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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: The inspiration for the films Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 Paperback – May 28, 1996
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Praise for Philip K. Dick
“The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world.”—John Brunner
“A kind of pulp-fiction Kafka, a prophet.”—The New York Times
From the Inside Flap
"The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world."
THE INSPIRATION FOR BLADERUNNER. . .
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was published in 1968. Grim and foreboding, even today it is a masterpiece ahead of its time.
By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . .
They even built humans.
Emigrees to Mars received androids so sophisticated it was impossible to tell them from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans could wreak, the government banned them from Earth. But when androids didn't want to be identified, they just blended in.
Rick Deckard was an officially sanctioned bounty hunter whose job was to find rogue androids, and to retire them. But cornered, androids tended to fight back, with deadly results.
"[Dick] sees all the sparkling and terrifying possibilities. . . that other authors shy away from."
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This is a moral dilemma for Decker and he cannot untwist his increasing sympathy for the androids he is hunting from his sense of duty to the force and his wife.
It is very sad and very depressing especially when you are clearly presented with androids who are not sympathetic, do not care, except about their own survival, and can only imitate emotion, not really feel. In the end Decker is crippled by his murder of the last of the androids. He will no longer hunt them, can no longer kill them.
Blade Runner hinted at this moral dilemma but spectacle triumphed over substance and all we have left of it is Decker's moves to save the woman/android he has come to love. That, and the magnificent monologue of Rutger Hauer on the roof of the Bradbury Building. Stunning performance. That recollection of his life makes him human, no different then other humans but then, it's time to die. Love, love, love that scene.
I found the world the author created to be fascinating. While there is fear of androids, humans use devices to dictate their emotions. Television is a major factor in their lives, and religion is embraced but controlled. The author handles all of this and more in a matter-of-fact style, drawing the reader into a future that at times is strange, yet vaguely familiar to those of us living in what would have been PKD's future.
The story is told through two people, the bounty hunter Rick Deckard and John Isidore, a "damaged" human who lives for a time with the androids Deckard is hunting. The reader sees the world through the eyes of these two men, and we are allowed to experience the inner turmoil both must deal with as the story rushes to its conclusion.
While I still love the movie, the differences between the book and movie versions are why I awarded five stars. Some of the book explained a bit of the back-story never told in the movie, and the well-detailed future world is definitely worth your time.
My favorite quality of this novel is how pkd shifted the world and examined the cultural impact of it. After WWT, live animals became scarce leading to a market of life like robotic animals. Actual animals became pricey commodities and a symbol of status. Our hero of the novel desires a living animal, and he obsesses over it throughout to an almost comical degree. This is where the title comes in, he owns an electric sheep and wonders if the androids have their own humanlike desires.
A great read, i see why PKD is a legend. His imagination is astounding and breaks all the rules without breaking a sweat. Will read more of his work including this novel again. You should too.