Saturday, March 10, 2012

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

by Philip K. Dick

Grade: 4 stars
Story: This is the story that Blade Runner was based off of. A bounty hunter who "retires" androids is sent on a mission to destroy six escaped androids, of the newest and most human-like variety. Then follows much introspection, depression, and worry about the affordability of animals. Also some gun-shooting and tracking and fights to the death, but it's still not as action-oriented as Blade Runner.

Thoughts: Recently I watched about half of Blade Runner, but, due to not having enough time, I wasn't able to finish it (I will soon, I assure you!). Unfortunately, this highly coloured my reading experience for the first half of this book. And as the book and the movie have quite a different flavour and atmosphere, I felt strangely disconnected to the book. At least at first. Once I got past the place where I stopped in the movie, I settled much more firmly into the book, and began to enjoy it quite a lot more. But the end effect is that it seems almost disjointed and incomplete in my mind, although I know it isn't. However, I did greatly enjoy it despite this unfortunate circumstance.

Like many science fiction stories, a kind of hopelessness and melancholy pervades it, along with a plethora of intriguing ideas. Especially, as should be obvious by now, about the nature of humanity and artificial intelligence. They are ideas which fascinate me, and were I in a situation in which I was surrounded by intellectual Catholics, I would dearly love to have a rousing discussion on the matter. Some day, perhaps. As is, I'll have to let this book settle down in my mind, and try to hash it out on my own for a while.

It's amusing to read a book like this, which was written so long ago (1968), but meant to take place so far in the future (2021, actually--not so far anymore). There is so much unimaginably sophisticated technology present in this book--not only the androids, but machines which can give you any emotion you wish or meld your mind with thousands of others, and of course the flying cars. And yet at the same time, it mentions that movie special effects use painted backgrounds and ketchup for blood! I suppose we're going to have that strange juxtaposition for as long as people write futuristic sci fi stories.

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