Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Coming in at book nine is a book I borrowed from a fellow Book Club member. We haven’t been able to meet as a club recently so we have all been swapping books with each other to retain our status as a semi-active book club.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was written by Philip K. Dick in 1968. It is about life on Earth following global nuclear war (World War Terminus) and takes place in year *gulp* 2021.

The story takes place on an almost abandoned San Francisco. In fact the entire planet has almost entirely been abandoned. Anyone who was deemed suitable and had the funds to relocate to another planet did just that. What was left on Earth were people too poor to jump ship, specials (people whose brains were greatly affected by the nuclear fallout), a very limited number of surviving animals, clouds of radioactive dust, and decaying cities.

Because most of the animals were killed during World War Terminus or by the effects of the war they have an extremely high cash value. A spider was worth hundreds of dollars and a goat can be bought for $3,000 down and 6+ years of financing. The main character, Rick Deckard, carries a copy of Sidney’s Animal & Fowl Catalogue—a Kelley Blue Book for animal values—with him at all times.

Technology is so advanced, even on abandoned Earth, that many people resort to buying electric animals. Deckard and his wife Iran own an electric sheep. There are also electric humans, androids, roaming the earth, some of them unwarranted, and it is Rick Deckard’s job, as a bounty hunter, to kill, erm… “retire”, the unwarranted ones. The job gets particularly demanding when Deckard is tasked with retiring six Nexus-6 (a very advanced model) androids.

There is a lot to like about the book. I enjoy the futuristic technology in the book, hover cars, advanced weaponry, and holographic phone calls. The destroyed planet isn’t so likeable but the cool stuff the characters have access to is.

There is also a lot to dislike about the book. I feel like I missed an overarching theme or something. There is a religion called Mercerism in the book. People experience Mercerism by grabbing onto a thing called an empathy box, then they see themselves climbing a hill and get rocks thrown at them. Somehow that connects them to all the other survivors. I didn’t understand those parts very well and I thought the book flowed just fine without the random Mercer encounters and insights. Maybe I’m just blind to the message Dick was trying to get across.

There is also another main character that we don’t follow as much, but we get glimpses into his life here and there. His name is John Isidore. He is a special that lives by himself in an abandoned apartment building. He is a character who is easy to relate to for anyone who has ever tried their best and still felt inadequate. He gets yelled at by his boss and your heart hurts for the guy. Isidore’s story gets entangled with Deckard’s when the Nexus-6 androids take residence in Isidore’s apartment building.

Overall I would say the book is worth reading. Rick Deckard’s story is action-packed enough to hold my attention. He’s a bounty hunter, he kills androids, tries to decipher the androids from people, almost kills a human, sleeps with an android, tries to come to terms with the fact that androids are capable of empathy too and that his career is immoral, finally gets himself a prized animal, loses his prized animal and then tries to come to terms with that too. It’s quite the adventure.

To steal from Forrest Gump, that’s all I got to say about that.

This, sadly, is my first post in April. I hope to get back on track and post more regularly. I haven’t adjusted to having my new job as well as I would have liked, but I know I can make it work. I might have to come up with content other than book reviews in order to keep my posts more frequent. Possibly more hunting stuff, or maybe some aquarium stuff, or hockey, or baseball, or politics, I don’t know, I’m interested in a lot of things. Or maybe just keep it book reviews and just not post as often. Whatever I decide, thanks for reading this far.

Happy reading.


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