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?

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

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…

With the success of Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie, Blade Runner, the original 1968 book tacked on that main title to reissues. Both are populated by a futuristic metropolis in which automation has led to alienation. Is there a more defining strain sweeping our country than that of displaced workers who have lost their purpose in life? What do we lose when we try to perfect society through genetic engineering and globalized efficiency? In some ways, it doesn’t even matter if Rick Deckard is a human being or a replicant. Either way, he’s dead inside.

From Paul's list on dystopian visions.

Perhaps the most apposite, the novel that became the movie Blade Runner, in which Dick predicts the totalitarian mechanisation of society, where humans risk becoming androids. In the novel, we follow the story of detective Rick Deckard in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco as he tracks down runaway androids, deals with his Virtual Reality-addicted wife, and keeps up the pretence that his electric sheep is in fact real. The point Dick makes is that if we succumb to the totalitarian mechanization of our world, we risk becoming androids ourselves, reduced to “humans of mere use—men made into machines” (187). To…

From Richard's list on totalitarian novels.

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