Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick is a thought-provoking ride through a ruined future world. The depression of his characters and the reality that they dwell within is palpable throughout the entire book. My only major complaint is how thick the symbolism in the book is, despite all the symbolism the messages and themes of the book remain blurred and obtuse. I wouldn’t call this book a must read, but I would call it a should read. If you enjoy thought-provoking dystopian science fiction, I’d say it’s a safe bet that you’d enjoy Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
I’m not a very big fan of the book’s cover art. It strikes me as confused, faded, and weak. Having read the book I can appreciate that the cover art is trying to blur the lines between human and android, highlighting the similarities and the separation through the image of Deckard’s sheep. Unfortunately though, it’s a cover’s job to act as part of the initial hook, luring the reader in, not show me an image that is vaguely representative of the themes and symbols used within the book.
- Dick does a fantastic job writing his characters and their interactions. You can feel the hopeless confusion that surrounds Deckard for the majority of the book. The childish curiosity, devoid of empathy for other things outside the self, hangs around his android characters like a thick aura. And even though her appearances in the book are quite limited and brief, I found Deckard’s wife, Iran, to be very interesting.
- The setting is written excellently. Earth, now blanketed in a thick coat of radioactive dust, is all but uninhabitable. This dying Earth mirrors the sentiment and the mood of the humans and androids that live on it, and works excellently along side the story and characters to enhance the book as a whole.
- The story remains interesting throughout. I remained engaged the entire time I was reading and can’t recall any instances skipping parts in the book due to considering them boring or unnecessary.
- The book is so heavy with symbolism and themes that, for me at least, they became confused and muddled within each other. Near the ending of the book I was no longer sure what messages and symbols were supposed to stand out and define the story, or if I had even interpreted the messages and symbols used correctly.
- Dick’s exposition in regards to the philosophies that are thematic within the book can become slightly confused ramblings that required an extra read or two to fully appreciate them. Granted, I really did appreciate them after the second read through, but they were somewhat confusing.
After a horrible nuclear war leaves the Earth nearly uninhabitable, the remaining parts of the collective Earth government terraform Mars. In an effort to get people to relocate, they offer up realistic humanoid androids to act as slaves, making the lives of those on Mars easier. However, not all of these androids are happy to live out their short lives in such a limited capacity. Some of them kill their masters and flee back to Earth.
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter leading a hollow and confused life on Earth. His job is to hunt down and ‘retire’ renegade androids. One night his department’s senior bounty hunter, Dave Holden, is injured while pursuing one of the newest and most dangerous models. Deckard is now suddenly in charge of hunting down the remaining six Nexus-6 androids. The next twenty four hours of Deckard’s life may be the most eventful and important hours of his life. Androids will be retired, moral foundations will quake, and the line between organic and synthetic will be blurred.