Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – BOOK REVIEW

do androids dream of electric sheep pillip k

THE STORY COULD be utterly dreadful, and I’d still love Philip K. Dick, if only for the best book title I know of. Inspired.

To business: Clocking in at only 210 pages it didn’t take me long to read. I’d never read a book by the author before but this novel has been on my mental list of TBRs (To Be Read) for awhile. The blurb:

‘World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn’t ‘retiring’ them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal – the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.

Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard’s world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit – and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted..’

The premise is simple, man vs androids. And yet it isn’t: like so many great books before and after. Built upon that foundation what Philip K. Dick does masterfully is to use that very basic premise and turns it loose in the future, in a bleak setting, where technology is on the verge of matching human intelligence, where androids seem as real as humans, the only way to tell them apart is through psychological testing. But how accurate are the tests? What makes a human human?

Philip K. Dick will make you question morality, ethics, consciousness and reality, somehow managing to do so, solely (mainly) through the footsteps of the protagonist on his journey to hunting down the Nexus-6 targets. A few segments are a little offbeat, where the author drifts off, but not for long. Overall it’s an oustanding book and one of my favourites, one of those that sticks in the mind after reading it. I had existential questions tumbling through my mind the following day. Some of the sci-fi ideas are inspired showing a fantastic imagination and I’m awestruck at how Philip K. Dick managed to pack so much weight into such a short book yet it doesn’t read heavy.

Also, if you have seen Blade Runner, I recommend reading the book, as the film is only loosely based on the novel. And vice versa, watch the film if you have read the book. I found they compliment each other very well.

Excellent read – 5/5

lion around 2

32 Comments

  1. Loved this book! I actually bought the entire PKD collection for my husband for christmas. He wanted to read DADOES but I figured I’d love to read more too…

  2. For me the comparison between the film and the textual story is more interesting than either of them on their won…opposite opinions about the Replicants, between film maker and writer for example! And the difference in Deckard, and his life from book to screen…

  3. OK, after your review I decided that thirty years of ‘meaning to read it’ was probably long enough. Finished it the other day and while I agree that it’s good, I think the film edges it. Blade Runner distills some of the elements in the novel into a glorious visual package with a tight story and iconic characters. The book has a few more themes (the Mercerism elements would have been a nightmare to film well) and perhaps the characters are a little difficult to relate to; I guess apart from J.R. and Deckard their motivations were quite obscure. (As an aside, did you feel that Buster Friendly had an element of Krusty the clown about him?)
    I enjoyed the book but I think the thing I’ve got most out of it is a better understanding and appreciation of the movie. And there’s sufficient material and threads in the book to fuel a decent sequel – but whether it’d actually be any good is another issue.

    1. It always feels good to read something we’ve had earmarked for ages.
      I know what you mean about the book and frankly if I hadn’t watched Blade Runner prior to reading maybe my enjoyment would have been different. I pictured the book like the film scenes.
      As much as the characters aren’t well developed, I didn’t mind that, I felt the story and details were enough for me – the consumerist mindset of needing a real animal was much of the motivation for Deckard which I thought reflected well on todays society.
      And yes, I got the Krusty clown thing too lol.
      As for a sequel yeah, there’s enough there for sure. And I liked how the original film had lots of nice touches that weren’t in the book, possibly one of the best adaptations ever.

  4. I just recently visited my local library and snatched their entire PKD collection. Currently reading “Dr. Futurity” great read so far. (Flow My Tears & Eye in the Sky are also great).

  5. I have read the book and seen the movie–both I considered well worth my time. PKD’s body of work is timeless. I consider Kurt Vonnegut’s in the same vein. Lion, if you haven’t read Slaughterhouse Five by KV, I highly recommend it. The movie based loosely on it was okay, but didn’t hold true to the book.

      1. Yes, it does. Lengthwise, in genre fiction–like you and I write–if we don’t churn out close to 100,000 words, no one wants to see it. Literary fiction is a whole other thing.

      2. It seems that authors of a certain era wrote classics around the 200 page mark, doesnt seem to happen too often now.
        Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse 5, Do Androids Dream…, The Old Man and the Sea, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm and plenty others all relatively short yet powerful.

  6. Absolutely agree with your 5/5 rating. One of my top five books of all time. Philip K Dick is a genius. The Man in the High Castle is extraordinary too.

    Re’ your wee chat above (or below. Not sure where this comment will appear) about the Blade Runner sequel I think it should be left well alone. Well alone. Blade Runner is timeless. Still holds up perfectly today, and to me hasn’t aged a day.

    It’s one of the very few book adaptations that works. And boy does it work. Probably because it’s quite loose in it’s adaptation. I don’t want anything to sully the original. Even if Ridley Scott comes back to direct.

    Some things should just be left alone. Just go make a unique Sci-Fi story, Ridley, and leave the Blade Runner name alone.

    1. Thanks for dropping by, I’ll keep Man in the High Castle in mind.
      And I largely agree re Blade Runner, I’m sick of seing sequels etc, Hollywood has totally lost all creative momentum. I can see Blade Runner working however, simply because there is a lot of untouched material from the book. Either way it will never match Ridleys original shoot, which to me says, why bother.

      1. Man in the High Castle is a cracker. I’m going through a real Sci-Fi stage at the moment (a stage that has now entered it’s 2nd year! ha)

        I originally thought that regarding there being enough material left over from Do Androids Dream…. that they could make a decent sequel/prequel film (or even a film that runs concurrent with Blade Runner, time wise). But if the material had worked then it would’ve made it’s way into Blade Runner.

        Oh man. I’m now thinking that a movie that occupies the same time frame might be quite cool. Sort of like how the third Bourne Movie sort of starts half way through the second movie!

    1. Blade Runner is excellent. It’s funny though because, the film really isn’t that faithful to the book, however it is still a great adaptation. Check the book out, it’s well worth it.

      1. Bit difficult to say, Lion. I read ‘Minority Report – 18 Classic Stories’ and ‘The Philip K Dick Reader’ which if I can remeber has even more stories and although his work should seem dated, this does not seem to be so or at least does not matter. I should start maybe then with the ‘Minority Report’ collection, which should be easily available.

  7. I’m a huge Philip K Dick fan and loved this book! I don’t understand how he can layer such a complex story and have it be so clear to a reader – he’s definitely someone who inspires.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it too πŸ™‚

    1. Thats news to me. Hmmm, generally I’m not a fan of sequels and trilogies, reboots etc Hollywood has lost all originality in the last 15 years or so…however Blade Runner II could go places, theres plenty material the first film never delved into. *scarper to see if theres a trailer* πŸ™‚

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