13 December 2009

Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Title:  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Author:  Philip K. Dick
Published: 1968  Pages:  216
Genre: Science Fiction

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, responsible for tracking down and killing any android that has managed to escape and return to Earth. His current assignment involves eight androids who emigrated from Mars.  He knows his job, but androids have become almost too human.

My Thoughts
This was one strange book.  For the first 50 pages or so I had a very difficult time getting in to the story.  I was quite unsure of what was going on, feeling as if I had been unceremoniously dropped down in the middle of a strange world where I barely spoke the language.  Then for the next 50 pages, I found myself focusing on the similarities and differences between what I was reading and what I saw in the film Bladerunner.  I wish I would have read the book before watching the movie, but alas, no luck.  Because of this, I've decided to organize my thoughts around comparing the two versions of this story.

Book to Movie
The film Bladerunner is based upon this novel, and while the similarities are there, the two stories are markedly different. In both, Rick Deckard is an android bounty hunter, Rachel Rosen is an unusually human non-human, and Earth is a post-apocalyptic mess.  That is where the stories massively diverge.  One of, if not the, main theme in the novel is absent from the film version: the empathic ability of humans as evidenced by their feelings for animals and their desire to identify with other humans.

In the novel, human beings are obsessed with animals, owning and caring for them in an extremely maternal fashion; their self-worth is in part based on the size of their animal and is very much tied in to whether they can own a real animal or an electric one.  Also, humans are involved in a pseudo-religious activity where they plug in to a virtual reality where they emotionally connect to the other humans who are simultaneously plugged in.  These two characteristics of the human population are integrally tied to Deckard's journey of self-discovery in the novel, but both are absent - and in effect Deckard's evolution - from the film.

I won't say, however, that I think the film needed these things.  The film is fundamentally different from the book in that its purpose was action and entertainment, not philosophical questioning.  I enjoyed both the book and the movie, but for very different reasons.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Stainless Steel DroppingsOlduvai Reads;   somewhere i have never travelled

Question:  Is there any book title better than this one? I mean, seriously; what an awesome title!


Challenges: Sci-Fi Challenge42 ChallengeRead the Book See the Movie, Take Another Chance,


  1. I love your review of this book, especially the comparison between the novel and Blade Runner. You have me intrigued.

  2. Laughing Stars - I'm glad I could intrigue you; that's such a wonderful word, isn't it?

  3. These two really are very different aren't they. I recently watched one of those dvd extras on Bladerunner, apparently Philip Dick thought the movie was great. He said it was exactly his vision of what the future would look like.

    I stopped by to let you know that you won a prize for the Book/Movie challenge. Here's a link that explains how you can get the little prize.



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