Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
Audible has misleadingly titled this book "Blade Runner", but it's not a novelization of Ridley Scott's 1982 movie. It's actually the original 1968 Philip K. Dick novel on which the film was based, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" I'm calling attention to this because there are huge differences between the film and PKD's book.
Though it's been a long time since I've seen Blade Runner, I think the two works complement each other and both deserve to be checked out. The movie has a prescient cyberpunk flavor and a gorgeous soundtrack, while the novel feels more rooted in the upheaval of the late 1960s, with its consciousness-altering "mood organs", empathic religious cult of Mercerism, and themes of post-WWIII environmental devastation. Dick’s undramatic, conversational writing style gives it all a creepy hyperrealism.
As in the movie, the protagonist, Richard Deckard, is a bounty hunter whose job is to "retire" androids, who have escaped forced servitude on space colonies and returned to an Earth that's gradually sinking into ruin. The androids have been designed with actual flesh exteriors, so they pass for human on cursory inspection. In some cases, they have implanted memories and actually think they're human. The only reliable way to recognize them, short of a bone marrow scan, is to subject them to a test that measures natural empathy, which androids lack. Of course, this is also an issue with some humans, as we come to find out.
In typical PKD fashion, the story muses about what's "real" and what isn't. A significant theme has to do with the owning of live animals as status symbols, since radioactive "dust" has pushed most species to the edge of extinction. Many people can't afford real animals, though, so manufacturers of fake replicas do a brisk business. There's also an "empathy" device that puts users in psychic contact with a being called Mercer, who might or might not be a hoax. And, at one point, a plot twist calls into question Deckard's own humanity.
The creators of Blade Runner were probably wise to push the weirder, Dickian stuff out of the story and just focus on the human vs android angle, but I enjoyed Dick's more philosophical vision and the questions he asks about the artificiality of modern human existence. While his ideas of the future are showing their age (we have androids, but still need human operators to connect a phone call?), some of them are prescient. Is sitting at home using an empathy box all that different from sitting at home aimlessly reading facebook? What happens when the fake world overruns the real one?
This probably isn't my favorite PKD novel (so far, that would be The Man in the High Castle), given that its ideas are no longer as mind-blowing or future-proof as they might have been back in 1968. Still, Blade Runner (the film) remains an important cultural touchstone among sci-fi geeks and the source material is interesting to compare and contrast. Audiobook narrator Scott Brick does a decent job, but he has a tendency to Spit. Out. His. Syllables. Which is a little distracting.
You never have to wait for anything if you bring a good book.
As a long-time science fiction reader I wanted to give this book a try, but the narrator is so bad, so lackadaisical and unmotivated that I think I will buy the paperback instead. I cannot stand listening to this guy drone on.
avid reader, on my way to avid listener. also an employee at Audible.
I wish the publishers had just stuck with the original title of this book (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?). Although, I understand that sales are most likely increased because of its increased association with the popular movie, Blade Runner. Still, the original title is so much better! It literally poses a question, and it is so satisfyingly frustrating because by the end of the novel, you have no answers; only more questions.
The questions that this book tackles are difficult, and the way Dick attempts (and just manages to attempt) these questions is well-rounded; topics such as atheism versus theism and reality versus unreality (or perhaps surreality). They're handled with elegance and the beauty of imperfection and incompletion. The attempt to answer only leads to more questions. And such fantastic questions.
For a science fiction novel, it's also pretty accessible. Dick takes a lot of pointers from the noir and detective fiction genres; there's a lot of satisfying action alongside the difficult, intellectual subject matter.
As for the audiobook, the narrator is much too slow. Listening to him on 3x speed sounded like the normal speed of most narrators. But he was good, otherwise. Don't let it deter you from listening.
Forced my way through it because it's supposed to be a "classic". Actually had to turn up the reading speed to keep from going mad at the pedantic, pause-filled pace. Pretty sure the narrator was told, "this is a five-hour book, but we can charge more if you go slow and stretch it out to 20 hours".
Do not read! But feel free to assign it to a bad student as punishment!
It was a good story and very thought provoking with some interesting characters and a good plot. Suspenseful and exciting story telling and the narration fits the novel's flow. But it was hard to follow how Rick was arriving at his conclusions and feelings and the entire last part of the book is very confusing and hard to tell what is real and not real which I guess is the point but there is no obvious resolution at all and just dropping things at the end left me a bit unsatisfied with what was a pretty good story.
I am brutally honest. Popular, love everything they read, reviewers are scared to go neg. and risk their ranking. It's your money!!!
DIAL A MOOD
PKD has a huge following. If you have already read a couple of Dick's books then you already know if you are a fan or not. This book has the cerebral feel of his work. Dick was a very troubled individual, who was married five times and was clinically mentally disturbed. I only mention this, as his personality comes out strongly in most of his writings. You will never come out of a Dick book feeling uplifted. He was highly intelligent and that also comes out in his work.
This takes place after World War Terminus. Most of the world has migrated to other planets. The radiation of Earth shortens the life and affects the mentality of the people who have stayed on the mostly abandoned Earth. Everyone on Earth owns a pet to show his empathy. The problem is that most animals are extinct and the ones left are very expensive. Some people have robot animals, as they are much less expensive, but you hide the fact that your animal is not real.
I prefer PKD's shorter works. The shorter works give you a chance to experience his brilliant mind and innovated ideas on how the future will be, without the hours long depression his books give you.
I ask the PKD followers to not unhelp me simply cause we disagree. The type of people who like the books I like and dislike the books I dislike, should not waste there money on these books. The PKD followers should get the book. Reviews of differing opinions should be allowed.
Scott Brick's narration fits the mood of the book.
Actually the Audible book Blade Runner is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Plot and story full of holes. Not Philip K Dicks best work. Not his worst either, but close. The Movie actually makes the story a must read. Without the movie, the novel alone is mediocre at best.
. . . I didn't.
1. Poor character development. You never really know or learn enough about Deckard to understand his actions.
2. Uneven writing. Dick spends paragraphs and pages describing Deckard's dreams of purchasing an animal, but not much more than a few sentences describing how or why he fell for Rachel. Mercerism is never really laid out enough give the viewer any idea of what is going on with those scenes.
Scott Brick is solid as usual, though he hams up the noir tone a bit too heavily here.
If you were born before 1960, the hopelessness and futility makes perfect sense. Given the tools he had, what a wonderful statement. I loved it.
Expect a broken heart. That's what we all waited for.
I found this book very slow going and a lot of it seemed aimless and pointless. Brick's reading drags and is read in a dreary tone. I've listened to approximately 100 audible books and only two were so bad that I set my iPod at fast speed just to get finished with them. This is one of the two. And Scott Brick is usually one of my favorite readers. If this book interests you, you should listen to Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan.