Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

It is my intention to always try to be positive when I write about the work of other people. I, for one, know how difficult it is to create, and thus try to give the benefit of the doubt to the creator, whenever possible. So it is with much sadness that I say this novel failed to live up to a very promising start and clever staging of the story.

The first hundred pages of this book are simply fantastic. Philip K. Dick’s dystopian future is at once horribly depressing yet so well imagined that the outset of the story is incredibly immersive. In fact, the first 20 pages were so incredible that I wondered if I had found a new favorite, or at least a new book for my top ten.

  • Bounty hunter with odd motivations (awesome!)
  • Escaped androids (awesome!)
  • Weird religion with opiated adherents (believable!)
  • Fanciful technology with societal repercussions (cool thought experiments!)
  • A very clear “what does it mean to be human?” theme (really AWESOME!)

But it really just falls flat and fails to develop beyond these nascent ideas and characterizations.

I certainly don’t want to give away spoilers or anything, but I would take the ending of the movie Blade Runner over how this book ended any day of the week. I mean, I finished the book…sat there for a second reeling from a depressive wave of emotional letdown…and just said aloud, “that sucked!”

Maybe I am at fault. Maybe I imported my expectations onto the early themes I found in the book, rather than just letting it be a day in the life of a bounty hunter. I wanted it to be more…I wanted it to cross the divide of human vs. human-like android in some sort of nod to its own idea that to be human is to be empathetic…first for humans, then to the animals, then finally to androids. But the characters turn out to be paper thin and unchanging, and I’m left feeling dehumanized by the “protagonist” rather than celebrating his apparent victory.

Published under book-club, science-fiction, philip-k-dick