Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another swimming pool read: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

The inspiration for Blade Runner. The movie Philip K. Dick, the author, just missed the release of. A movie I haven't seen up to this day, but now I have read the novel and I'm quite sure the movie never can match it, no matter how much of an icon it is.

In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? we follow Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter to eliminate or 'retire' androids that have escaped from their owners, usually with them killing a few humans.
In this future, earth has been devastated by another World War, named Terminus and when the radioactive dust came to claim most of life on earth, people began to emigrate to other planets. Androids were then made to be of assistance to the people who went 'abroad'.

The novel starts out with Rick Deckard starting a day at work, although you already get a good glimpse of what a barren wasteland earth has become. There are no life wild animals left and for families it's almost required to care for at least one live animal, which cost quite a lot of money. Rick used to have a real sheep, but then it died and since he didn't have the money to buy a new animal, he replaced it with an electrical copy.
Also, moods can be altered in this dystopian view of the future. Rick and his wife own a Penfield unit which can make them feel however they want to be able to cope with another day on earth.

When Rick finally gets to his work, he hears that a fellow bounty hunter has been shot by an android and he has to finish the assignment.
Eight androids have escaped from Mars and he still has to retire 6 of them.
Because the androids are of the latest version made by the Rosen association, with an advanced intelligence, he first needs to verify that the testing equipment still is up to date.

All this is the premise to a very exciting story about human nature.
The main difference between humans and androids is empathy. We humans, are full of it, anyway most of us are. Androids don't have that capacity.
Rick is trying to get a hold of them, seeing if they are cold enough in their motives to be considered an android, while he struggles with his own issues. He becomes afraid he might have developed empathy for the androids, where he has always seen them as objects he needed to stop. While he reflects where that leaves him, trying to come clean with the religion of that day and age which is called Mercerism and is based on sharing your struggle and feelings with everyone around you, basically an empathic religion, the androids themselves have some devastating secrets to announce as well.

All in all a very well written novel that I enjoyed very much. Science fiction as it should be.