ελάχιστο να ταυτιστώ με τον πρωταγωνιστή - εξολοθρευτή-
δεν μου έδωσε το έναυσμα να βιώσω τον κίνδυνο που διέτρεξε πολλές φορές και να αγωνιώ, τον άφησα με τη ρηχή λεκτική και φυσική αντίδραση του προ τους γύρω του χωρίς να με ενδιαφέρει συναισθηματικά.
Όλες οι συγκρούσεις συμφερόντων και επιχειρημάτων καθώς και η επικύρωση βασικών θεμάτων στο βιβλίο είναι απολύτως επίπεδες.

Το νόημα του μυθιστορήματος επικεντρώνεται στην αγάπη για το ανθρώπινο είδος και το ζωικό βασίλειο γενικότερα.
Για έμβια όντα που έχουν αναπαραχθεί και γεννηθεί, εδώ υπεισέρχεται πολύ άκομψα η διαχωριστική γραμμή ανάμεσα στους γεννημένους και στους κατασκευασμένους.
Άνθρωποι και Ανδροειδή.
Τα ανδροειδή είναι εξελιγμένοι κατασκευασμένοι άνθρωποι που τους λείπει ως ενα σημείο το πλεονέκτημα της ενσυναίσθησης.
Γι’αυτό το λόγο χρησιμοποιούνται ως σκλάβοι και έχουν προσδόκιμο ζωής τέσσερα έτη.
Θέτονται επίσης λεπτομέρειες σχετικά με φιλοσοφίες και θρησκείες του μέλλοντος και εμμονές σχετικά με τα ζώα.
Ο κάτοχος ηλεκτρικού ζώου είναι υποδεέστερος κοινωνικά σε σχέση με άλλους που επένδυσαν περιουσίες και έχουν υπό την κατοχή τους αληθινά ζώα.

Ο πλανήτης γη μετά τον τελευταίο πυρηνικό πόλεμο είναι μια ζοφερή κόλαση.
Τα ζωικά είδη έχουν εξαφανιστεί, σχεδόν όλα τα ζώα έχουν αφανιστεί, εξού και το σύμβολο καταξίωσης σύμφωνα με το κατοικίδιο σου.

Το μυαλό και το σώμα των ανθρώπων εκφυλίζεται απο τα πυρηνικά απόβλητα και η μετακίνηση σε άλλον πλανήτη δεν είναι επιλογή ζωής μα επιβίωσης για όσους έχουν πνευματική ενάργεια και οξύνοια για να το κάνουν.

Οι υπόλοιποι, οι εκφυλισμένοι, μεταλλαγμένοι, ψυχικά ασθενείς, «Κοκορόμυαλοι»και κάποιοι ρομαντικοί με την τραγωδία της κόλασης παραμένουν στη γη.

Ζούνε σε περιοχές που καθημερινά σκεπάζονται απο σκόνη και βροχή ραδιενέργειας, δεν υπάρχει τροφή, επικρατεί ερημιά και εγκατάλειψη και μαυρίλα αποσάθρωσης στα πάντα.

Παρόλα αυτά το πρόβλημα έγκειται στο γεγονός πως τα ανδροειδή που κατασκευάζονται απο τεράστιες επιχειρήσεις εκατομμυρίων που εδρεύουν στη γη στέλνονται στον Άρη ως δώρο για τους νέους αποίκους.

Τα πολύ εξελιγμένα πλέον ανδροειδή δεν διαφέρουν σε τίποτα απο τους ανθρώπους εκτός απο τη συναισθηματική νοημοσύνη.

Κάπου εδώ αρχίζει η ασυνέπεια μέσα και πέρα απο την πεζογραφία ακόμα κι αν πρόκειται για επιστημονική φαντασία. Δεν γίνεται να πλασάρεις εύκολες λύσεις επειδή απλώς δεν εξηγούνται.

Και επειδή οι άνθρωποι φοβούνται την εξέλιξη των ανδροειδών που τείνουν να είναι πανομοιότυπα δικά τους σαν απο διαφορετικές φυλές ή εθνικότητες, υπάρχει η αστυνομία που εξολοθρεύει τα ανθρώπινα ρομπότ χωρίς καμία ενσυναίσθηση επειδή αυτά δεν έχουν ενσυναίσθηση. ...Ταυτόχρονα το να σκοτώσεις μια αράχνη που επίσης δεν έχει συναισθηματική νοημοσύνη θεωρείται μεγάλη παρανομία και ιεροσυλία.

Μισούν τα ανθρωποειδή που ξεφεύγουν απο τον Άρη και φτάνουν στη γη να ανακατευτούν με τους ανθρώπους και δε θέλουν άλλο απο το να αντιμετωπίζονται οπως και οι κανονικοί γήινοι.

Η βασική διαφορά είναι η συμπάθεια, η συμπόνοια που έχουν μόνο οι άνθρωποι και έχει δημιουργηθεί μια ολόκληρη θρησκεία γύρω απο αυτήν.

Είναι το λογικό και ηθικό δίδαγμα που υπερέχει.
Κάθε μορφή ζωής προϋποθέτει σεβασμό και μέγιστη αρετή. Δεν σκοτώνουμε ούτε κατσαρίδα επειδή έχουμε συμπόνοια
μα εξολοθρεύουμε άλλα πλάσματα για τον ίδιο λόγο.

Τέλος, αφού η γη είναι μια πλανητική σαβούρα γιατί τα ανδροειδή δραπετεύουν απο τον Άρη και έρχονται στη γη που κινδυνεύει η ζωή τους;

Οι τεράστιες επιχειρήσεις κατασκευής ανθρωποειδών που στέλνονται σε άλλους πλανήτες γιατί κατοικοεδρεύουν στη γη;

Μέσα σε όλη τη ζοφερή θανατερή και πνιγηρή ατμόσφαιρα που επιβιώνουν οι κάτοικοι της γης υπάρχει τοσο αναπτυγμένος πολιτισμός ώστε να υπάρχουν θέατρα και μέγαρα μουσικής;

(Ένα ανδροειδές δολοφονήθηκε επειδή τραγουδούσε υπέροχα στην όπερα ανάμεσα σε ανθρώπους).

Μέσα σε μια φωλιά ανθρωποειδών που έχει την βάση της στη γη πως εξηγείται η βασική παρουσία και η καίρια θέση ενός ανθρώπου; Που αποσκοπεί; Πως εξηγείται; Και γιατί δημιουργεί πραξικόπημα ;

Σύμφωνοι, η επιστημονική φαντασία γεννήθηκε για να δημιουργεί ερωτήματα, όχι όμως ασυνέπειες, ανοησίες και έλλειψη συναισθημάτων. Πόσο μάλλον σε ένα βιβλίο που πρεσβεύει την ανθρωπιά και το συναίσθημα.

Βασικά η διαφορά θα μπορούσε να είναι όπως σε ένα μουσικό κομμάτι.
Ξεκινάει με ακουστική κιθάρα και συνεχίζει με ηλεκτρική. Τότε η μελωδία γίνεται πιο έντονη και η αίσθηση πιο επιθετική και δυνατή απο πριν με την ατμοσφαιρική και ήσυχη μουσική της ακουστικής κιθάρας.
Το ανθρωποειδές ειναι το ισοδύναμο ολοκλήρου του μουσικού κομματιού που παίζει το ακουστικό.

Αξιολογώ με τρία αστεράκια διότι συμπάθησα και ένιωσα τον κοκορόμυαλο οδηγό ασθενοφόρου σε μια εταιρεία επισκευής ηλεκτρικών ζώων. Αυτός ήταν ότι πιο γλυκό σεμνό και σεβαστό δημιουργήθηκε ως αντιήρωας. Καθώς επίσης και για την εμμονή του συγγραφέα με τα ζώα.

Το βιβλίο έχει αρκετές ενδιαφέρουσες ιδέες για την κατηγορία που ανήκει και κατατάσσεται στα κλασικά του είδους. Μα λυπάμαι για μένα ήταν λογοτεχνικά απογοητευτικές.

Καλή ανάγνωση.
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
May 5, 2019
Meet humans. Meet specials. Meet animals. Meet androids.
Gage their empathy and retire them. Practice Mercerism.
Dial your moods. Love your animals.
Have fun in this wonderful world!

Plot holes that I disliked:
- Why employ a 2nd pair of andy killers instead of making some andys pose as such?
- 2 police precincts?
- 2 sets of andy tests. Osencibly both effective? Why not make a bogus one and be done with it?
- The animals thing - underdeveloped.

What do you do, roam around killing people and telling yourself they're androids? (c)
"Phil Resch, Rick Deckard. You're both bounty hunters and it's probably time you met. ©
"The androids… are lonely, too." (c)
If you set the surge up high enough, you'll be glad you're awake; that's the whole point (c)
"My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression," …
I sat down at my mood organ and I experimented. And I finally found a setting for despair. …
"So I put it on my schedule for twice a month; I think that's a reasonable amount of time to feel hopeless about everything, (c)
At his console he hesitated between dialing for a thalamic suppressant (which would abolish his mood of rage) or a thalamic stimulant (which would make him irked enough to win the argument) (c)
Despair like that, about total reality, is self-perpetuating. (c)
A 481. Awareness of the manifold possibilities open to me in the future; new hope … (c)
"I can't dial a setting that stimulates my cerebral cortex into wanting to dial! If I don't want to dial, I don't want to dial that most of all, because then I will want to dial, and wanting to dial is right now the most alien drive I can imagine; I just want to sit here on the bed and stare at the floor." (c)
"My horse … is pregnant." …
"What do you say to that?" ...
"I say pretty soon you'll have two horses," (c)
Owning and maintaining a fraud had a way of gradually demoralizing one. (c)
"But," Rick interrupted, "for you to have two horses and me none, that violates the whole basic theological and moral structure of Mercerism. (c)
“Can you believe we really pulled this off?” ...
“Not really. I’m waiting for the next helicopter to land.” (с)
If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me,
time after time. (c)
Your long jet-black hair is one of your best features, but the high ponytails and dramatic updos you currently favor convey a look of aggression. When you enter a room, the ladies immediately think, “This woman is either going to steal my husband, my baby, or my yoga mat.” (c)
I will provide you with an essential oil made from ylang-ylang, sage, and other secret ingredients that will make you smell like you have been baking apple tarts all morning. (c) Ok, this is unbelievable. Ylang-ylang is one of the most striking aromas that are totally unlike apples. Hmmm…
"An android," he said, "doesn't care what happens to any other android. That's one of the indications we look for."
"Then," Miss Luft said, "you must be an android. (c)
The thing about rabbits, sit, is that everybody has one. I'd like to see you step up to the goat-class where I feel you belong. Frankly you look more like a goat man to me. (c)
December 6, 2021
✔️ Exceptional writing
✔️ Mind-blowing world building
✔️ Master storytelling
✔️ Insanely rendered sci-fi capitalism

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is THE book of baffled expectations and skewed realities. Of fake-dom, or, colonised authenticity. Of chillingly overlapping parallel worlds.
↪️ Where the blurred boundaries between human and android are confounded to the power of infinity, and you will have to question whether you're sufficiently human, after all.


Meet Rick Deckard, bounty hunter working for the San Francisco police agency. Aka killer of escaped humanoid robots. His dream? To have a real sheep (as he did once, a long time ago: in pre-War blissful times). Or a colt, a goat, an owl, a toad, for that matter. A real animal. Will his dream come true? Does he humanly deserve it?

Meet John Isidore. A special, aka a chickenhead. Yes, low IQ, high empathy. His weakness? He is alienated - forbidden from abandoning the kipple and dust-infested Earth for the publicised better life: on Mars. Not bothered by the dire difference between human and android, Isidore rather seeks community, and reads the world feelingly.

Life on Earth is quasi-apocalyptic. Penetrating dust, everywhere. Decay. Animals, extinct: replaced by their ersatz - electric - equivalent. Androids in the sinister shape of humans. Political power, in the hands of those who know that the human is, to say it with Nietzsche, all too human; and knowing this, they will exploit it, come what may.

Philip Dick's narrative, I suggest, is not so much a prophecy as a self-fulfilling prophecy. What it does is interpret an equation, provocatively replicate the spirit of an age, giving an ending to a horror story. This, above all, is a political and heavily politicised account of humanity that exposes human double standards, and is filtered through a genre that very suggestively makes of human extinction a possibility, or rather, a probability.

The Rosen Association is fast advancing. In record timing, it has invented the Nexus-6 variant, the new challenge to the Voight-Kampff empathy scale test. The association is tasked to efface this difference. Dismantle 'empathy' as it did 'intelligence'. What better way, then, than to manipulate the enemy into viewing its humanoid counterpart empathically? This, Rick's fate and trajectory, rendered multi-stratified and complex via the increasingly overpowering sense of loss, of human loss, in the face of killing that which feels human. 

Achilles's Heel orchestration? Indeed. For the Rosen project is to take over: colonise. Mercerism, the ideal of communism, equality, and hope, itself a propaganda, is blown to smithereens by this all-pervading power emblematised by Buster Friendly, the TV programme running 24/7 that acts as a counter-propaganda. The problematic evolutionary question that Dick delves into throughout the novel seems to be that of the range between authenticity and artificiality, between animal and android. The human ambition to gain entry into pure authenticity via the acquisition of a rare, real animal is tragically tramped upon till the very end, disclosing it as a mere illusion. And yet, it all operates on a platform of convoluted reversals. Humans possess empathy boxes and mood-altering machines. The humanoid robot Luba Luft has a sublime voice, a beauty that is all too human. The bounty hunter of a parallel Mission, Paul Resch, appears to have become as cold and cruel as an android. 

You see, it is simply not that simple to tell: are we more human, or more android? Do androids, also, dream of sheep?

4.75 ⭐

Definitely a departure from my more earthly reads, and yet this classic is all that sci-fi readers make it out to be, and so much more.
Delightful from start to finish. The fun counterpart of thought-provoking. And yet, also, insightful; exquisitely haunting.
Profile Image for Leonard Gaya.
Author 1 book865 followers
September 4, 2020
Do Androids is one of the most famous novels by P. K. Dick, probably due to Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, which was loosely adapted from it. I was quite surprised to see that, apart from the general plotline and a few character names, the movie has very little to do with the novel.

A couple of things that are fascinating in PKD's work (not depicted in the film) are (i) the relationship between men and (mostly robotic) animals in a post-nuclear war environment where most animals are extinct, and the human population has migrated to Mars, and (ii) the religious-like experience of "mercerism" where people get fused, through an Empathy Box (a sort of game console), with a mysterious man called Wilbur Mercer, who endlessly climbs a hill, while being stoned by surrounding onlookers... Perhaps some kind of Sisyphus or Jesus walking towards the Golgotha?
Profile Image for Steven Medina.
189 reviews843 followers
November 10, 2020
Más simple de lo que esperaba... ¿Qué acabo de leer?

En realidad 2,8

Este libro reconocido mundialmente como un símbolo de la ciencia ficción, con películas muy famosas y con un público muy adepto, para mí significa una puerta que me comunica con la nostalgia de los años pasados. Como ya lo he dicho en varias reseñas, hace algunos años no disfrutaba de la lectura y justamente en esa época fue que conocí este libro. La historia, comenzó un día en el que mi hermano estaba aburrido en su trabajo, tanto así, que resultó buscando por internet libros de ciencia ficción para distraerse un rato. En ese momento eligió El juego de Ender, se lo devoró y luego me lo recomendó porque solíamos ver películas y anime juntos. Yo le seguí el juego y también lo leí, pero creí que ese era el final de las lecturas compartidas. Para mi sorpresa una semana después nuevamente estaba promocionándome otro libro, esta vez este, porque lo había escuchado recientemente en un audiolibro y le había encantado. Ese día el título me llamó mucho la atención, pero a pesar de ello no lo leí y quedó como una recomendación ignorada. Sin embargo, hace unos meses estaba navegando por internet y sin darme cuenta resulté investigando personas famosas que compartían mi día de cumpleaños. La sorpresa fue grande al enterarme de que uno de esos seres nacidos un 16 de diciembre era Philip K. Dick. En ese momento recordé esta obra y desaparecieron mis dudas: Tenía que leerlo, así no me gustara. Siempre he sentido curiosidad por conocer cómo piensan quienes nacieron el mismo día que yo.

Pero no todas las historias tienen un final feliz. En esta ocasión debo reconocer que aunque el libro me gustó ha sido un texto tan extraño que es inevitable no sentirme contrariado al momento de expresarme sobre esta obra. Intentaré hacerme entender, pero primero es necesario explicar que la historia presentada por Philip trata sobre un cazarrecompensas llamado Rick Deckard que tiene la tarea de desactivar unos robots llamados Nexus 6. La humanidad se ha visto forzada a viajar a Marte para intentar sobrevivir de la grave contaminación que se presenta en la Tierra, debido a la Guerra Mundial Terminus que llenó el aire de plomo y que causó el exterminio de casi todas las especies. El resultado es un mundo desolado, triste y en estado de destrucción, característico en este tipo de libros clasificados como distopías. Los Nexus 6 buscando un futuro mejor huyen a la Tierra para mezclarse entre los restantes seres humanos y así llevar una vida más tranquila dejando atrás la esclavitud, pero naturalmente eso no es permitido por lo que tendrán que permanecer ocultos por su propio bien.

Como pueden leer, la sinopsis y el contexto son excelentes, pero el problema es que entre más iba avanzando más pereza fui sintiendo. Parece que Philip desarrolló tan bien su mundo que cuando tuvo que desarrollar sus escenas no usó la misma dedicación, por lo que a medida que avanzaba el libro se fue volviendo aburrido, predecible y simple; la falta de acción, también fue un factor negativo que afectó directamente la intensidad de una historia muy prometedora. Además fue muy complicado acostumbrarme a su prosa, principalmente en el inicio, porque Philip nos hostiga con muchos términos de su mundo que no comprendemos. Ese detalle nos obliga a leer lentamente porque cada palabra puede ser tan importante, que en una pequeña distracción podemos perder el hilo de la historia. Obviamente Philip conocía su historia y todo ese vocabulario era muy familiar para él, pero da la impresión de que no pensó en sus lectores porque algunas palabras ni siquiera las explicó.

Pero tranquilos, no todo es malo. Uno de los aspectos más positivos de este libro es la denuncia sobre las guerras y las terribles consecuencias que pueden causar en nuestro planeta. Podemos progresar tecnológica y científicamente, pero por encima de todo hay algo muy valioso que no vale la pena arriesgar bajo ningún motivo. ¿Saben que es eso tan valioso? La vida. Es muy triste ese futuro desalentador donde la mayor parte de animales están extintos y donde los pocos sobrevivientes son exhibidos en jaulas para venderlos como mascotas. ¿Quiénes son los verdaderos animales? Lo peor es que estos personajes no se preocupan por el bienestar de esos seres porque solo les importa mantener la apariencia de que tienen una mascota.

Asimismo, en este libro dos dispositivos presentados por Philip me dejaron mucho que pensar. El primero, denominado Órgano de Ánimos Penfield, tiene la función de alterar las emociones del usuario. De esa manera, si por ejemplo necesitamos trabajar pero no tenemos deseos de hacerlo, tan solo oprimiendo el botón correspondiente, el Penfield nos proporcionará ese empuje necesario para cumplir nuestra tarea; también, sirve para elegir lo que queremos sentir: Alegría, tristeza, depresión, etc… todo eso el Penfield lo hace posible. ¡Qué invento tan peligroso! Debido a este aparato los personajes no parecerán humanos porque han perdido toda su capacidad para relacionarse. El libro está cargado de conversaciones tan extrañas como encontrar un desconocido y decirle «Hola, me he comprado una cabra» hasta acciones sin sentido como comprarle una pintura a alguien que debemos asesinar. El uso constante del Penfield ha causado una sobreestimulación tan grande que terminó por destruir al verdadero ser humano. Lo preocupante es que en la vida real también tenemos un Penfield, pero disfrazado de noticieros amarillistas, de la cantidad de información que recibimos diariamente en internet y de una vida que no tiene pausas y que nos agota sin clemencia segundo tras segundo. Por ello, es que recomendaciones como meditar, hacer ejercicio o desconectarnos de la tecnología son mensajes valiosos que tenemos que considerar y practicar más seguido por el bien de nuestra salud mental. No recuerdo el nombre del otro dispositivo, pero lo que sí recuerdo es que agarrando las dos palancas que lo conformaban causaba que la persona entrara en un mundo virtual donde hablaba y veía a otras personas. Lo negativo es que mientras hacían esta actividad permanecían en un estado inconsciente en el mundo real e incluso podían sangrar estando conectados. Creo que los comentarios sobre este dispositivo sobran, ¿verdad?

En cuanto a lo mejor del libro, este premio se lo lleva el test Voight-Kampff, dispositivo que ayudaba a identificar quién era androide y quién no. Los exámenes, por llamarlos así, fueron muy interesantes con sus preguntas y análisis por lo que captaron todo el tiempo mi atención. De no ser por el test Voight-Kampff no habría conocido la incertidumbre en este libro. La cacería de androides también estuvo muy interesante, pudo ser mejor pero es aceptable.

Y pasando de lo negativo a lo destacable, ahora es turno de platicar sobre lo anormal. ¿Por qué este libro se llama así? Para ser franco, sigo sin entenderlo. Supongo que debe ser por estética o por algún tipo de filosofía personal, pero es un título que no corresponde con lo que encontramos en estas páginas. No entiendo como no pudo encontrar otro mejor. De hecho, Blade Runner o el cazador implacable como esta historia es conocida en sus películas, es un mejor nombre para esta historia porque describe lo que encontraremos, pero ¿Sueñan los androides con ovejas eléctricas? es una pregunta que no se resolverá después de terminar el libro por lo que no tiene sentido. Lo otro extraño fue el final que me pareció confuso, sin emociones y que para ser honesto no me gustó en lo absoluto.

En resumen, un libro que por su excelente contexto merece las cinco estrellas, pero que tiene aspectos negativos e incongruentes que naturalmente le bajan la calificación. Sin embargo, el dilema es que ahora tengo serias dudas de leer otro libro del autor, porque temo encontrar más de lo mismo en sus demás textos. Quizás en un futuro muy lejano intente leer Ubik, pero es algo incierto e improbable.
Profile Image for Dennis.
659 reviews269 followers
May 23, 2020

Many questions arise when one reads Philip K. Dick’s 1968 sci fi classic. But one question I specifically had to ask myself was, Why on earth did I give this a four star rating when I joined Goodreads? Am I completely nuts? I leave it up to you, dear Goodreads friends, to answer that question. But thanks in advance for your encouraging words.

Personally I’m going to put it down to circumstances. I was reading this book for the first time while I was on vacation in Barcelona. It took me about a week to read it, even though it’s only 193 pages, because I simply didn’t have much time to read. And therefore most of my reading was done in short spurts, often while I was standing in crowded places or even not been standing at all, but walking to some other place. That’s really not how a book like this should be read.

Even though it is a fairly easy read, and possesses the qualities of a page-turner, your mind will be working overtime. Trying to figure out what is, and what is not, and what it all means.

There is much more in the book than there is in the movie. Mood organs, empathy boxes, Wilbur Mercer and Buster Friendly, an electric sheep, of course. There’s much for you still to discover, if so far you‘ve only seen the movie(s).

But the main point is the same as it was when in 1982 Blade Runner finally got onto the big screen. As androids have become so similar to us that it is increasingly hard to tell if they are androids in the first place, and they might not even know it themselves, then what is it that differentiates us from them? And is one worth more than the other? What if we have decided on a certain quality that distinguishes us from them, but then we realize that some people don’t possess that quality? Or maybe they possess it to a lesser extent than the average person does. Are they not humans then? Are they lesser humans? Are they? Are we? What are we?

We follow bounty hunter Rick Deckard on his assignment to retire six rogue androids, as he wrestles with those questions himself. He will come across some persons that could be androids or could be humans. Deckard will not know initially. And neither will the reader. At some point the reader might even ask if Deckard himself is an android. The ambiguity of the text, in spite of PKD’s easily flowing and easily understandable prose, is a real treat.

The other POV is that of J.R. Isidore, a special, meaning someone with a below average IQ that was not allowed to leave for Mars, as most of mankind did after World War Terminus, and is now degenerating because of the radioactive fallout. He’s living all by himself in a deserted apartment building and basically only comes into contact with other people while he’s at work. That is, until one day he discovers that an android has moved into the building and he tries to befriend her (it?).

At some point the paths of these characters will inevitably cross and all of them are about to lose something in the process.

And then there’s the matter of Wilbur Mercer and Buster Friendly, of course. Find out for yourself. ;)

Thanks to my pathetic memory (or the circumstances – remember the circumstances?) I tremendously enjoyed this re-read. And honestly, I think there’s so much here in the text and also between the lines that I’m quite certain I’m going to read this again in the future. And I might enjoy it equally as much then or even more than I did during this second read.

I’m finally moving this to my favorites shelf now.

Highly recommended!

Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews781 followers
September 3, 2018
Probably my favorite Philip K. Dick book, Goodreads' favorite too by the look of it. As you are probably aware the classic sci-fi movie Blade Runner is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Great as the movie is when I first saw it I was very disappointed as it bears very little resemblance to this book. The filmmakers jettisoned most of what makes this book so special and focused only on the android hunting aspect though at least it does explore the moral issues involved. The movie’s visuals are certainly stunning, and the world of Blade Runner is beautifully designed. However, it not the world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is set in a dystopian Earth much dilapidated after “World War Terminus”, most of the populace have already emigrated to the colony on Mars. This is not a post-apocalyptic setting, however, as government, the police, and businesses are still functioning though everything seems to be quite shabby. Radioactive dust has killed off most of the animals and the dust is still everywhere, not to mention the masses of “kipple”, basically rubbish that seem to grow by itself.

This is the cover of my old copy of this book. Love it!

This coveting of animals is one very crucial aspect of the book not used in the film adaptation. Ownership of real animals (as opposed to electric ones) is a status symbol, much more so than fancy cars which nobody seems to be interested in. The protagonist Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department whose job is to hunt down and exterminate androids that escaped their life of servitude on Mars to live among humans on Earth in the guise of humans. His dream is to own a large real animal, but at his salary, he has to settle for the eponymous electric sheep.

The questionable morality of hunting down androids is nicely explored here. They are machines but they are also living, thinking beings, they have souls, or in a more secular term, sentience. Human life on Earth is generally miserable but they do have some interesting ways of alleviating their mood. The most direct way is by the “Penfield mood organ” with a dial for adjusting moods to numerous settings, then there is the “empathy box” that let you live the life of a Messiah while you are plugged in; entertainment on TV is basically just one show “Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends” somehow broadcasting live 24/7.

This is one of the most well written Philip K. Dick books, Dick’s writing style is often criticised as poor or clunky, and his dialogue is often said to be stilted. I think his critics are missing the charms of his minimalist prose style which is an ideal vehicle for the bizarre stories he had to tell. His admittedly stilted dialogue seems to be very fitting for the universe his often eccentric characters occupy. Also, now and then he suddenly slips in the odd poignant passages like “You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”. He was quite capable of writing elegant prose when it suited him. However, the stories and the ideas were more important to him.

A cyberpunk-ish cover

Some of the dialogue is also oddly hilarious:
“I can't stand TV before breakfast.”
“Dial 888,” Rick said as the set warmed. “The desire to watch TV, no matter what's on it.”
“I don't feel like dialing anything at all now,” Iran said.
“Then dial 3,” he said.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has some of Dick’s best characterization. The characters are more vivid than most of his other books. Deckard and the “chickenhead” (brain damaged) J.R. Isidore are particularly believable and sympathetic. The androids are generally rather callous but quite pitiful all the same. There are also moments where reality seems to wobble wonderfully in the patented PKD style but this time without the aid of any hallucinogen.

I can not praise this book enough, it really is one of the all-time greats. It is a pity that Hollywood is now planning to make Blade Runner 2 instead of making - for the first time - a faithful adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

Note: Interestingly Dick foresaw an android model called "Nexus 6", but I bet he did not imagine they would look like this.

Graphic novel cover
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
May 27, 2013
Treasure of the Rubbermaids 20: Failing the Voight-Kampff Test

The on-going discoveries of priceless books and comics found in a stack of Rubbermaid containers previously stored and forgotten at my parent’s house and untouched for almost 20 years. Thanks to my father dumping them back on me, I now spend my spare time unearthing lost treasures from their plastic depths.

In the spirit of Phillip K. Dick‘s questioning of reality and identity, it’s fitting that there are two versions of this story. One is the novel he wrote in which a police bounty hunter tracks down and destroys androids while he tries to earn enough money to buy a real animal to snap his wife out of a depression. The other is a film version in which a disillusioned ‘blade runner’ is forced to track down and kill dangerous replicants despite his growing sympathy for them. I also like to think that PKD would probably get a laugh because of the approximately one thousand different director’s cuts of the movie available to further confuse us as to which is the ‘real’ story.

The world is pretty much a wasteland after a nuclear war, and the smart people are getting off the planet. Human-like androids have been developed to help with colonizing other worlds, but they have a habit of returning to Earth illegally and trying to hide. Police bounty hunters use an empathy test to identify them and then kill them on the spot. Rick Deckard is called in after the senior bounty hunter was nearly killed while hunting a group of a new type of android. Deckard is anxious for the big payday that he’d get because he’s embarrassed at not being able to afford a new animal to replace the fake sheep he bought after his real one died. He hopes that being able to get a real animal again will snap his wife out of the depression she’s in that even their mood organ device can’t fix.

If you’re hoping for futuristic tech in this, you’re going to be disappointed. PKD’s strength wasn’t in envisioning what the future would look like, and the idea that Deckard’s electric sheep has actual audio tape in it to simulate noises seems laughable now. Flying cars and laser tubes seem like the kind of sci-fi you’d get from any pulp writer of the era.

But that wasn’t the point, and PKD’s tech was always just an excuse to get at the more interesting issues of questioning reality and identity. In this one, the question is what it means to be human, and the hunt for the androids is used to explore the idea of empathy. It’s also a nice touch that with most of the animals killed by the nuclear fall-out, that owning a real one is the ultimate status symbol and any type of mistreatment is a shocking taboo. Deckard longs for an animal to care for while killing things with human faces. Are they too deserving of sympathy or is their humanity a mask over an overwhelming desire for self-preservation that essentially makes them all sociopaths? That’s the interesting stuff in this book.

Even though the Blade Runner movies adopts the basic story as well as several other elements, it’s not really a faithful adaptation of the book. It’s a sci-fi classic that became the template for the look of dystopian futures in film, but while the two share DNA, they feel like different beings in a lot of ways. (I think that Richard Linklater’s Rotoscoped verson of A Scanner Darkly is probably the best adaption of PKD’s work in capturing it’s tone and theme.)
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
September 6, 2020
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter for the San Francisco police, the year 2021 ( January 3rd), wow only a few months from now. His mission is to "retire" six androids who fled bleak Mars and illegally came to Earth (Elon Musk did y0u do this?). World War Terminus has depopulated our world, radioactive fallout called "dust" continues coming down and slowly killing the survivors, they have moved to cities. Making many of the people still living chickenheads excuse me, special. Animals are virtually extinct electronic duplicates are in great demand, real ones cost a fortune to buy but humans need their pets ... Rick has a phony sheep, his mental health requires him to get the real article, his job can make this happen. The U.N. encourages everyone to migrate to the Red Planet, giving a free robot slave for all who do (they're built there) on arrival. But Mars is uninhabitable, stark, lonely a horrible hell hole a frontier without any charm or romance, nothing to recommend settlers hate the place feel like prisoners yet the government keeps that a state secret. But the hopeful Earthlings must have a future... Mr. Deckard has not a very understanding wife and unfriendly too Iran, calls him inaccurately a cop, doesn't like her husband's job, the pay is very lucrative though he tells her. She spends most of her free time, using the Empathy Box ( the Mood Machines, keep people mostly contended) just turn the two handles and you fuse with Wilbur Mercer and his new religion of Mercerism, "Kill only the Killers ". A kindly old man forever climbing a hill, being struck down with rocks by unseen murderers. You can be hit too, when you take the trip and experience it yourselves, feel like you are really there... Mercerism has opponents led by Buster Friendly, calls the religion a fraud the enormously popular television host, in the only channel not run by the government how he works hour after hour tirelessly, broadcasting his talk show through the many hours of the day and on radio also, is a mystery... Rick has taken over the mission to eliminate the "andys'", because his predecessor Dave Holden was shot and almost terminated by the new model of robots Nexus-6, brain units almost as smart as genuine people. The original 8, are down to just 6 thanks to Holden, still in the hospital. Deckard's boss Inspector Bryant is not sure of the new man, wants him to do the almost impossible destroy all of them in one day. But first flying to Seattle and meeting the makers of these humanoids, Eldon and his niece Rachael Rosen in the Rosen Association building, needing their help and trying the Voigt- Kampff machine, to detect the human looking andys. Later the dazed, exhausted, remorseful bounty hunter thinks of sleeping with a female android, what in reality is a human being ? Back on top of the roof of his crumbling apartment complex lies his hovercar... up in the air he floats above what's left of the sad town, the city is no more, garbage everywhere kipple it's called now the world has become a gigantic dump... flying towards his uncertain destiny... A thought- provoking science- fiction tale with a message, which requires the reader to find it themselves. A classic.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,164 followers
July 5, 2008
It's hard to know where to start with this book. On the one hand, I want to say it was amazing and highly original and extremely thought-provoking. On the other I want to say it was often confused, contradictory and obscure. Well, I guess I just did :)

After wars and then radioactive dust obliterated much of the planet, the majority of the human population fled to colonies on Mars and elsewhere, taking their own personal android servant. Some stayed behind, either because they had been contaminated by the dust or for whatever personal reason they have. With apartment buildings mostly empty and rubbish and dust everywhere, it's a bleak existence (and not actually terribly realistic - with hardly any vegetation left there shouldn't be any breathable air at all), yet life for the androids in the colonies must be worse if some are escaping and trying to have "normal" lives on Earth.

These androids have to be hunted down and "retired". Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department, earning $1000 per andy. One of the other bounty hunters, Dave, retired two andys of a group of eight but was shot by the third, Roy Baty. Now Deckard has taken over the assignment and must track down and retire the remaining six, who are all masquerading as humans. The one test they have to distinguish these realistic machines is the Voight-Kampff test, an empathy test - because the one difference between humans and androids, they believe, is that the andys are incapable of feeling empathy.

When it was first published in 1968, it was set in 1991. Later editions changed that to 2021 - this edition is set in 2021. I expect they'll probably change it again in a few years. It's interesting that Dick had such little faith in us - that we would ruin the planet so quickly and absolutely - and such enormous faith - that we would be advanced enough, technologically, to escape it. Having given it such a short time frame, and no doubt excited by the advent of space exploration and television in the 60s, I get the impression Dick, and everyone else, had high expectations of human achievement.

The book is very different from the movie, so I'm not going to bring up Blade Runner except to say that if you've watched it, it won't have spoiled the book for you. Although it did lead me to expect some kind of revelation or focus on the possibility of Deckard being an android, which isn't the case. He's not an andy. The possibility looms because of the callous indifference the bounty hunters have towards the androids, their ability not to be taken in by their human appearance and to kill them. Ironically, Deckard suffers from too much empathy and starts feeling sorry for the andys. Briefly.

The post-apocalyptic aspects of this story interest me perhaps the most, but they're not all that satisfying. It's a horrible, horrible world, highly polluted and littered. There's a lot here that's unanswered, and doesn't always make sense. That closed-in feel of the movie is here - it has such a narrow geographical scope, with little world-building structure to hold it up. Who is running things? Some kind of government, but not the same kind as now. Why are abandoned suburbs still getting electricity and clean water? Where does the food come from if nothing can be grown? What kind of fuel do they use? How does the Mood Organ work and why do they need it? (perhaps to counter the bleakness.) There's mention of the Soviet Union and the UN, but nothing about any other country, giving the feeling that the United States is a lone land floating in a big empty sea with nothing to anchor it.

And what of Mercer? The empathy box? Grip the handles and you are drawn into a shared existence with everyone else who's gripping the handles of the box at the same time, bodily transported (it feels like) to a desolate desert where you climb along with old man Mercer up a hill, toiling and being hit by rocks which make you bleed in real life, only to suffer greater torment at the top and be sent to the tomb world to start again. Sounds like a complicated computer game but it's more like a religion. Empathy is the only thing that separates humans from androids, and the only way the humans left on Earth can dispel the utter lonliness of their existences. There are no children here.

There were too many contradictions here for my liking. When Rick tests Rachael Rosen and finds out she's a Nexus-6 android, he asks her "father" if she knows and he says "no", and it's evident from Rachael's reaction that she doesn't. But then later she's sent to seduce Rick (not a difficult task) to help the escaped Nexus-6 andys escape, again, or make it hard for him to retire them, especially Pris who looks the same as Rachael - and Rachael, when he realises and confronts her, tells him she's done it before, with other bounty hunters, and shares her knowledge and philosophy about being an andy. Which means that she's known she was an android all along, and that, what, she cares what happens to the others? But they're incapable of caring, that's the whole point. And she feels enough to kill Deckard's goat, because he loves it more than his own wife, and certainly more than her. That's vindictive. That's jealousy. That's feeling.

There are other things that bugged me, obscure things mostly, and I don't have the time or energy to read it over and over again until I got it. If it's possible to get. I still think it's an amazing book, and raises a lot of questions about what it means to be human and so on. It's also a quick read and, set in one single day and night, quite fast-paced. It's structured well, and, for a science fiction book, relatively easy to read. There are some very surreal scenes, like when Mercer "manifests", and some tense ones - the worse scene in the entire book, I found, was when Pris was cutting the legs off the spider. There's not a whole lot of violence and the ending wraps up quickly - there's no drawn-out fight scene, the andys aren't very confrontational or aggressive, unlike in the movie. They have superior intelligence but weren't designed to be killing machines.

Which begs the question: why do they need to be retired? They only have four years of life anyway, because their cells can't regenerate, and they just want to live their own lives. And if this is unacceptable then why create them that way? It doesn't make sense. I can understand the human need to kill any rogue andys, and the need to feel superior over another being etc., but why make them so realistic? And surely the need these rogue andys have to escape their servitude is a clear indication that they have dreams and aspirations like humans do, and therefore some amount of feeling?

"Do androids dream of electric sheep?" is a very good title, and meant literally. The humans aren't aspiring to make the world a better place or have children or anything like that, only to make enough money to buy an animal, or at the very least, an electric one, like Deckard's electric sheep. If he were an android, would he still have that desire? The humans measure empathy by how much they feel towards animals - the questions in the test measure reactions to bear-skin rugs and mounted deer's heads and meat for food. Yet despite this "empathy" they do nothing about making the few surviving animals' situations better; the empathy equates more to a possessiveness than to a genuine concern for the animal as another living being.

I'm just talking out my cluttered thoughts here, sorry to ramble on. You can go round and round with this book and never arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, but it's still worth the ride (if I were to use a cheesy line, which I just did, and won't change, because this has exhausted me and I'm falling back on cliches just to wrap it up).

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.6k followers
January 31, 2020
Here’s how this book went for me:
- first 15%: I am very confused and therefore having a hard time focusing (because I hate feeling dumb and when I do I act out and/or throw a tantrum like a petulant child who is not interested in their first grade arts and crafts activity)
- 15% to 50%: I am, inexplicably and suddenly, VERY interested in the story and having trouble putting the book down
- 50%: Extremely enthused about the idea of what I think is a plot twist. Disappointed by the realization that it is not.
- 50% to 90%: Upset and semi-disturbed at the turn the story has taken.
- 90%-98%: Pleased at a Man in the High Castle-esque turn to Great Meaning and Sweeping Statements. (I think PKD does this so well. Judging by, you know, two books.)
- 99%: Able to determine that I still don’t like this as much as Man in the High Castle.

So. A mixed ride.

But then, Man in the High Castle is a high bar for me.

In other thoughts: I love Philip K. Dick’s voice very much. The way he writes is Fantastic, my guy.

Downsides: Women are a major afterthought in this book. Like, majorrrrr. To the point of one getting cheated on with a robot and still playing the happy little wife role at the end. Which...we’ve all been there. (I’m kidding. I would kick that guy’s ass into next Tuesday.)

Bummer that baseline misogyny is so par for the course in sci-fi that I'm like "cool, yeah, business as usual, back to the android fighting thanks."

Also, I wish the first 15% was just a little longer so I didn’t feel SO STUPID and like I was playing catch up, but this is a selfish wish.

Would appreciate if everyone and everything in the world would cooperate so that I continually feel smart for the rest of my days. Thx.

Bottom line: It’s good...but it’s not Man in the High Castle good.

Also the movie sucks.


zoo wee mama.

review to come / 4 stars


if i like this book half as much as i like the title, we're in business
Profile Image for Justin.
39 reviews2 followers
June 25, 2014
I've been saying for years that this book is boring. But it's more than that, it's not excusable in the way that a purely boring book can be. Instead, it's a tremendous idea told badly.

It seems that when Dick wrote this he didn't have a good grasp on translating his big ideas into an engrossing--or even active story. It's not that there's no movement in the story. Things happen, but even when they do, even in the throes of the final confrontation, when Deckard is retiring three andys in one abandoned apartment, nothing ever SEEMS to happen.

Making the mundane exciting is one of those rare skills that good writers--if they're going to make it anywhere--must have full command over. Making the exciting mundane is a failing that returns in cause to Truman Capote's characteristically droll critique of On the Road:

"That's not writing, that's typing."

The amazing thing about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Philip K. Dick in general is how easily we can excuse his incessant typing for those moments when--as if by chance--writing catches up with him. There aren't many of those in this book, but occasionally, when the skin of the words breaks and some real pathos shows through, the hundred pages we've slogged through to get to this point don't matter.

That's the glory of PKD's ideas, and why his work has become a well of cinematic creation, that when they work as they should they're masterful stories that explore much of the human condition. The drawback--and in some ways the tax we as readers must pay--is that when they don't work, it's like dragging through a swamp: resistant to forward progress, and distasteful in our mouths.
Profile Image for Caz (littlebookowl).
301 reviews40.3k followers
October 26, 2015
Maybe a 2.5? I don't know... Honestly, I don't really know how I feel about this book at all. All I know is that I was underwhelmed.
I think it just wasn't the right time for me to read this. Maybe in a few years I'll give it another go, because I liked the concept.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,547 followers
October 8, 2019
Very interesting story on which the epic film Blade Runner was based. The ideas are certainly original and I'd imagine that Ghost in the Shell was at least partially inspired by the ideas. I just felt the character development was rather shallow and the action somewhat predictable even if I was impatient to push on to see what would happen next. Well, I'll try a few more PKD stories, but perhaps it just isn't my style - sort of inventive like Isaac Asimov but trying to be trashy like Elmore Leonard, but not really surpassing either. But then, maybe his other books will be more to my liking.
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