Benjamin Duffy's Reviews > Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
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Jun 15, 13

bookshelves: e-books, great-movie-great-book, fantasy-sci-fi
Read from April 27 to 28, 2011

It seems to me that a lot of science fiction writers, even well-known and popular ones, aren’t great writers. They’re great at concept and imagination, but not always that good at conveying their imaginings to the reader. One example would be Larry Niven, whose Ringworld quartet I finished a couple of years ago. As captivated as I was by his world-building, I was equally frustrated by his storytelling. The pacing hitched and jerked like an old truck, racing through some parts while draaaaaaaagging through others, and the description was so vague that it was often like looking at Niven’s (presumably amazing) world through a small, dirty window.

After reading Philip K. Dick’s Adjustment Team, I was prepared to put him in the same category, as that book was built on an interesting premise, but just felt skeletal and under-written. Fortunately for me, I decided to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and see if I was wrong. I was. The book is richly written, nicely paced, and while the dialogue is slightly wooden, that actually fits well in a story where most of the characters are androids, psychopaths, or mentally retarded – it added an uneasy, off-kilter feel to character interactions that worked nicely with the atmosphere of the book. I also found the religious and philosophical aspects of the story very interesting, not to mention unique, which is pretty hard to accomplish.

I was of course very familiar with Blade Runner, the film inspired by this book, but I did my best not to let that affect my expectations. As it turns out, the book is very different in feel to the film, being desolate and post-apocalyptic rather than claustrophobic and noir-ish. There’s also a pretty heavy dose of cultural satire with a feel somewhat like Stephen King’s The Running Man or the film Robo-Cop. Except for the shared names of a lot of the characters, it would have been easy to forget the movie was even based on the book.

I highly recommend this book, whether you've seen the movie, liked it, or not. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is an intriguing, thought-provoking creature all its own.

PS - One interesting thing is that the titular electric sheep actually feature significantly in the plot. It’s not just some metaphor, as I assumed it would be. Crazy.
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Reading Progress

04/28/2011 "Already much better than Adjustment Team."

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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message 1: by Forrest (new)

Forrest I dig your reviews man.. I've never read this one and now I will!


Benjamin Duffy Awesome, I'll be interested to see what you think of it!


Tristyn Doesn't the book make the movie make more sense? I felt like the additional facets in the book about religion, and yes, sheep, made the characters' motivations and actions make a lot more sense, and all that was just completely not in the movie that I recall.


Benjamin Duffy Definitely. The movie was pretty much a straight detective story with some existential flourishes at the end (don't get me wrong; it's one of my favorites). The book made a lot of things in the movie more understandable - the whole Q&A test that screened for androids, just to name one.


message 5: by C.S. (new)

C.S. I have to agree with your first sentence. I'm thinking of Orson Scott Card, here. I recently reread Ender's Shadow, after many years, and was shocked at the mediocre quality of the writing. It made me read Ender's Game once more (for about the fourth time), and wonder how I could have been so unaware. It's probably true that when you become a writer yourself, you become more attuned to writing quality. Ender's Game is still one of my favorites, but a bit of the shine has worn off.


message 6: by Arielle (new) - added it

Arielle Walker Great review! I still haven't finish it as I accidentally lent it to someone when I was halfway through, but I'm still dying to read it. This review just adds incentive to that.


Mohnish The empathy box was a very unique idea I think. Gr8 review!


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