It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill.
Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignmet--find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!
What people are saying - Write a review
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Philip K. Dick’s insight into the world he lived in allowed him to masterfully create a realistic prediction of what sort of place the world could become if the social tendencies of his era were maintained and developed over decades. In “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” he predicts, though indirectly, such cultural impacts as social networks, radical increases in consumerism, dependence on technology, and even the importance of façade, which is really the culmination of the aforementioned things. Consumerism has always driven our economy, but these days it drives our very existence. Essentially everything we could ever want is available to us through the internet and often can be delivered right to our doors without us having to get out of bed. This capability has skyrocketed the materialistic consumption of unnecessary goods. The media also encourages ever increasing consumption as well by manipulating our emotions, convincing us that not only do we need certain products, but they are available without us having to do more than click our mouse. We are also convinced that if we do not have these things that we are being told we need, then we are inferior to those who do. Thus, we have adapted our lifestyle in a way that people who do not have the means to obtain the actual thing can simulate it: economically, we can simulate wealth by charging all of our purchases to a credit card; socially, we can create a Facebook page where we can add as many friends and pictures as we want without hem being an accurate representation of our actual character, and, of course, if there is something expensive that we are told to want but can’t afford, we can always find a cheaper version somewhere that we can pretend is genuine. This new lifestyle, where almost everything we do is part of a façade, is something that Dick obviously saw beginning to take root in the society of which he was a part, because he depicts it with such accuracy in DADES. The most obvious reference to this “façade” lifestyle is apparent in Deckard (and most people’s) obsession with owning an animal. Deckard himself cannot afford a real animal, so he and his wife purchase a cheaper, electronic one that they pretend is real. This pretense is clearly a thorn in Deckard’s side throughout the novel, since his desire to own a real one seems to motivate most of his endeavors. When he finally has the means to purchase a real goat, he does so with great pride and he enjoys a short-lived feeling of self-worth until Rachel kills the goat, knowing it was the one thing that would hurt him the most. The other obvious example of a façade is the human one that the androids put on so as to conceal their true identity as androids. These humanoids put on as much of a façade as actual humans do, but they are hunted by humans because of their charade. They have everything else that humans do, including memories, thoughts, emotions, and ideas, and we learn that they even have empathy for other androids – something they were not believed to possess at all. The only real difference is that these things are all produced mechanically, not naturally as in real humans, and it is because of this relatively small discrepancy that they are hunted. However, the same is true of all of the electric animals, which, though they appear real, have the same fundamental difference of simply being mechanical as the androids. There is noticeable irony which irises from both of these points, and it can be assumed that it is through this irony that Dick comments on the negative turns society had taken when the book was written. The irony lies within the importance of electric animals to the people contrasted with the fear with which they regard electric humans, which are essentially the same as the electric animals but with more intellectual capabilities. This irony emphasizes the nature of our culture that makes us embrace technology that makes our life better, but reject technology that could potentially outstrip us and cause us to lose our iron grip on almost every...
LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Although “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is filled with various themes and symbols, the recurring theme of materialism is one that stands out in the novel. With materialism playing a major role in the story, we see resulting elements such as greed and superficiality. In Philip K. Dick’s post-apocalyptic world, humans have an infatuation with buying and collecting goods, not too different from our consumer-based society today. In this society, life has become a commodity, and owning a real animal has just become another way to show off economic status, just like owning an expensive car or a large house. Mankind’s perception of life has also been twisted around, with people aiming to own the most animals or the best animal. The main character Rick Deckard even has a desire to own an animal like his neighbor’s horse. This desire to own life appears to have become part of the “American Dream” in Dick’s society. However, it has become so difficult for us to tell artificial and authentic life apart that there is a profession dedicated to picking out the androids from the humans. Deckard is tasked with administering an empathy test to distinguish escaped androids apart from humans. He then “retires” or kills them to collect a reward, putting a price on “life.” Even if they are lifeless androids, the only thing that sets the humans apart from the androids is their capacity to empathize. At one point in the novel, one of the characters, John Isidore, mistakes an electric cat for a real cat, showing that it has become difficult for humans to tell the fake from the real. The term “kipple,” which is the accumulation of useless junk that consumes everything around it, is also introduced in the novel. Some of the distinguishing factors of kipple are that it is composed of things unnecessary to life and it “destroys non-kipple.” One impressive aspect of the novel is that it was written in the 1960’s, yet it seems more relevant than ever. When the idea of kipple is exhibited in Stratton’s apartment, the image of a room filled with various useless goods from Wal-Mart came to mind. Although it is obvious the author is commenting on the greedy and materialistic nature of man, his story should be treated more as a warning than a prediction of the future. To prove his point, the author found it necessary to take the story to the extreme and set it in a post apocalyptic society to fully display the postmodern condition. However, the novel does end on a light note. Deckard finds a toad which he believes to be real, but later on learns that it is electric. Nevertheless he still cares for the toad and buys electric flies for it, showing that humans will always have the capacity to empathize, even if it is with something artificial. This demonstrates that man has not completely lost touch with himself, though at the same time, it shows our acceptance towards the artificial. There are many factors to consider when we think of the causes of the postmodern condition. However, there seems to be a focus on the artificial and the material aspects of society that causes us to lose touch with ourselves as emotional creatures. Today, we seem to love our new “iPad” more than our childhood pet, and according to Deckard, this is a very dangerous path for us to follow. The take home message I received from reading the novel is that in order to avoid this path, we have to learn to do things in moderation rather than wanting and buying everything in sight.