Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick

I’m very disappointed. Not only in the book, but also in myself. I wanted to like it, and this novel is such a classic in science-fiction that you can’t really say you read voraciously in this genre unless you’ve read something by Philip K. Dick. And there’s nothing wrong with the book per se, but because the way it’s written is in a style that I can’t stand, I had to abandon it.

Whenever I’m struggling to read a book, I sometimes cheat and skim read the Wikipedia summary to see if it’s worth finishing. And it was. I can see the plot being fast-paced with twists and turns in the right places.

But Dick uses a convention that I hate in my science fiction and that’s excessive world building. I know it defeats the whole purpose of science fiction but my God, does it drive me up the wall. There’s too many things going on and I found it highly distracting.

In its defence, I can see why it’s a classic; Dick is trying to get readers to question what is real and what is not, but most importantly, what defines us as humans and what does not?

There were parts I did really like and I wanted to read the novel to the very end to see if there anything more like that. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the very confronting scene where Deckard attempts to discern if Rachael Rosen is an android. Here you can see the early seed of doubt being planted in his mind and Dick is really trying to show the potential flaws in Voigt Kampff testing apparatus.

But I just lost interest when Dick kept going on and on. I would have been fine if Dick described a world where he changed one aspect of it and delved deep into that one concept such as humans living amongst human-like androids. Talk to me about how humans feel threatened by these copies. Talk to me about the possibility of some humans preferring the company of androids over real people. Introduce an android that doesn’t realize it’s nothing more than wire and metal and has an existential crisis over it.

But instead, he introduced a thousand ideas such as controlling your moods electronically (which would be a fantastic idea in its own right) and the fact there are sub-humans roaming around called specials. I like my science fiction to drive home a poignant concept about humanity but there’s too many things going on at once.

In theory I would have liked the book, and if you like science fiction, I highly suggest giving this a crack but unfortunately, given my personal reading tastes for sci-fi, I have relegated this to the ‘Didn’t Finish Reading’ pile. Perhaps when I don’t have a thousand and one unread books on my shelf, I will give this another try, but it’s highly unlikely.


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