Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there lurked several rogue androids. Deckard's assignment: find them and then..."retire" them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn't want to be found!
Originally published as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, this novel was the basis for the classic movie starring Harrison Ford.
©1968 Philip K. Dick; (P)2007 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
It has almost no relation to the movie but makes some very interesting points in its own right. In some ways I like it even better than the movie. There is a whole subplot in the book about people needing to care for the remaining animals on the planet only alluded to in the movie with the one line asking if the owl is real. In the book people that cannot afford real animals to take of get electric ones to keep face with the neighbors. The commentary on this and how culty people can be might turn some off but I thought it made the story more relevant to the real world.
Great Book. Please understand that you are not getting Blade Runner at all. This book was actually titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and the movie Blade Runner was VERY loosely based on the novel.
After seeing negative reviews for this book I was a bit dubious, but being a huge fan of Blade Runner I gave it a shot anyway. I was very happy to find that the novel, while being pretty much an entirely different story, was very entertaining and thought provoking. I had never read Dick before and I will most certainly explore more of his work in the near future. The reading by Scott Brick was great as well... as usual.
Audible is my key to fitting my science fiction and fantasy pleasure reading into my schedule, so that's what you'll see me review here!
First, rest assured this is a recording of Phillip K. Dick's book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and not a novelization of the film. However, this is one instance in which the book compliments the film. Phillip K. Dick, who didn't live to see the film completed but did see production stills and read the script, also felt the film complimented his work: one can add to the appreciation of the other. Having seen the film before reading (or listening) to the book, I feel like I have a better understanding of both and can appreciate each on its own merits.
On a near-future earth ravaged by the radioactive fallout of the last World War, the remnants of humanity who have stubbornly decided to stay (instead of emigrating to the off-world colonies) occasionally have to contend with androids--escapees from their lives as servants on the off-world colonies. Much of humanity has reached a state of relative peace thanks to a religion based on empathy (sympathizing and then identifying with another), but the androids lack empathy and are thus dangerous to other humans, so its up to bounty hunters like Rick Deckard to find out who is human and who is machine and "retire" the androids.
Phillip K. Dick's books often have wacky premises, but the reason readers and film producers keep coming back to his work is that he creates a compelling internal logic and structure of feeling for his characters to act within. Deckard comes to question how he defines his humanity and the perils/limits of empathy, for example. This book isn't action-based (although there is some of that), but really based around tense moments (and to Dick's credit, they are tense moments) where Deckard is having crisis of conscience or is questioning who is a real person, who is artificial, and what that distinction means. This led to several moments that put me on the edge of my seat. The ominous atmosphere of post-nuclear earth, the inhuman threat of the androids, and the other strange elements of the story come together to form a quirky but immersive atmosphere for Deckard's inner struggles with himself and outer struggle with the androids.
I would summarize Scott Bricks typical narrative style in two words: broody and languid. He draws out words and creates an almost hypnotic rolling effect with his voice that is enjoyable if you are in the mood for that. Brick doesn't read, he performs, but that performance may not be to everyone's taste (so do listen to the sample clip). Still, it fits well with this book: his almost melancholy narration highlights the gloom of post-nuclear Earth and the broodiness of the characters themselves.
I found it very strange that there were so many negative reviews on this book and the reader. If you are a Philip K. Dick fan, I don't see how you can react negatively to this reading. The book explores many rich themes that the movie does not have time to develop. I offer the opinion that you could enjoy the movie and the book as two complementary works exploring the same basic question, "what does it mean to be human?". However the book asks other questions dealing with religion and empathy and what they mean in the context of being human. Deckard's epiphany in the desert gets to the heart of the answer. It is this self-exploration of what matters (and what should matter) that differentiates the humans from the androids. This is not Hollywood science fiction, this reading is science fiction from an author unafraid to look into the future and tell us about ourselves as we will be.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
Philip K Dick is one of the most overlooked writers of the mid 20th Century in my view. He has continually asked the interesting and disturbing questions about what is reality. In this, his best known book (albeit known to most under this title and not its more accurate and provacative release title, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?") he asks it with a callous disregard for the answer, so long as it is the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and bad things need to be done; Dick doesn't shy away from either.
I enjoyed listening to this for the bit parts, too. A by-product of familiarity perhaps, sometimes text can become banal. Not this text. The entrophy of the society it depicts, and which Scott Brick captures well in his performance, is never lost because the "bits" sustain the whole. JR Esidore (Brick sounding like William Sanderson as F B Farnum in "Deadwood") is a treat. His faltering "chicken head" wisdom is as ironic as it is insightful. Buster Friendly (perhaps a foerunner to the caller in Hunger Games) is annoying but unforgettable. Rachael is beautiful and (as herself and as Pris) callous as can be imagined. And for all of that, Deckard is as complex, and flawed and believable as he was 50 years ago, (30 years ago, when I first read this, at least).
I think this is an important book. It is a signpost for The Terminator which was to come and a reminder of the ease with which we can slip into genocide, the worship of false idols and belief in our own superiority which has gone, but is never really lost. This is serious and entertaining science fiction for a person who likes to think about why we do the things we do.
"... there are times when silence is a poem." - John Fowles, the Magus ^(;,;)^
Top shelf Philip K Dick exploring a tangled web of heavy themes like: what it means to be human, the nature and limits of empathy, love, religion, God, entropy, animals, decay.
I had mistakenly put off this novel because HELL I already saw the movie. How can you improve upon THAT movie? Well, the book is better. A cliché, certainly I know, but it is spot on with this book. The movie captures a piece of the PKD mad genius, but it is a 2D representation of a 3D Dick. IT is an android, an artificial sheep of a movie that moves, bellows and behaves perfectly but doesn't have the spark the sizzle or the depth of the novel and IT was a HELLUVA good movie.
Anyway, I'm caught up in a PHDickathon and just ordered a bunch more of his novels off EBay, so I should at least have room to softly land my tattered soul after this amazing novel. Next up? 'Ubik' or 'a Scanner Darkly'.
Please understand that you are not getting 'Blade Runner' at all. This book should be titled 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep', and the movie 'Blade Runner' was VERY loosely based on the novel.
People tell me that it sucks because their expecting 'Blade Runner' and I think Audible should change the name and stop putting 'Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep' in small writing and make it the main title with 'Blade Runner' below it. Its deceptive if you ask me and my explain the low ratings.
I got this book because someone told me that like 'Dune' the real story was so much better. I listened to this book while a family member read it and we both agree this is much better.
I almost didn't read this book because someone told it was 'Blade Runner' and I wanted the original book. Glad I didn't listen. Because here we have the details of the story that 'Blade Runner' doesn't give us. Here we get a real feel for what was really happening in the future. We see how unintended consequences of our actions can come back to bite us in the rear. 'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.' - Salvor Hardin in "Foundation" by Isaac Asimov. If we had learned this then we would not have the basis of this story.
There is so much packed into this short novel it is hard know where to begin a review. To keep it concise, here’s what I liked: This novel does what only scifi novels are able to do: ask the Big Questions. No, I don’t mean questions like “what is the meaning of love?” (although it asks that question, too) but even more profound questions like “what does it mean to be human?” and “why are we afraid of anything that is different?” Anyone who has seen and loved some of the best Star Trek episodes (Measure of a Man, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield) has seen later flowerings of the seeds planted by this 1968 novel. Which brings me to the things I didn’t like. A major element of the novel was a quasi-religion called “Mercerism” that involved people hooking themselves into machines to dial up whatever emotions they wanted to experience. Sounded a lot like a 1960’s fantasy of a culture with government-sanctioned drug trips. That part of the book’s plot felt dated and extraneous, and not because I know this thread is missing from the movie based on the book. If I have ever seen Blade Runner, I do not remember it at all. So for me, this book stands on its own. I salute it for being a visionary piece of science fiction and for its place as a touchstone for so much of modern scifi. And I really loved that the eponymous question is never outright asked in the book. What do I think is the answer? A definite “yes.”
Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrators. I think his reading style goes well with science fiction. He can make things sound just – a – little – bit – off, which is just what was called for in this case.
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.
In looking at other reviews I find I am not alone in not caring for the reading of this classic. One reviewer stated that Scott Brick is one of his favorites so I'll give him another chance. It seems to me the sentences were divided into phrases for drama but the effect was lost when every sentence seemed to have this effect.
The conversational flow was lost and it was choppy.
I only wish Harrison Ford read this one. The version of the movie where he narrated was the best one (to me anyway)
Dispite my dislike of the read I enjoyed the book very much. I read the hard cover version years ago and it was a nice refresher.
"Why the title?"
Surely, as this is a telling of 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' should it not be called the same? Having been a fan of the film for many years I had never got around to reading the book. It is so completely different it was almost a different story. So why call it 'Blade Runner'?
Well read; excellent story; so random and confusing in places it made my head sore. A must for any sci fi fans who likes off-the-world worlds.
"More than just a story about killing androids"
Really enjoyed the book. It is vastly different from the film and I think calling the audiobook "Blade Runner" is a bit disingenuous. The hunt for the androids is almost a sub plot and the book concentrates more on creating a very terrifying and believable futuristic world and the desperate people still stick on earth after a devastating war. In the book, Deckard muses on his desire to own a real animal instead of a robotic imitation and how publicity admitting you have a robot is a social faux pas. A haunting book that is well read and, in my opinion, better than the film.
"Great book, slow Reader"
Big fan of Philip K Dick & this is a classic.
The only criticism for me is the readers slow rather soporific delivery that rather downplays the faster moving pace & excitement of the story.
Doesn't really help when you speed up on your listening device either, then it sounds unnatural.
"Droning voice matched droning narrative"
I felt that the reading matched the style of the voice perfectly i.e. world-weary narrator, inescapable doom.
"Don't expect fast paced"
Anyone expecting a fast paced scifi adventure, or even cop adventure for that matter, look elsewhere.
There are some similarities with the film, but it seems that the film makers added a lot. If they used the term "blade runner" anywhere then I missed it, and there was none of the iconic photo zooming.
It is quite dark, quite slow and in places maybe a little depressing, It is Philip K Dick after all, that is too be expected (the short story Total Recall is based on I don't recall a single shot being fired!).
But it is enjoyable if that is what you are in the mood for, just don't go expecting an action packed thrill ride with a Disney ending! Remember that the main tool in a bounty hunter's arsenal (not blade runner) is a interview to determine subtle physiological response to stress! This does not lend it self to big shoot outs and explosions
It took me a little while to get used to the reader, but I liked him overall, especially the way he pronounced the protagonist's surname "Deckard"
One really annoying thing, the androids are referred to as andies which makes them sound a little too cute, I much prefer the term replicant, makes them sound a little more threatening.
"Great concept, Poor execution"
I'd never seen the movie, but knew all about its cult status and decided to give the book a try.
The narration was good, the story was a great idea, but it just didn't work very well. It was very slow in places and what should have been the high point of the story was rushed over and anti-climactic.
I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it and I'm sure die-hards will like it, but to me it doesn't compare to the last book I listened to (Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game)
"Back to Basics"
As a lover of the film I was intrigued to get closer to the source of the story. I found this recording very well presented and added considerably to my understanding of the context of the film. As with the film it is a sombre, somewhat depressing and often difficult to understand. If you are into this genre - well worth a listen.
"Disappointing in the extreme"
This book was so awful I have to wonder how it was ever made into the great movie with Harrison Ford starring. Perhaps if it had gone 'off world' for a bit instead of focusing on drab tenements in a dust-storm, it might have had more appeal. As it was it was just depressing.
I think I need to be more choosy and not assume a good movie means a good book.
I like Scott Brick. He is one of the best narrators going. His work on Dune was outstanding and deserved an award, as did that of the other narrators who worked on that excellent series. In this book though he was faced with a clanger that even he couldn't rescue.
I think I would have left out all the ridiculous stuff about robotic pets. It added nothing to he veracity of the book but distracted from the real story which is what happens when androids become more intelligent and indeed more human in their emotions than the humans who created them. I guess that's why there were no robotic pets in the film.
Dune by Frank Herbert is a far better book and series than this light-weight alternative.
"Now I'm REALLY depressed - still rated 5 stars"
Deep, Depressing, Hopeless
The realisation that the film is almost nothing like the book at all - the names of the characters are the same but that's about it.
The story is told very laconically, like an old black and white noir detective film (Hey Doll), absolutely perfect - but it does make it quite slow paced at times.
I have never quite managed to get round to reading this book, but have read a lot of Philip K. Dick in my time - I think, mainly because I liked the film so much and didn't want that destroyed. I will now have to re-watch the film to check, but I think this is one of those rare cases where the film might be better than the book.
"Do androids dream of electric sheep"
As mentioned by others, this is the Philip K Dick book, not the film screenplay. The narrator is very deadpan and I lost interest in the story after about an hour. I will get and read the book but the lack of expression in the story left me cold. So in summary, cannot properly comment on the story but 1 star for the package.
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