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A reader's guide to Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?

Updated Monday, 1st January 2007

Get under the realistic-looking skin of the book which inspired Blade Runner.

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Philip K Dick is one of the key figures in the genre of science fiction. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? voices his concerns about the mercenary nature of society, satirizes the way that television programmes provide an alternative ‘reality’ for many people, and reflects his anxiety about the possibility of nuclear war.

Following the devastation caused by World War Terminus, mass emigration from Earth is arranged and each dutiful emigrant qualifies for ownership of an android. Citizens who remain risk being categorized as ‘specials’, this being a negative, derogatory term.

Renegade androids who escape to Earth are tracked down and ‘retired’ by bounty hunters like Rick Deckard. He is a man with a mission, which he hopes will fund his dream of acquiring a real, live animal as opposed to a manufactured one.

In 1982 Ridley Scott made a movie loosely based on Dick’s novel. Blade Runner became famous and influential, but forum contributors might like to consider whether or not it stayed true to the spirit of the book.

Philip K Dick Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC
Philip K Dick

As you read the novel, you might like to focus on the following questions:

Is this novel social fiction rather than science fiction?

Is it an allegory? If so, what is it about?

What is the significance of the book’s title?

Is there a distinctive characteristic that defines us as 'human'?

Is it right to think in terms of ‘high’ fiction and ‘low’ fiction? How would you rate this novel?

And, by way of preliminary research, try looking up the Myth of Sisyphus…

 

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