Saturday 4 February 2012
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick
I absolutely loved this book. It's been a long time since I have gone back to reading some classic sci fi. I forgot just how good it could be and this was one I found hard to put down. I have seen the film but that was years ago. From my vague memories of it though this book has very little to do with it. For a start the main characters sole obsession isn't to track down and retire androids. To him that's just a job and a means to an end. That end being to own his own real animal. After the war animals are so rare that everyone seeks to own one and will pay silly amounts to do so. Deckard himself isn't actually bothered which animal he owns just so long as it's real.
Along the way though he begins to empathise with the androids. Something he hasn't done before. He begins to see them as people who aspire to be free. This doesn't stop him from doing his job but it does confuse him. It makes him question why he is doing it. It also worries him slightly.
There is a section about half way through that was particularly exciting. Thanks to one of the androids, Deckard becomes so confused he begins to doubt even himself. I though at this point the book was going to take a whole new turn. It didn't really other than Deckard never really recovered himself no matter how he tried.
Empathy is another big part of the story. Empathy for animals and each other. Things that we do today are seen as horrific in this world such as eating lobster, hunting and eating animals such as dog (okay none of these things are my cup of tea but it's not the crime it is in Dick's world). I can't help but think this is part of the effects of the war and not just some way to show the difference between humans and androids. The war has clearly devastated the planet and very few people have stayed. In order to prevent another war people are made to show empathy.
This is the third or fourth Philip K. Dick book I've read and is so far the best. It's everything a classic sci fi should be. This was the book of the month for Ellie's Sci Fi challenge. I decided to go with it rather than reading my own because it was one I had planned on reading it for the challenge at some point. I'm glad I did as it made me realise how much I have missed the genre.
You can see what others are reading for the challenge here.