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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired, Anxiety-Ridden Sci-Fi
After being an ardent Blade Runner fan for years, I decided to explore it's roots in Philip K. Dick's book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". The movie and the book had less in common than I'd expected, particularly with the character development. Unlike Blade Runner, there is nothing at all redeeming about the personalities of the replicants/ "andys" in this book,...
Published on June 23 2004 by Nadia555

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3.0 out of 5 stars Does Phil Dick Dream of Electric Scott?
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Millennium, 1968)
This short novel is best known these days as the basis of Ridley Scott's finest film, Bladerunner. The two are as different as night and day, but the two are roughly recognizable in places, in the same way some people will say "you look just like your father" to an adopted son. And since it's...
Published on Dec 26 2002 by Robert Beveridge


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired, Anxiety-Ridden Sci-Fi, June 23 2004
By 
Nadia555 (Sydney, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
After being an ardent Blade Runner fan for years, I decided to explore it's roots in Philip K. Dick's book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". The movie and the book had less in common than I'd expected, particularly with the character development. Unlike Blade Runner, there is nothing at all redeeming about the personalities of the replicants/ "andys" in this book, which has an even more chilling effect. There are, however, plenty of interesting ideas here, and depicting "authentic" animals as the ultimate status symbol is definitely intriguing. What interested me the most, were the marital issues between Deckard and his wife Iran. The love scene between Rachel and Deckard here is curiously shallow, adding to the isolated tone of the book.
Philip K. Dick is a good writer, effectively permeating the book with an unrelenting anxiety and cruel irony. PKD's ideas came to fruition in Blade Runner, but this is the blueprint, and therefore an absolute must for Blade Runner enthusiasts.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor and humanity, June 5 2004
By 
Doug Mackey (Fairfield, IA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
This novel, first published in 1968, was the basis for Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner (1982), which despite its striking, evocative visuals, plucks elements of the novel out of their context, making them somewhat less intelligible and less radical than in the original. Additionally, Dick's humor and his metaphysics are missing from the movie. The reader of the book is continually challenged to evaluate how human the androids are and how mechanical the humans are. The androids are not mere machines like most of the simulacra in Dick's other novels: they are artificial people made from organic materials; they have free will and emotions like fear and love. Physically and behaviorally they are indistinguishable from real people. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter whose job it is to hunt down and kill escaped androids. His life is thoroughly programmed; but in the course of the novel he starts to wake up to his buried human nature and capacity for empathy and understanding. This novel is the place to look for a serious analysis of the question of what it means to be human; you get only the tip of the iceberg of that issue in the movie. The book is one of Dick's best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revelation, Dec 4 2007
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
Having never read sci-fi, or seen the film, before, this novel was somewhat of a revelation to me. While I had trouble keeping track of the details, I loved the big ideas: interplanetary immigration, religion/cult, empathy boxes, the value of a real living animal...and of course the moral debate of whether bounty hunter Rick Deckard should retire (read: kill) androids simply because of what they are. My favourite character was Luba Luft; she's such a funny bugger. But perhaps the funniest thing was that the novel is set in 1992, but you can blame hindsight for my chuckles. While overall the novel was probably too intelligent for dim me to fully comprehend, I'm definitely interested in seeking out more sci-fi, particularly by this author. If you know of any books in particular you think I'll enjoy, please send the recommendations my way. This was fun!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idios to Koinos Kosmos: Attraction, Empathy, and Androids, March 1 2004
By 
Dorion Sagan (East Coast, USA and Toronto) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
This book, known for its tie-in to the SF blockbuster film Bladerunner, is a distinct beast. One of Dick's best, most fully developed, and imagined novels, it takes place on a radioactive wasteland-Earth in the not-so-distant future, after a war that killed virtually all animals (whose prices, even when no specimens are available, are kept in auction guide-like catalogues called Sidney's Animal and Fowl), and necessitated lead codpieces to protect the human germ line in the minority not turned into "specials"-radioactive rejects such as one of the book's two male protagonists, Jack Isodore. The main, tough male character is Rick Deckard, a married bounty hunter who steps up to the plate after his senior colleague is killed in the line of fire. One thing that I don't think comes through in the film, but which is a major focal point of the book, is the metaphorical, metaphysical status of the weak, the feminine, the loving-emotional-animal axis so central to our mammalian human being. As always in Dick, it helps to look beyond the action to the philosophical or metaphysical verities that are being expertly explored through the condensed tool of his nonpareil fiction. Here it occurs to me that the "being-a-man" coolness (i.e., emotionlessness) of the prototypical-and ideal-1950s male is here what is being taken to task. In non SF pulp forerunners to a book like Androids-in the works of Raymond Chandler and his hardboiled ilk, that is to say, in detective fiction-the desirable femme fatale is resisted as the detective (the "private dick," as the slang goes) solves the crime. In Androids-which is a kind of metaphysical detective story-the Deckard character makes a mistake of falling for Rachel Rosen, an attractive young female with attractive small "Irish" buttocks, large grown up-woman eyes, and a Jewish last name. She at first appears to be the daughter of the head of The Rosen Association, a rich corporation at the forefront of extraterrestrial android manufacture. The Voigt-Kampff test, however-a sort of polygraph that asks pointed questions trying to stir human-style empathy, such as what would one think about a couch made of human hide-reveals that she is a Nexus 6, the most advanced type of organic robot. It is interesting both that Rosen is given a Jewish name and that the Voigt-Kampff test is thought in the book to be ineffective in detecting certain schizophrenic patients. For Dick's true topic is not technology and hovercar chases but empathy. With his bounty money Deckard replaces his electric sheep with a real goat, bought from the Rosen Association at considerable expense. This is a huge status symbol. The book opens with a marital dispute over a Penfield Mood Organ, a device that can program emotions, even rather exotic ones such as 481, "awareness of the manifold possibilities of the future," 888, "the desire to watch TV, no matter what's on it," and 594, "pleased acknowledgment of a husband's superiority in all matters." Moreover, the main religious figure, and the number two personality on the planet after TV celebrity Buster Friendly, is Mercer, an old man whose experience of climbing up a rocky hill while stones are thrown at him can be accessed by anyone with an "empathy box"-a black box with two handles that somehow conveys not only the experience of being with Mercer, but his actual wounds as he makes his Christlike trek. When Deckard must wrangle with his mission-to kill other AWOL Nexus-6 andys, some of them females with the same alluring form of Rachel Rosen, with whom the bounty hunter makes the plunge-the reader is forced to contemplate what it is that truly ties him to others, what makes him better (or not) than an animal, a what-who-by turns insures and interrupts his essential loneliness. He is a detective on a mission to kill that which he loves-a difficult proposition, and one that all life in principle faces. The woman, the goat, the sexy android, his wife, the escaped androids, and even a spider with its legs being torn off all provide the opportunity for reflection on the status of life's common unity, and its ability to recognize itself in itself. Near the book's end Deckard finds a toad-it may be the last one on Earth-and brings it home to his wife, who discovers it is electric. Of course, we too are, in a sense, electric, although our maker(s) are not corporations we can locate by browsing through the Yellow Pages. As biologist Jean Rostand wrote, "Biologists come and go. The frog remains." The beauty and sadness of Dick's world is he presents us with a believable scenario in which the frog is gone. Metaphysics disguised as science fiction: a meditation on loneliness, solipsism, and empathic connection in a vast universe where, ultimately, we must take on faith that the idea of what the Greeks called a Koinos Kosmos (shared universe) when all we can feel directly is our own, individual, Idios Kosmos (private universe). The Hebresque paramour, Rachel Rosen, is the killable other, identified as such by signs so subtle, we might, as any private dick knows, be guilty of displaying them ourselves. When you consider that the trait sought for that separates the android organic machine from the "real" human is precisely the capacity to empathize, you realize that this is a major work by a master.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic dreaming towards a futuristic day, June 21 2004
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? is another classic science fiction novel that I only just got around to reading. And once again, I find myself wishing that I'd gotten around to reading it earlier. It was also my introduction to the writings of Philip K. Dick, and I also wish I had started exploring his output before now. This novel demonstrates what science fiction can do at its best. It tells an absorbing, thrilling story, but it also works on other levels.
The book's protagonist is named Rick Deckard, and he's a police officer in a post-apocalyptic future whose job is to track down and destroy rouge androids. Although this is clearly a science fiction work, I felt a strong flavor of noir creeping throughout the sections dealing with Deckard's career. The trappings of the fantastic are present, but they're presented in a clearly thriller-type way. Deckard may be a cop from the future, yet he owes a lot of his characterization to the hardboiled, fictional detectives who came before him. This makes him an extremely entertaining character, as well as an immediately sympathetic one.
As has been noted, this novel is doing a little more than just telling another adventure story (although it does a great job at that). While the themes of alienation and isolation and what it means to be a conscious, reasoning entity are well-developed and much discussed by readers, several other metaphors are also lurking beneath the surface. This is a book very much influenced by its time (it was published 1968), but pieces of it seem almost timeless (the war which nearly destroys the world is caused by a right-wing policy group wielding too much influence at the Pentagon; boy, does that sound familiar). The psychological testing done on the subjects to determine their identity (either human or robot) reminded me strongly of the infamous McCarthy hearings.
I was very impressed by the actual writing itself in this novel. Dick's prose is very strong. Science fiction writers often enjoy building up a new world/universe at the expense of characterization or plot, but that isn't the case here. He excels at painting a bleak future, taking the attitudes of today and projecting them into a world with few people and fewer animals. But he doesn't let this overwhelm the book. It's a hard balance to maintain, yet he manages it well. His satire is exactly what it should be: both hilarious and cuttingly accurate.
Philip K. Dick is a writer that I've heard a lot of good things about, and I'm looking forward to diving deeper into his back catalog. DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? impressed me in both its straightforward narrative and in the deeper topics that it touches on. The "social commentary" aspect of the novel, which can be painful in books by lesser authors, is actually one of the book's best features. There are a few sloppy points (the mechanical capabilities of the androids are a bit vaguely defined, and once or twice characters talk to themselves for no reason other than to convey plot-points to the audience), but overall I was a very happy reader.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent, thought-provoking masterpiece of sci-fi, Feb. 25 2004
By 
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
In 2021, after World War Terminus, life on Earth has changed forever. Those who were not killed either emigrated to other planets or chose to remain on a tainted planet. With most species of animals dead, live specimens are prized possessions, and for those who can't afford a live animal, companies build artificial ones. Some even build artificial humans.
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, sent to find and to retire rogue androids, or "andys," who manage to find their way back to Earth. The government has banned them, fearful of what they might do, especially since they blend in so well with regular humans. But, the more contact that Rick has with the Nexus-6 android Rachel, the more he begins to question what life is. Can an artificial life form have empathy? What happens when a human starts to have empathy for an artificial life form?
Philip K. Dick's masterful novel deals with these issues in a fast-paced, realistic environment. All the characters are finely drawn, especially the andys, and the intelligent story keeps your attention. I also found it relevant with what's going on in the world today. It's one of those novels that I just couldn't put down. A superb sci-fi novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Seen the movie? You'd better read the book too!, Jan. 17 2004
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
This 1967 novel inspired the classic movie _Blade Runner_, and it remains Dick's most popular book because of that association. But because the movie altered so much of the original, the book has a vibrant life away from it...and it's an incredible achievement.
Bounty hunter Rick Deckard (married in the book version) goes on the search for the Nexus-6 androids loose on a nearly abandoned Earth where wildlife has come close to extinction. Dick explains the background much more thoroughly than the movie, and places special emphasis on the absence of genuine animals on Earth; Deckard's desire to possess a real animal instead of a robot copy becomes the focal point of his struggle to define his own humanity. John Isidore, a mentally deficient "chickenhead" who falls in with the androids (never called 'replicants' as in the film), is the other symbolic half of this confrontation with what it means to be human; the movie would change him into William Sanderson's diseased inventor. Throughout, Dick uses his piquant humor and dead-on satire to enthrall the reader.
A classic SF novel, no arguing about it, and it lead to a classic, if extremely different, SF film. A fascinating read. Even if you claim to dislike science fiction, you need to pick this one up. It may change your opinion of the whole genre. (And make you want to read more Philip K. Dick --there's a lot more great stuff out there!)
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4.0 out of 5 stars a 2003 take on this, Dec 27 2003
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
the way I see it - this book is particularly relevant to today because it deals with isolation, loneliness and the mechanistic world v. the frail imperfect human world. To share my ideas on this book I am interacting via a computer; I live a pretty isolated life which main connection to the world is via the web, or through internet. So to a large extent I, myself, have become an extension of the web - a biological peripheral if you like. Anyway - getting back to this book - as far as I am concerned it makes us ask how we descriminate between 'real' people and the new 'plastic' people who are programmed by big business to perform regimented tasks and will have their genes modified to remove unwanted characteristics - the human will be turning himself into a replicant in pursuit of perfection - eugenics is a powerful ethos and with the right genetic technology you can basically chose the characteristics you want - as you would if you were ordering a replicant.
So, unlike many readers - I see this book in a very much the eugenic real versus artificial tension that occupys a region of philosophy I guess.
The only thing I agree with the other reviewers is the fact that the book bears no relation to the fillum. [also as well as the book, I find the vangelis soundtrack better than the film]
read it - it is mind-altering
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5.0 out of 5 stars Asks important questions, Dec 17 2003
By 
Dr Tathata (Omphalos, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
By now, most people are familiar with the book because of the movie, Blade Runner, which frankly fails to capture those qualities that make the book special. Let's face it, Dick was a hack writer, but a fascinating philosopher. I personally, read Dick for his boundlessly thought provoking ideas. In Androids Dream, he is principally concerned with the questions:
If the ability of humans to manipulate logic can be modelled in machines, and machines are extensions of human intelligence, then what does it mean to be human? Can there be Artificial Intelligence? If so, can it be distinguished from Natural Intelligence? How so?
Obviously, Dick believes the difference is empathy, a notion that derived from an early childhood experience of his own. He was torturing a beetle, and observing the beetles struggles to survive, when he had a full blown satori--that he and the beetle were the same, they were alike in their striving for existance and their avoidance of pain. It was a life changing moment, he later would claim, and that theme is a the heart of this novel, and is reminiscient of Blakes poem, "The Fly". But his point goes deeper than this. He seems to want us to think about how we humans can lose our humanity and behave as if we have become machine-like. If we sacrifice our free will, our creativity, our ability to say yes, or no, independently; if we sacrifice our conscience--and blindly commit ourself to be governed by a set of external rules--then we have become computer programs, not human beings. And he seems to imply that this is how places like Auschwitz came to exist, built by human beings who had become machines that are exceptionally good at following orders. Around the world, we have political machines, economic machines, marketing machines, martial machines. In Cambodia, a political and miliary machine consisting mostly of children forced millions of people from the homes into the fields to be mowed down like so many insects.
The points that Dick makes are important--extrememly important, to an authentic human being who has not sacrificed their humanity or abdicated their sense of responsibility to a set of rules. But his particular genius lies in his ability to paint different, contradictory views and interpretations of the same reality. This ability conveys a peculiar paranoid sense of reality that is as eerie as it is profound. It gives a strong sense of what it must feel like to experience a psychotic break with reality. That may be a strange roller coaster ride, but it helps to create a sense of empathy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only an inspiration to Blade Runner; this book stands alone, Dec 16 2003
By 
J R Zullo (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)
If you have watched "Blade Runner" before reading PKD's story (like I did), you'll find they are very different indeed. "Do androids...?" is the inspiration behind Ridley Scott's movie, but this book has its rightfull place within the realms of good science fiction.
While the movie is very graphic, visual and dark (all those rainy nights and opulent clothing), the book seems like a mind-breaking experience. In fact, to fully understand the many layers contained between the lines, one reading is not enough. The novel itself is not that much graphic. Dick rarely describes settings, people, buildings, etc., leaving the reader's immagination to work full-time. In fact, is this science fiction? Yes, I think it is, not because of the science involved, but because of the revolutionary elements present in the story.
This is mental sci-fi; the main question of the book is: what defines a human being? Rick Deckard has to answer this question every time he retires a Nexus-6, all the time taking care not to loose his bearings of what he thinks a human being should be. This kind of complexity is what makes "Do androids...?" a great read, although I thought Dick's style a little too dry for my personal taste.
Grade 8.2/10
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - May 28 1996)
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