5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to me, really good read
Really interesting, thought provoking read. It frames nicely some of the questions we are starting to deal with with artificial intelligence. At what point does a computer program become a person? With legal standing? I have an iPhone, is Siri a person? I don't think so, yet, but as the programming develops, and processing power expands...
Published 1 month ago by Bradley Gould
3.0 out of 5 stars Seen Blade Runner?
If you have seen Blade Runner don't worry about it spoiling the ending, completely different messages. Everything of Dick's I have read have been wild, inventive, and extremely interesting. I would recomend trying to completely forget Blade Runner (or vice versa) while reading this book, only the names and a few constructions are the same. I actually preferred Blade...
Published on Mar 13 2003
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5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to me, really good read,
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This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)Really interesting, thought provoking read. It frames nicely some of the questions we are starting to deal with with artificial intelligence. At what point does a computer program become a person? With legal standing? I have an iPhone, is Siri a person? I don't think so, yet, but as the programming develops, and processing power expands...
This book addresses some of the same issues as Ray Kurzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines"
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspired, Anxiety-Ridden Sci-Fi,
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humor and humanity,
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revelation,
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!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Idios to Koinos Kosmos: Attraction, Empathy, and Androids,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Blade runner,
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)This book which has been adapted in theatres under the name blade runner is a great Sci-Fi book that reaches philosophical levels.
Are dreams and desire reserved to humans?
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction, Suspense and Philosophy,
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)I became a rabid fan of Philip K. Dick from the first novel of his that I read. All of his books are excellent, and this one ranks as one of the best. Unlike a lot of sci-fi writers Dick's background is in philosophy which was his major as student at UCLA Berkeley. The plot of this book is well-known from the moviet:he human race in tatters, the natural world is slipping away, androids escape to earth and bounty hunters track them down to eliminate them. The book brings up some interesting questions. Are humans becoming more like machines or machines becoming more like humans? As machines become more human-like do their rights as living creatures increase? Does technology bring us closer to creating life or destroying it? The great thing about Dick books are that the questions they stir in us are endless. From an entertainment point of view this one provides fast dialogue, constant surprises and a perspective like none other.
4.0 out of 5 stars Apocalyptic dreaming towards a futuristic day,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty cut and dry,
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)It is a futuristic story, set in a distopian society where, since the fallout of world war III, humanity has managed to set off to colonize other planets. The main plot of the book is that a bounty hunter (Rick Deckard) is searching for rogue androids who have made their way back from the colony on Mars after killing their owners. Pretty cut and dry - in fact, the movie Blade Runner was based on the book. But as far as science fiction, this is where the story departs - using the future as merely a background for commentary on the meaning of existence, the possibility of overt manipulation of the psyche due to outside sources, and the omnipresent oppression "the power" has over everyone. A very good read, if for nothing more the commentary on what separates us from robots. Definitely a book I highly recommend.
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool Cyberpunk before Cyber was Cool,
This review is from: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Paperback)A lot of people credit Gibson for the cyberpunk genre. However, you'll find many of the themes right here: alienation, our relationship to machine intelligence, the fusion of worldwide cultures, the noir-world of moral relativism.
This is the story that the film Bladerunner (excellent in its own right) was based on. However, it is important to realize that the film was very loosely based on it; there is one scene in the book that is virtually identical to the film, but beyond that it is quite different.
Unfortunately, I find that Dick can really meander towards the end of his longer works (unlike his tightly plotted short stories). Thus, I can only give it four stars. Nevertheless it is a timeless classic that will be of interest to anyone interested in what the future of man-machine interactions might hold.
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (Paperback - May 28 1996)
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