Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep: Book Review

Title: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep / Blade Runner
Author: Philip K. Dick
Year Published: 1968

Reading Level: Diary of a Wimpy Kid ——————X—–Moby Dick

Recommendation:

Personally, I’m a huge fan, but I get that PKD is not for everyone. His writing is clear and smooth (easier to read than, say, Ray Bradbury), but his ideas can be dense and his plots often seem to wander. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is basically a classic detective story in terms of plot, but it has a sci-fi setting and it raises some deep questions about what it means to be human.

What’s it about?

This book was originally titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Then when legendary film director Ridley Scott adapted the novel into the film Blade Runner, the novel’s name changed because the film was such a huge success. The film and the novel have many of the same characters and a similar plot, but they are significantly different.

The Earth is a mess after nuclear war, so people colonize other planets, using replicants (androids that appear human) as slave labor. Whenever a replicant escapes and comes to Earth, bounty hunters like Rick Deckard have to track them down and retire (kill) them. The Nexus 6 models, are almost indistinguishable from humans. Rick has to identify and retire a group of them. But these replicants seem so human. Rick finds this job especially challenging. Not only does Rick have to make sure he is actually retiring a replicant and not accidentally murdering a human, the replicants don’t want to die and they are willing to kill Rick to protect themselves. When Rick crosses paths with Rachael, she makes him rethink everything he knows about replicants.

Special Features:

  • Futuristic Technology
  • Oddball humor
  • Detective story in a science fiction setting
  • Artificial Intelligence

Themes / Big Ideas:

  • What does it mean to be a human being?
  • How important are emotions such as love and empathy?
  • How do people decide to do the right thing if the right thing isn’t clear?
  • What makes something alive?
  • Is destroying an intelligent machine the same as killing a human?

Tonio Favetta is the author of Falling From the Ground, a Y/A SciFi adventure. He also teaches high school English.

Posted in Book Reviews and Recommendations

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