> Science Fiction: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” is now a classic SF novel by Philip K. Dick. The plot revolves around a bounty hunter, named Rick Decard, who’s job is to hunt and kill androids who are illegally staying on Earth. Since androids look like humans, the only way for a bounty hunter to tell a difference is to administer an empathy test. If a person fails the test he(or she) is proven to be an android and is then “retired”.

If all this sounds familiar, it is probably because you have seen the movie “Blade Runner”, which is based on this book. The interesting factoid is that the phrase “Blade Runner” does not appear in Philip K. Dick’s book, but there exists another SF book titled “The Blade Runner”. That “Blade Runner” is about a smuggler of surgical equipment, so the title is apt. I suppose “Blade Runner” is a cooler title for a movie.

In the dystopia of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, the world has been devastated by war and only people who are too sick or too poor are left. Very few other animals have survived, so the remaining humans keep cybernetic animals as pets and pretend they are real ones. An actual animal, if one could be found, would be extremely expensive, although owning one would seriously status enhance one’s status.

The test that is supposed to tell human from android tests for empathy. It occurred to me that such a test could perhaps also identify a sociopath (lack of empathy, selfishness etc), so androids in this novel could be identified by sociopathic behavior.

In any case, this was about a third time I had read this book and I still enjoyed it. Since by today’s standards it is not very long, it can serve as good introduction to Philip K. Dick’s works.