What Makes One Human? Book Review.

June 6, 2018

 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?

 

Rick Deckard wants a real animal with all his heart. It doesn't really matter what kind it is—sheep, horse, ostrich, goat...as long as it is a coveted variety and it is as real as he is. Animals are rare in Deckard's world, and carry a hefty price tag. He previously owned a sheep whom he loved, but after it died from tetanus  he had an electric unit put into his sheep's body so the neighbors wouldn't know that he didn't own a real sheep, but *he* knows it and this drives him crazy.

Deckard makes a salary working as a bounty hunter for the local police department, but he hits his true payday when he brings in android at $1k a pop. He figures if he can bring in six andys then he'd have enough to put a down payment on just about any animal he wants. When he is alerted that eight androids of the latest model are in his part of the city, he becomes determined to capture or retire all of them, no matter what the cost. The typical test he uses to determine a human from android doesn't work so hot on the latest of android models, so he must resort to other methods, including asking a an attractive young woman android for help.

 

This book was far better than I was expecting and a zippy read. Phillip K Dick explores spirituality, morality and ethicality all within the elements of a fading society in an age of state of the art technology within a poisonous natural world where instincts and freedom is a myth.There is right and wrong and yet there is no right or wrong. There is heart and mind intelligence wherever you land between the two is your own personal journey and everyone, whether alone or together, will trudge up the hill like ol' Wilbur Mercer in the book's religion. Is it the wrong or right path? You might get a stone thrown at you, which is judgement, but ultimately that is our own cross to bear either by oneself or within a community of people. Is the religion real or false? I think the book is well summed up when Deckard says, "Everything is true. Everything anybody has ever thought."  Even if Mercer was just an actor and the hill he climbed was just a painting, what the people gripping the box and shared with each other was true, they created their own reality based on the teachings.

 

I also feel that Deckard needing to own a *real* animal wasn't just about status, it was about him clinging to what makes one human, his instincts, heart. His fear of the poisoned world was also poisoning his mind, hardening him up, and yet we see in Isidore that even though the world has corrupted his mental capacities, that he was the warmest and accepting character of anyone in the story, not being able to see, until the even with the spider, the difference between humans and androids. 

 

The movie Blade Runner is a fun movie, but it barely captures what the author built into this world, which is quite disappointing. I would definitely suggest this book to anyone who is looking for an action packed and thoughtful read.

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