Classic Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Post United States, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if

#418 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

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

What does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to be human? If you live and function on your own, but aren’t technically human, are you still alive? Does you life have any meaning if you can’t be classified as a human? These are all things we would wonder about if we lived in the world that Rick Deckard lives in.

Rick is a bounty hunter. He doesn’t go after parole breakers or drug lords, he goes after androids. It’s the future. Things on Earth are bad. Nuclear fallout and dust has left the life of Earth desolate. Many people have immigrated to Mars. Rick still lives on Earth with his wife, Iran, in California.

Rick worries. He has an electric sheep. He used to have a real sheep, but the real sheep died. It was all very unfortunate. In the world Rick lives in, animals are worth a fortune. A spider just doesn’t walk across your floor. Cats and goats are traded at higher prices than cocaine. Rick wants the money to get a real sheep again. He tells his wife so. After arguing with this wife for a while about how they should dial their empathy boxes, Rick goes to work.

He is given a list of androids. He starts out with six. The androids look like people. The only way to distinguish them is by giving them an empathy test. The first android almost gets him, but he wins. He goes after the second, masquerading as an opera singer. This is when Rick starts to trip up. Luba is so much more alive than he thought an android could be. She’s autonomous. She thinks for herself. It’s strange to see the humanity he possesses reflected in her. After some confusion, Luba ends up dead and Rick feels bad. He knows feeling empathy for androids is a jeopardy to his job.

A friendly android agrees to help him out. She knows the three remaining androids on his list, in fact, she is on the list, but her humanity strikes Rick. After this assignment, Rick has to wonder what is really important. What does his life mean? Life seems to have become very mysterious. Androids aren’t the cold-hearted creatures he thought them to be. Mercer isn’t the god he thought he was. In the end, Rick has to go on with life, even if a bit defeated.

What I liked

This is a short book and easy to read in many aspects, but in others it’s difficult. In a short way it says a lot about humanity. What makes us human? What makes us different from an animal or a robot? What things would we value if life changed drastically? Rick has his eyes opened about the world. Sometimes things are stranger than you ever would have thought.

I liked the term “kipple.” This book uses the word for useless junk. It collects on its own. It multiples on its own. It makes sense. If a majority of the population of Earth left, there would be a lot of junk sitting around. It would appear to multiply all on its own. Junk seems to multiple all on its own at my house, although I try to keep an eye on it. I don’t like junk.

What I didn’t like

Books are supposed to make you think. They’re supposed to inspire your brain cells to start working and thinking about the world. This is one of those books that does make you think, but almost too much. It’s profound in a very simple manner. In a short while, Philip, is able to make us question our being and our humanity.

There would be much confusion if robots were created to look like people and function exactly like people. If they could develop their own conscious as the androids in this book seem to have done, how could we distinguish? It reminds me of the whole cloning debate. If you clone an animal, or if you clone a person, does that person have a soul? It’s just a copy right? A cloned human being would still be a human being right? It’s a big question of ethics. Of course a clone would still be a human being, but it’s a weird thing to think of. As far as I remember about cloning, the cloned animal’s cells are at the same age of the cells of the donor. So if you clone Dolly the sheep at two, the clone’s cells are two, even if the clone is an infant. I don’t know how that works out as far as a life span goes. There would almost certainly be problems if humans were cloned that would be hard to work out.

It reminds me of a really weird movie I watched. The movie is called Womb and stars Matt Smith(the eleventh Doctor). He’s cloned. He’s real. He lives, but he isn’t the same as everybody else. He smells different. He’s called a copy.

It’s not that the train of thought inspired by this book is bad, because it’s not, it’s that it’s a bit unsettling. It brings in this huge questions about us and about our existence.


I think this is one of those books I’m going to have to read more than once to really appreciate.

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Classic Fiction, Dick-Philip K., Fantasy, Fiction, Mystery, Post Apocalyspe, Post United States, Romantic Fiction, Science Fiction, Social Commentary, what if