Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Finished reading on October 21st, 2017
I always had the idea that somewhere in this book there would be someone counting sheep in their mind to fall asleep and wondering whether androids would be doing the same with electric sheep…. Well, I was wrong…
This book is not my usual kind of fiction book to read for several reasons – first if I read sci-fi it the book’s plot should better take place on a different planet or a moon, secondly isn’t it just a bit too mainstream?
I’m not going to get into the synopsis of the book, because that can be found anywhere else…
So my thought on this book: I’m glad it’s over. The end.
I do feel like this book took me for a trip outside of my comfort-zone, which isn’t all that bad in itself.
*Androids as personal servants. Ok, why not. Though why not have them do everything else too? Humans are lazy, programmable robots however can be much more efficient, even in giving orders I’d think, so androids escaping humans sounds logical.
What doesn’t sound logical is having androids of two genders (as far as the book is concerned). Why? If you’d make them indistinguishable from humans, then you shouldn’t be surprised if they behave like humans. But that doesn’t sound effective – my question/idea arose from reading the part where Pris is encouraged to move to Isidore’s apartment where he could take care of her. That’s confusing. They’re capable of pretty much everything but a good cover for an android is living with a “chickenhead”? I wonder whether that’s for compatibility or some other reason that androids have genders…so that humans could relate to them better?
Now electric animals instead of real ones because a lot of species have gone extinct, very few survive and having an animal has become a status symbol – that’s an interesting idea. I remember as a kid wanting a remote-controlled dog when I couldn’t get a real dog, so it makes some sense. But it’s curious that androids aren’t considered as electric humans and as someone you should take care of and keep as pets, but rather as servants. So the latter serve a purpose, the former are merely symbolic and fake at that too. But I guess it’s more the culture – you have to have an animal or you’d be seen as odd, kind of like someone who doesn’t watch TV….
There were two things which I found most disturbing, should those ever come to life. First is fake memories. It’s been used elsewhere too ofcourse. But it’s just creepy.
Second is empathy boxes and Mercerism. So you take hold of the handles and feel what someone else is feeling and others can feel how you feel (kind of like the point-of-view gun in Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide, only it works both ways). Maybe I’m just (trying too or really am) not that emphatic so I would hate to feel someone else’s feelings and moods – partly because I feel it’s an invasion of their privacy even if they’re doing it willingly and secondly it’s making you feel different. However now think of what reading fiction does….. Aren’t they just empathy boxes with pages instead of handles? That’s a disturbing thought. Which is also why I find that any book recommendations should be really well-considered and thought-out. (At least when I’ve read a book on someone’s recommendation I still always connect them to that book…) But why should everything be shared?
Then just something I noticed – in case of names of people etc that I haven’t come across too much, or not at all, I find it difficult to assign a different meaning or character to it, so in my mind Mercer is connected to the Mercer in Eggers’ Circle and the Rosens are connected to Dr. Rosen from A Beautiful Mind….
And now for the last thing – mood organs are probably the most interesting bit of technology that is in that book. The ability to just dial a different mood and schedule your moods in advance -that’s quite intriguing. If such a thing existed, would I use it? On the one hand it goes against my idea of what a mood is and that would just be a setting… and I’d prefer to not have my moods changed even just by me… On the other hand I see how it might make some things easier – for example set it on a sociable mood and you’re willing to talk to people or a learning mood for those early morning lectures…
In my mind the most disturbing part in the novel is the bit with the spider. I do have empathy for the spider…Those awful bully androids…
So that’s what I thought about while reading this book. Unfortunately I finished it way past midnight, so my thoughts haven’t been organized too well.
What were your thoughts on this book?
Data remains my favourite android.