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lady_hockey
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Registered: ‎04-10-2007
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[Do Androids] General Discussion.

Here's our October discussion. I hope this one generates more posting than September's did.

What did you like about this book? What didn't you like?
Would you want to live in this version of the future? Why or why not?
What advances did you like? Did you dislike? How did they help or hurt society?
Would you want an android pet? Friend? Significant other? Why or why not?

These are just a springboard, feel free to discuss anything about the novel that you can think of. Please pose your own questions.
~*~Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.~*~
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PatienceP
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a well-written, intelligent, and moving book. It's perhaps the best work of Philip K. Dick's I've read so far.
No, I would not want to live in that vs. of the future! Radioactive dust, and likely other sorts of dust, settling everywhere on Earth and messing up the genetics of everyone on earth; real animal life rare when it isn't extinct; most humans killed off or colonizing other planets, and many of the ones left declared third-class citizens, even if we stick to organic humans. And I don't know that I could get into Mercerism itself.
I'm impressed by hovercars, space colonies that actually work (even if they aren't much fun), and the realistic artificial life (when it isn't being homicidal). I'm very much unnerved by Penfield organs and the Mercer device; I don't like the idea of the mind being messed with so directly and powerfully. I've mixed feelings about that test that measures empatheticness; it's not evil in itself, but the warning about false negatives (calling a human an android) is clear and, in that society, unheeded.
The technology in the book is double-pronged: it's meant to get people off earth and to make the people content, or even happy, by distancing them from the reality of their situations. ("Dial 3 to feel like dialing a number"?!)
I might like an android pet; no harm, perhaps some fun. I don't think I'd have much more trouble with android friends than with human ones. But I do not want an android significant other: my species taboo kicks in there.
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
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PatienceP
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Oh--and some of my own thoughts:
The copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I got my mitts on was actually marked Blade Runner after the movie with Harrison Ford. The actual title came only after that.
I like this book, but I severely disliked the film Blade Runner.
I think this is because the film cut subplots, and perhaps parts of the main plot, that added meaning.
But I didn't know that when I saw the film--I hadn't read the book then...
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
New User
Durandal
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎10-17-2007

Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Wow, I hope more people chime in on this discussion. What a great, great book. I just discovered the book club here today, so I'm commenting based on the last time I read this, which was a couple years ago.

Phil Dick was just an amazing talent, and this is one of his best. It's incredible that such a troubled soul could produce such great work -- but I guess that's often the case, isn't it?

"Androids" has got that very unique paranoid feel that Dick was able to evoke in so many of his books. I mean, what could be more paranoid than wondering if the person you're talking to is really human?

His future in this book is grim and dystopian -- there's pretty much nothing redeeming about it. But it's a great precursor to the '80s cyberpunk worlds created by guys like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling.



PatienceP wrote:
Oh--and some of my own thoughts:
The copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I got my mitts on was actually marked Blade Runner after the movie with Harrison Ford. The actual title came only after that.
I like this book, but I severely disliked the film Blade Runner.
I think this is because the film cut subplots, and perhaps parts of the main plot, that added meaning.
But I didn't know that when I saw the film--I hadn't read the book then...




Patience, I wonder which version of Blade Runner you saw? There's three different ones now. It's a fantastic movie, in my opinion, though it diverges pretty far from the book. What didn't you like about it?
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PatienceP
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Yes, it is amazing that such troubled souls produce such great work; yes, it often happens that such troubled souls create such great works. People like Philip K. Dick see things differently than less troubled people. Sometimes they even see it more truly; the work is great when it makes truths more accessible.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is likely the best book of Philip Dick's I've read--though I hope to do another pass at A Scanner Darkly sometime.
Yes, there is paranoia, lots of it, at least for Decker. Only outsiders feel paranoia within the book--but only they have a clue about what's going on.
It's worse than "Is this person really human?" Decker starts hitting his real crisis when he finds himself comparing the "humanity" and value of a replicant opera singer who happens to be one of the greatest opera singers ever to that of the bounty hunter who killed her.
Which version of Blade Runner did I see? Not the most recent one, I don't think, but it was supposed to be remastered. It was one with beginning and ending narration--which apparently did not remaster as well as most of the film...
The problem with the film? I couldn't develop empathy with the lead or the situation. :smileysad: Also, while the future depicted in Dick's book is far worse than that of Blade Runner--I'll bet there are places far worse than the world of Blade Runner even now--Dick's writing has beauty and, and the ending of the book has grandeur and something vaguely resembling redemption mixed in with the squalid tragedy. The book has a complete and fitting tale. The film has to show its world directly, and that world and that film are ugly, and Decker's running off with that replicant at the end of the film doesn't feel like a conclusion.
* * * * *

Sadness isn't sadness
It's happiness
In a black jacket

--Paul McCartney
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

I know old thread, but when I find it, ya know.

First, let me state I like both the book and the movie.
Even Mr. Dick liked the finished movie.

All three of the versions of the movie(don't I wish they would just put it all on the same DVD already) are BASED on the book. None of them were ever meant as direct translations.

I've never read a Phillip K. Dick book that didn't have paranoia as the underlining theme. The man was a paranoid. Doesn't detract, just a point of fact.

The mind altering elements in "andriods" are where the book, well slips a bit. The evil mind altering box a TV theme perhaps?
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RHWright
Posts: 1,619
Registered: ‎10-21-2009

Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Major PKD fan. One of my all-time favorite writers.

 

What did you like about this book? What didn't you like?

 

Here, as in other Dick works, I like how he extrapolates a mundane future: it's not just flashy, utopian space opera; it's a world populated with policemen, salesmen, and repairmen. He also balances a bleak reality with themes of hope, redemption, and forgiveness. And the usual big PKD question: what does it mean to be human?

 

Would you want to live in this version of the future? Why or why not?

 

PKD's worlds might be nice to visit and take in the atmosphere. But since they don't really play on that wish-fulfillment level they're not places people would like to usually actually live.

 

What advances did you like? Did you dislike? How did they help or hurt society?

 

PKD's not really a futurist in that sense. He projects and extrapolates his surroundings into a possible future, often to an absurd extreme. He was living in a time when technology was swiftly changing day to day life. Plastics, TV dinners, the Pill: a world where the ersatz and manufactured was replacing the real and handmade. It's not a stretch to look at that and imagine mood organs and android sheep.

 

PKD didn't seem to see new technologies as essentially transformational to human nature. Give us cool, shiny, new toys and we're going to use them like the people we are; we invent new things, we rarely reinvent who we are.

 

Would you want an android pet? Friend? Significant other? Why or why not?

 

The temptation is there, especially with a beloved pet. I know I will outlive my dog. Would it be wrong to recreate her after she's gone?

 

But, if not, where does it stop? Deceased love ones? That girl/guy who won't give you the time of day? Yourself? Yes! Live on indefinitely. These all have serious implications.

 

PKD was touching on these themes when they were pure science fiction. They may be more pressing as they inch toward science fact: The Singularity Is Near. I think Phil would be as disturbed by this as I am.

 

 As to the book/movie differences. I love both for wholly different reasons. Blade Runner took certain themes and ran with them in a very different, cinematic vein.

 

Honestly, I think very few of PKD's novels would make great movies without this approach. You can't have the adherence to the original work that, say, LOTR or Harry Potter had. The costume design alone on UBIK would have people rolling in the aisles.

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Pavel
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

I wish people would stop calling PKD a "troubled soul" just because he did some drugs in the sixties and invented his own religion. It sounds patronizing, like he's somebody to be pitied. I think he had it together better than most of us.

 

I think if you want to ask questions about this book, you first have to ask the obvious one: Do androids dream of the electric sheep? Answer: They don't need to.

 

What did you like about this book? What didn't you like?

 

I don't really do that, I mean like books partially. On rare occasion I'll like a book but hate just one part, like where an infant dies because the author wants to manufacturer extra emotion or something, but most of the time I either like the book or I don't.

 

I love most of the PKD's books because of that "whoa" moment, that moment when it all dawns on you, when you see through the veil. Androids was no exception. I think the Turing test was a brilliant plot device. I think, as always in PKD books, the world is a brilliant backdrop.

 

What advances did you like? Did you dislike? How did they help or hurt society?

 

One of the main PKD's themes is the fact that the "advances" are meaningless if the human race does not evolve, and it never does. The Empire never ended.



Author of Project Antichrist, a sci fi novel.
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deesy58
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

I read the book so long ago that I really don't remember it much.  I did, however, watch the movie "The Matrix" several times, and I really liked it (but not the sequels).  How closely does the movie follow the book.

 

Thanks!

 

 

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MacMcK1957
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.


deesy58 wrote:

I read the book so long ago that I really don't remember it much.  I did, however, watch the movie "The Matrix" several times, and I really liked it (but not the sequels).  How closely does the movie follow the book.

 

Thanks!


Not in the slightest, since Blade Runner, not The Matrix, was the movie based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

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deesy58
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

[ Edited ]

Ahhh, yes.  Thanks!  I saw that one several times, also.

 

What book was Matrix based on, if any?

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MacMcK1957
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Pretty sure Matrix was original, written for the screen.

 

Although the whole concept of reality not being reality is a recurring theme in so many Dick works.

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deesy58
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Thanks for the info.  I think I was a little confused, there.  :smileytongue:

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RHWright
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

I hadn't thought of it before you brought it up, but now that you have, The Matrix does have many elements and themes that are very Dickian in nature.

 

The real vs. virtual world (& hints that the "real" world may be just another level of simulation)

What does it mean to be "human"? Many of the programs in the Matrix exhibit human-like characteristics; so what makes them different than humans?

 

I think some of the spiritual/philosophical themes also lend it a bit of that feel too.

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MacMcK1957
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

If you read We Can Remember It For You Wholesale (the story that became Total Recall), or Ubik, you also get that whole confusion between perception and reality.  By the end of The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch you have no idea what reality even is.

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HoosierJoe
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Can I differ?  That allowed?

 

I read Do Androids ... just a few months ago.  And didn't all that much care for it.  Yes, for the time it was written (and I was around then), it was inventive and original, I will give it that.  It was readable.  But there were a lot of things I just didn't care for about it.  I will leave those things be.  Don't want to spoil the discussion.

 

I would rate it a 2 1/2 to 3 star out of 5. 

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RHWright
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

Androids is nowhere near his best novel, IMO. It gets so much attention because Blade Runner is beloved by so many and is loosely adapted from it.

 

It does have many of his characteristic themes and has some great moments, but overall I don't even rank it top 5 for him.

 

You're more then welcome to differ. As an admitted lover of his work, sometimes I can be a blind to its faults. It would actually be interesting to hear what someone who didn't care for it had to say about it.

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MacMcK1957
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Re: [Do Androids] General Discussion.

I thought there was one interesting theme in the book that did not get included in the movie.  The entire world has joined some sort of philosophy/religion (that turns out to be based on a fraud) that is so ingrained in the psyche that the test to see if somone is an android is to describe a 20th-century cook boiling lobsters alive, or a deer head hanging on a wall.  Real humans react so instinctively to such a horrific description that anyone who doesn't must be a replicant.  Pity the time-traveler from today.