Justin's Reviews > Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
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Jun 24, 14

bookshelves: taught
Recommended for: sci fi fans, those interested in bringing down the quality of Bladerunner

I've been saying for years that this book is boring. But it's more than that, it's not excusable in the way that a purely boring book can be. Instead, it's a tremendous idea told badly.

It seems that when Dick wrote this he didn't have a good grasp on translating his big ideas into an engrossing--or even active story. It's not that there's no movement in the story. Things happen, but even when they do, even in the throes of the final confrontation, when Deckard is retiring three andys in one abandoned apartment, nothing ever SEEMS to happen.

Making the mundane exciting is one of those rare skills that good writers--if they're going to make it anywhere--must have full command over. Making the exciting mundane is a failing that returns in cause to Truman Capote's characteristically droll critique of On the Road:

"That's not writing, that's typing."

The amazing thing about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Philip K. Dick in general is how easily we can excuse his incessant typing for those moments when--as if by chance--writing catches up with him. There aren't many of those in this book, but occasionally, when the skin of the words breaks and some real pathos shows through, the hundred pages we've slogged through to get to this point don't matter.

That's the glory of PKD's ideas, and why his work has become a well of cinematic creation, that when they work as they should they're masterful stories that explore much of the human condition. The drawback--and in some ways the tax we as readers must pay--is that when they don't work, it's like dragging through a swamp: resistant to forward progress, and distasteful in our mouths.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Dana I think you're right to say that it's bad despite it's ideas. The post-apocalyptic setting and the concepts of electric animals and mood machines are intriguing, are something that I remember years after reading this book, but they're not enough to make me want to read it again.


Tiffany G A tremendous idea told badly. You summarized the book perfectly.


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