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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (original 1968; edition 1996)

by Philip K. Dick

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11,672286228 (3.97)2 / 469
Member:ashbrau
Title:Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Authors:Philip K. Dick
Info:Del Rey (1996), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1968)

1960s (233)
Unread books (1,500)
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English (269)  French (5)  Spanish (4)  Italian (2)  Polish (1)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  Romanian (1)  Portuguese (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 269 (next | show all)
The premise for the movie Bladerunner, follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter with the San Francisco Police Department, whose job is to retire (kill) androids who have escaped from their duties and come to Earth illegally. As he begins a hunt for a group of Nexus 6 androids, part of a new, extremely intelligent biological model, he begins to question the possible feelings/rights of machines, the world he operates on, and who he is. In a world where animals are considered sacred and people who cannot afford them buy almost perfect mechanical replicas, where ‘Mercerian’ beliefs hold life in the highest regard, a world where murder, hunting for sport, and eating meat are anathema, the line between life and technology, human and machine, is increasingly vague, and the Nexus sixes even have Rick questioning whether he is human or another Nexus 6. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
"...ultimately, the empathic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated."

It is 1992 and the world has been completely altered by World War Terminus and the nuclear destruction that caused a radioactive dust to descend over the entire world. Most of earth's residents had relocated to a new colony on Mars and the government encourage more people to do so. The radioactive dust had killed many forms of life and all humans are expected to own and keep animals with many of the animals becoming extremely expensive. So a market for electric animals has sprung up.

Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter working with the San Francisco police department. His job is to "retire" androids (andys). Rick dreams of one day owning a real animal.His wife Itan is more in touch with the decay of the world around her and is a devout follower of Mercerism, a kind of religion. The point of Mercerism is to bring all humanity together in a show of empathy.

Rick owns a sheep, but it is an electric sheep, a secret he keeps to himself. He longs to own a real animal but in order to afford one he knows he must retire a great many androids so as to collect the bounty. Rick believes that by owning an animal, human beings are able to show empathy, the one emotion that belongs to them alone. One day, Rick finds that his department senior had been seriously injured in an encounter with a new kind of android, the Nexus-6. Rick then becomes responsible for finding and retiring the remaining Nexus-6's. All the action takes place over a 24 hour period as Rick strives to fulfil his mission.

Empathy is the main theme of the novel and each character in the novel must deal with what it means to be empathetic and whether that allows someone to be valued as a living thing. Rick hates his electric sheep precisely because he believes it cannot feel any love for him, even though he cares for it. This feeling allows Rick to perform his work as a bounty hunter believing that androids, like his sheep, are incapable of true human emotion and therefore not worthy of life.Yet, Rick soon learns that androids may be capable of empathy and humans may be able to be devoid of empathy causing a shift in Rick's understanding of himself. Suddenly, Rick finds that the lines between what one can call living or what one can call not-living are blurred.

As a rule I'm not a great fan of SF and it has been quite a few years since I saw Blade Runner, the movie that this novel spawned so I was uncertain as to what to expect. In the end I enjoyed the book finding it an easy read but one with a definite and somewhat thought provoking central message especially as we live in a world where robotics are becoming more and more prevalent in everyday life. Also despite there being an aura of total devastation of Deckard's world the fact that towards the end animals that were thought to be extinct (real or not?)reappeared seemed to suggest that nature will always find a way to readjust and in some form recover. Overall a very enjoyable read. Now where can I get hold of the film? ( )
  PilgrimJess | Apr 5, 2015 |
Androids, though common on the outworld colonies, are banned on Earth. Bount hunters are hired to seek them out and destroy them. Our protagonist, Rick Deckard, is one such bounty hunter. I've only seen the movie once a long time ago, so I can't really make any detailed comparisons. That said, this book certainly had a very different feel to it. I can't decide whether I liked it. I mean, I liked Deckard's dilemmas regarding the nature of life and the "action" parts where he's hunting down the androids. I liked his angst about his electric sheep. I didn't understand the quasi-religious parts of it, and there were sections that seriously dragged. I guess, like other classic SF titles, I'm glad to have read this but I don't think I'll ever read it again. ( )
  melydia | Mar 22, 2015 |
One day in the life of an android bounty hunter — that is the frame of this witty, philosophical science fiction novel, which was written in 1968 but is set in the year 2021. By 2021 colonization of Mars has been underway for several years — even before World War Terminus, which has turned planet Earth into an irradiated dust bowl where massive extinctions have transformed animal ownership into the equivalent of what luxury car ownership was to the American of 1968. People who qualifiy as to age and intelligence are lured into migrating to Mars by the promise of being provided with a fully functioning almost human android upon arrival at the red planet. People whose numerical age is too high or whose numerical IQ is too low are left to live out their days on Earth where civilization has been all but destroyed and the population decimated. It is illegal for an android to be running around free on Earth. They are made strictly for use on Mars. Androids have reached such a high level of development that the only way to distinguish them from humans is by administering a highly sophisticated empathy test or a postmortem bone marrow examination.

Inevitably, androids on Mars who are the functional equivalent of slaves, will occasionally go rogue, kill their "masters" and anyone else who gets in their way and commandeer a ship back to Earth. Thus the need for bounty hunters.

A group of six of these fugitive androids have made their way back to Earth and are on the loose in the San Francisco area, and it is the duty of our hero bounty hunter to find, test and destroy these creatures. Many ethical questions are raised in the course of this intriguing novel, and it is not surprising that the bounty hunter would be transformed in the course of carrying out his mission.

In addition to the interesting premise of the novel, the problem of reading a book written in 1968 and set in 2021 reveals many incongruities related to how the author thought the world would be in 2021 and the way it actually is in 2015. In Philip K. Dick's imagination, the world has not only very humanlike android helpers and space migration, but it also has videophones, hover cars, laser guns and — in the absence of real animals — electric sheep, goats, rabbits, etc., to substitute for pets. However, it does not foresee personal computers, laptops and notebooks, the Internet or cell phones, much less smart phones.

Despite these anomalies, or perhaps because of them, we have here an engrossing exploration of the many questions raised in a post-nuclear holocaust environment where an artificial being whose intelligence makes it competitive with human beings must be dealt with. It is left to the reader to come up with answers. ( )
3 vote Poquette | Mar 6, 2015 |
I'm still not entirely sure what I thought of this book. I rarely ever read books this old, so it's interesting to see the difference in people's views of "the future" and what qualifies as "action." The premise was interesting enough, and the storyline was definitely food for thought. As the reader, you're left trying to figure out what's real and not real, and you start to think a little harder about what the definition of humanity really is. ( )
  EJFisch | Feb 28, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (62 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dougoud, JacquelineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duranti, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michniewicz, SueCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Struzen, DrewCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wölfl, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zelazny, RogerIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
And still I dream he treads the lawn,
walking ghostly in the dew,
pierced by my glad singing through.
~ Yeats
Dedication
To Tim and Serena Powers, my dearest friends
To Maren Augusta Bergrud
August 10, 1923 - June 14, 1967
First words
A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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Wikipedia in English (4)

Book description
Haiku summary
Rick Deckard, bounty
Hunter, "retires" androids
And reflects on life.
(passion4reading)
The best thing about
This book? It inspired a
Thought-provoking film.
(passion4reading)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345404475, Paperback)

"The most consistently brilliant science fiction writer in the world."
--John Brunner

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.

Emigrées 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."
--Paul Williams, Rolling Stone

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:48 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 14 descriptions

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