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Customer Review

192 of 224 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's life, Rick, but not as we know it..., December 10, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: The inspiration for the films Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 (Paperback)
Sometimes one wonders why some people even bother to read. If you are a fan of the movie Blade Runner, and you are a little disapointed by this book, then shame on you. You shouldn't be reading books in the first place then! Rarely can movies capture all the themes and ideas of a book, and rarely can books capture the artistic cinematography of film. The two media are separate. Treat them as such.
What Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are about is the routine of police bounty hunter Rick Deckard. His job is to hunt down and "retire" fugitive androids. But what the movie only scratched the surface of is WHY those androids are fugitives. Fans of the character of Data from Star Trek, or of the computer Mike from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will find the familiar theme of what it is that defines the difference between artificial intelligence and artificial life.
This is the realization that Deckard comes to and must deal with: these androids are not mere machines with off-switches, they are living creatures, aware of their own existence and their own mortality. In the post-nuclear holocaust world that Deckard exists in, humans define life by their ability to feel empathy. Empathy for the lives of each other, empathy for the lives of the remaining animal species of earth decimated by fallout, or empathy for artificial life. Eventually, Deckard questions his own ability to feel empathy, and therefore, his own humanity. For if being alive is about feeling empathy, then how can he truly be alive without feeling empathy for the living machines whose job it is for him to kill.
In the film version, Rutger Hauer's performance as one of the androids briefly captured the theme of the book, but it was never really explored and was instead sacrificed for artistic license. If you were intrigued by special effects, skip this book and rent Terminator 2. If you were intrigued by the question of artificial intelligence and artificial life, then you may want to ask if androids really DO dream of electric sheep.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 24, 2007, 11:47:45 PM PDT
Chilly Polly says:
Yet another reviewer, possibly misled by the unfaithful film, entirely misses the point of Philip K. Dick's decidedly anti-robot novel. In the novel, the androids ARE mere machines. They are things pretending to be people, except that the pretense is horrifyingly effective. Androids DON'T dream of electric sheep, but, ironically, humans can. Hence, Deckard's humanity is damaged by the entirely-necessary task of rooting out and destroying the impostor machines.

Posted on May 24, 2007, 8:46:10 AM PDT
C. A. Luster says:
You are one of the few book reviewers I know that understands and appreciates the difference between the two artforms of books and movies. As a movie reviewer I rarely rate a book as I am out of my element. Now if I can just get book reviewers to stay away from movie reviews I will be a happy camper. I applaud you critic. Keep up the good work.

Posted on Feb 24, 2008, 7:37:04 AM PST
Simeon Lowe says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Apr 9, 2008, 9:59:42 PM PDT
Slurrp says:
wag your finger harder why not

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2009, 2:43:53 PM PDT
John Hevelin says:
I don't pretend to have fully digested this book yet, but I'm not sure it's accurate to call it "decidedly anti-robot." I think Dick is exploring the idea of what constitutes "life": is Deckerd's wife Iran as she is portrayed at the beginning of the book more "alive" than the android Rachael? And what are we to make of Iran's decision to care for the electronic toad at the end of book? The androids' main flaw is their lack of empathy, but I don't think Dick is saying that they couldn't be built with this quality. Lots of questions.
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