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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

(Quick note. I have decided to drop the whole 'current reading list' deal. I'm not even following it at this point. I'm jumping around as it is and I've just come into some review copies and the like that are going to take precedent over my reading list anyway. The only list that will remain constant is my awards list...)Philip K. Dick and his lovely work of art. This book is quite a treat. I've never read it before, but heard about it a dozen times. The story is about a bounty hunter named Rick Deckard. What does he hunt? Androids of course. The Earth, as it stands, has become a backwater world after a massive nuclear war that leaves cities in ruins and constant radioactive dust falling everywhere. The people who still live on Earth are lucky to stay alive without going insane, and those are aren't so lucky to keep their normal brains aren't even allowed to leave for other colonized worlds (Mars included). To add, humanoid androids are illegal on Earth. They come from Mars, usually going to extreme methods to escape servitude there to find a new life on the fallen Earth. Deckard hunts these androids to 'retire' them (which is a fancy way of saying 'kill'). The story itself takes place when six androids come to Earth and Deckard is brought on to take care of them.This is a fantastic novel. It might come off as a little difficult for some to come by. Some things such as Mercerism (which is the new world religion of Earth) and the Empathy Box might be beyond a lot of you to really comprehend, as they were for me. I wasn't sure what the whole deal with Mercerism was. Was it intended to be so bizarre that you couldn't believe it? Or are you led to believe that perhaps the people of Earth have just gone so nuts from the radiation that this is the next step? It's strange indeed.
Still, I found the world Philip created to be quite enthralling. It is dystopic--something I am hoping to perhaps place some heavy study in come the next couple years at UCSC. The world is dark. People are not normal. Animals are so far and few between that to have one is a sign of prestige, of wealth, and to have a rare animal is even more prestigious. People are so driven to own an animal that some buy android animals just so they can mimic others.
I recommend everyone read this. It is a staple in the scifi world, hands down.

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  1. Man it has been so long since I read this. It was very different from Bladerunner, the movie based on it. I was confused by the Mercerism thing too. But I was so caught up in the world of the book and movie that I made and ran a RPG based on it.

  2. You have my attention...a DADoES RPG would be awesome!

  3. The cool thing was that it had a very nice cyberpunk feel, before cyberpunk existed. The book made for a better RPG world than the movie if you wanted to retire "andys". You tended to empathize with the movie reps more than the book andys. Especially that Rachel. I guess she literally got Decker's goat.

  4. I don't think there was much room at all to empathize with the andy's in the movie, from what I saw anyway. And in the book. I felt bad for them right up to the entire section with Isidore and then it all fell apart and I was happy to see Deckard blow them away. The whole pulling the spider's legs off was horrible!