Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Book description

As the eagerly-anticipated new film Blade Runner 2049 finally comes to the screen, rediscover the world of Blade Runner . . .

World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he…

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Why read it?

12 authors picked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

For me speculative fiction is about twisting one aspect of the real world, and then playing with the consequences. I love the way that Philip K Dick does this.

Some of his ideas seem absurd, but as a reader you quickly buy into them. This is not a traditional crime novel in any sense, but is about a bounty hunter tracking down escaped androids. As he confronts questions about his own humanity, it raises ethical issues for the reader as to what it is to be human.

Like all Dick’s works it is clever, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

From Guy's list on speculative crime.

I read this book out of curiosity after deep disappointment with Bladerunner, the film it inspired, and was delighted to discover it is so much better! Dick paints a convincing picture of machines that are superficially human but completely lacking empathy and any sense of responsibility for their actions. And of a hero just too human to get the better of them. Dick avoids drawing the parallels between robot use and slavery which I always find unhelpful to debate on the ethics of AI; instead, he gives us a glimpse into the minds of manufacturers of ethically questionable products,…

The book upon which the movie Bladerunner was based, World War Terminus has devastated Earth, leaving the populace to either cope with the nuclear fall-out, or escape to off-world colonies. In an ironic twist of fate, Deckard, a bounty hunter, is forced to remain behind, in order to destroy rogue androids who have escaped to earth—or replicants, as they’re sometimes called. Deckard, goes about his business like an unflappable cop on duty, until he winds up falling in love with an android named Rachel, and begins to understand that there is no true distinction between the Nexus-6 Androids or human…

I prefer stories that are about life rather than about things that happen in life. PKD’s books are exactly that. Hollywood omitted the humour, spirituality, and craziness in their adaptations of his work and often inverted his meaning entirely; the books are so much better and far more radical. If you want literature that expands the mind try a PKD book, or at least an exact replica of one.

While I’m typically not prone to read much fiction, I must insist that this novel is a must-read for anyone looking at how our society is evolving. First published in 1968, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (the basis for the film, Blade Runner) explores our relationship with one another, animals and machines. Dick invented a test called Voigt-Kampff that was designed to discriminate the human being from the replicant, notably by detecting involuntary empathic responses. Empathy is a core concept in the book, becoming one of the fundaments of the human being in a robot-run world. As Dick…

Most will recognize this book from the title of the film adaptation: BladeRunner. Still, there’s something to be said for the originality of Dick’s title; specifically, it telegraphs to the reader that they should expect questions to ponder and their thoughts provoked. 

In my view, writers are teachers, and I love that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is never pedantic, but, rather, it’s didactic instead. It poses questions that will make the readers question the notion of a robot or android as sentient or not, without insisting that the book knows the definitive answer. Dick is wise enough…

The fact that this book was the basis for Blade Runner—my favorite sci-fi movie ever and the gold standard for post-apocalyptic cityscapes—is more than enough to recommend it. Like the movie, it has the DNA of a detective novel, with a bounty hunter hired to kill a rogue group of human-like androids, but it’s also a fascinating exploration of identity, reality, and what it means to be human.

Philip K. Dick’s famous dystopian science fiction novel is a thought-provoking, era-defining story, and the novel that facilitated the birth of Neon Science-Fiction the most. Retitled as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the book’s dichotomous setting – both neon-shiny and depressingly bleak – has hugely inspired my work on my book. I remember reading about the new line of Nexus-6 androids and asking myself questions about the nature of consciousness.“What does it mean to be truly alive?”I remember my inner child squealing with joy when Deckard picked up that electric toad and decided synthetic creatures are just…

From Louise's list on inspired neon science fiction.

Philip K. Dick just plain entertains me with his frank oddness. He plunks his baffled characters down in impossible, absurd situations and watches as they endure, and inevitably maintain, whatever dystopia he’s created for them. This is a novel whose premise inspired the Blade Runner action-movie franchise with a sexy-noir Harrison Ford filling in as a Hollywood hero. But the android-hunting protagonist on the page is a pathetic nebbish of a man, struggling in marriage, failing at work, and making lazy attempts to find a way to something better.

In spite of all of this, Dick always maintains a sense…

From David's list on dystopian novels about the underdog.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is the novel behind the 1982 film Bladerunner, is the quintessential AI novel because it presents two of the major dilemmas presented by advanced artificial intelligence: 1) If an AI is as smart as a human, how do humans control it? 2) If an AI can think like a human, should it be regarded as a fellow living being? The beauty of the novel is that it presents these issues from the point of view of a human being, Rick Deckard, who has to make decisions about whether to allow the android…

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