Hey Virtually Readers! I just finished a fairly famous science fiction book called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? . It’s by Phillip K. Dick, and very much a part of the sci-fi canon. I can see a lot of the ways it influenced YA dystopia that I really like. Anyway, here is a post with some of my thoughts about it.
Basically, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is set in a post-3rd-World War world where much of the life has been destroyed by nuclear bombing. Earth is poisoned by ubiquitous radioactive dust that can’t be avoided. Everyone who can afford to has fled to other planets such as Mars. Part of the cost of fleeing is the promise that you will be provided a servant android and basically never have to work again once you emigrate. All food and such is shipped to Earth from these ‘colonies’ but sometimes something worse makes it down: rogue androids. Often almost impossible to tell from people, these androids are captured and ‘retired’ by human bounty hunters.
The story follows main character Rick Deckard as he’s given his hardest assignment yet: to track down 6 escaped androids of a new model which is more human-like than any before. He’s in it because he wants money to be able to buy a real animal, the ultimate status symbol in this life-less, dusty Earth that is succumbing to entropy. It’s hard to explain this book, but here are some of my thoughts on it…
Thoughts about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
- I took ages to read this, I think mostly because the world is incredibly depressing. I don’t want to imagine Earth without trees and animals. I think that was kind of the point though.
- Apart from Rick, there’s very little character development. It kind of felt weird because the plot jumped around (like suddenly a character realises he thinks another character is really hot but the whole relationship isn’t really developed). I suspect this is a) because the characters weren’t the main point and b) because I’m used to YA, whereas this is more literary and was written in a different time.
- Although this is a ‘classic’ of the genre, the writing wasn’t anything too fancy. But sometime the language really caught me, for example in this quote.
Silence. It flashed from the woodwork and the walls; it smote him with an awful, total power, as if generated by a vast mill. It rose from the floor, up out of the tattered tray wall-to-wall carpeting. It unleashed itself from the broken and semi-broken appliances in the kitchen, the dead machines…
- It gets really mind-bendy when you can’t tell the difference between humans and androids. Then there are humans who think they’re androids and androids who think they are humans. I liked how this was kind of explored–if nobody can tell, why do androids need to be ‘retired’?
- This book had some things I recognised from other YA books: the destruction and desolation of Marie Lu’s Legend series, the questions about androids and humans from some of Beth Revis’ short stories and The Body Electric, aspects of The Adoration of Jenna Fox. It also reminded me of Slaughterhouse 5, Fahrenheit 451, The Lunar Chronicles (in some respects), and The Knife of Never Letting Go more for the writing style and themes than actual content.
- I think this book was trying to make a point rather than stand out as a fine, enjoyable novel. But I didn’t really get the point? It did make me think –about the lines between human and not human, the morality of things like ‘mood boxes’ (basically you can use this device to give you certain emotions), and what Mercer symbolised.
- So Mercer is like this religion thing in the book. You ‘fuse’ with other people and experience walking up a desolate hill while having rocks thrown at you by your enemies in virtual reality. It’s something androids can’t do and kind of symbolises ~something~? I couldn’t really work out what, but the whole concept of Mercer definitely had a point.
- The epigraph was about a turtle that was treasured by people of Tonga. I like the concept of epigraphs but don’t really understand this one, except I guess it’s about animals and so is DADoES? The animals aren’t the point though–I think they more reflect the human conditions of empathy.
Overall, I’m glad I read this book and definitely found it interesting. However, I can’t quite say I got the point. I felt like I got all these themes and ideas and still don’t know what to do with them. Interestingly, this is quite common when I read ‘literary’ books–I didn’t get the point of The Bell Jar at all. Food for thought perhaps…