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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968)

by Philip K. Dick

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Blade Runner (1)

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16,176419239 (3.96)2 / 705
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)
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English (390)  French (5)  Italian (5)  Spanish (4)  Swedish (3)  German (2)  Dutch (2)  Portuguese (1)  Polish (1)  Danish (1)  Catalan (1)  Romanian (1)  All languages (416)
Showing 1-5 of 390 (next | show all)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? depicts one day in the life of Rick Deckard, a San Francisco cop with a tough assignment ahead of him. It is January 2021, some 50 years in the future from when the book was written, and a catastrophic global nuclear war has left much of Earth uninhabitable. Most humans have emigrated to other planets, along with their android personal servants, and by now only a few living beings remain behind. (So few, in fact, that owning a live animal has become a highly coveted status symbol for an Earth-bound human, with the possession of an animatronic surrogate being a frequent alternative.) However, eight of the most advanced model of android have killed their human masters on Mars and escaped back to Earth. Two of these renegade androids have already been “retired” (i.e., killed), so Deckard’s task is to identify and retire the other six—before they retire him, of course. In that effort, he enlists the aid of Rachel Rosen, a member of the family-owned company that made the androids and who is herself of mysterious background.

That simple plot summary might make this book seem like a straightforward mash-up of a standard science fiction tale with some hard-boiled detective fiction, but this is a novel that runs so much deeper than that. Using spare, direct language, author Philip Dick has actually crafted an engaging story that also offers a deeply philosophical examination of what it means to be human. What is it, for instance, that truly separates human beings from complex artificial life forms? (The ability to empathize with others appears to be at the heart of the author’s answer). Further, what does drawing that line between real and fake imply about the ethics of, say, being able to legally kill one type of organism versus another or allowing humans and androids to engage in physical relationships? Framed around Mercerism, a fictional theology based on the plight of the long-suffering martyr William Mercer, this on-going debate threads its way throughout the story and it is what really elevates the book to a status beyond a mere thriller.

With the luxury of considerable hindsight, we know that Dick did not create his future world with perfect vision; for example, flying car technology is still not here and we do not use coin-operated pay phones anymore. Nevertheless, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has been a highly regarded and influential book for many years and across myriad genres. Notably, the book served as the basis for the Blade Runner film franchise and spawned a number of literary sequels to continue telling Deckard’s story. More recently, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun relates an affecting tale of human-android (or “artificial friend”) interaction from the AF’s perspective and with a similar focus on where bio-robotics stop and being fully human begins. (Interestingly, Ishiguro’s novel was published within just a few weeks of the day on which the events in Dick’s story took place.) Overall, this was an enjoyable and stimulating book to read and one that has generally stood up well to the test of time. It is easy to see why it is considered to be a classic of its genre. ( )
  browner56 | Apr 4, 2021 |
When I started reading this I thought I'd get used to the characters obsession with animals, but even now I've reached the end, I still can't quite understand what it is that drives this deep-seated obsession. A lot of animals are extinct, most are extremely rare and there's a certain primitive prestige to be gained by owning a real animal as opposed to an electric/artificial one, so I can understand them really, really wanting to own one, but that deep-seated obsession..?

This, of course, is the book that Blade Runner was based on. In many ways the film had a good deal more atmosphere, what with it's dystopian, quasi-oriental feel, and the endless rain, and none of this weird animal business. Still, it's very easy to read and difficult to put down. Dekhard is very well done, although it helped I think that I couldn't help but see Harrison Ford in the role. Rachel was very much the same, and although I half-liked the ending in the film(with them both driving into the beautiful countyside), I definitely preferred the books less sacarine ending. I say half-liked because something about the ending in the film just jolted with me. Where did the beautiful green countryside come from for example? And if it's been there all along, why aren't more people living there? Or anybody at all really? Not a soul is to be seen as they're driving through this paradisical countryside.

So anyway, the story is well known at this stage I think. There are glaring differences apart from the animals already mentioned, such as Mercerism, which seems to be some sort of futuristic psuedo-religion helped along with a good dollop of future technology. It's very strange and stikes me as coming off sort of half cocked. What I mean is, it's a good start as far as it goes, but the idea needed to be more than simply a means to become one with everyone else. But then perhaps it's hopelessness was intended to mirror the dystopian world around them. I don't know. It just felt underdone as an idea really. Another difference that was perhaps even more striking was the ease with which Dekhard dispatches the remaining few Andy's(skin jobs in the film, which I liked better than the term Andy's). He simply walks in and shoots them. Job done.

I really liked the Rachel/Dekhard storyline though, and the way she makes him truly realize that everything has life, even an Android in it's own way. Part of me would have liked to have seen this relationship in a little more detail though instead of just having her go and throw his goat off the roof and him almost shrugging it off and saying, 'meh... she's just an android after all', or words to that effect anyway.

In summary, I really enjoyed this book. Felt parts were a little too alien and maybe tried a little too hard to be so, but on the whole, a book I could easily see myself sitting down and reading again sometime in the future. I wish to god there was a sequel. Very enjoyable. Loved it.
( )
1 vote SFGale | Mar 23, 2021 |
I so wanted to enjoy this and I still feel bad that I just came away confused with a mild headache. Maybe I was too young at the time to fully 'get' it, maybe it's just not my thing. ( )
  ashelocke | Feb 17, 2021 |
I have always sort of wondered about whether or not I should read this book, as Blade Runner has been one of my favorite/most-fascinated-by movies ever since I saw the (now alien-to-me) theatrical cut on UPN's Sunday Afternoon Movie (there's some self-dating for you) with Harrison Ford delivering his monologue over an eternally nocturnal Los Angeles. I found it for $4 at Green Apple Books and said what the hell.

Dick's writing is sparse, but deeply fascinating. Deckard here is a much more troubled man than the noir protagonist in Blade Runner, the decaying San Francisco(!) just as fascinating as, but entirely different from, the movie's LA. I was sucked into this book somewhere around the halfway point and couldn't stop, and the ending's revelation was like a hammer blow to the head.

I'm still a little reading-loopy from finishing this (see also my Little, Big review), but I'll sign off by saying that this is a classic for a reason, and that I like to think I now have some kind of psychic connection to Philip K. Dick (as I have walked by the Mission Street SFPD station in San Francisco a bunch of times, and it has always given me a weird feeling). ( )
  skolastic | Feb 2, 2021 |
What a great book! Short, thought-provoking, complex, and overall fun to read. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dick, Philip K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Allié, ManfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dougoud, JacquelineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duranti, RiccardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frasca, GabrieleAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giancola, DonatoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Michniewicz, SueCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pagetti, CarloIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sleight, GrahamIntroductionsecondary 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.
Quotations
My schedule for today lists a six-hour self-accusatory depression.
You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
In 1968, Philip K. Dick wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, a brilliant sf novel that became the source of the motion picture Blade Runner. Though the novel's characters and backgrounds differ in some respects from those of the film, readers who enjoy the latter will discover an added dimension on encountering the original work. Del Rey Books returned this classic novel to print with a movie tie-in edition titled Blade Runner: (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).
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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

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Book description
It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill.

Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment--find them and then... "retire" them.

Trouble was, the androids all looked and acted exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!
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