Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

“If you have it, does it matter if it’s real?”

Overview: San Francisco lies under a cloud of radioactive dust. The World War has killed millions, driving entire species to extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can't afford one, companies build incredibly realistic fakes: horses, birds, cats, sheep...even humans. Rick Deckard is an officially sanctioned bounty hunter tasked to find six rogue androids. They're machines, but look, sound, and think like humans

So yes, I’ve finally read “The novel that inspired Bladerunner” and although BOTH movies are great, the book was far superior. This was my 2nd Philip K. Dick book after A Scanner Darkly and this man’s imagination is astounding. This kind of novel defies understanding. 

One of the biggest themes in the story is empathy, something that distinguishes humans from androids. The novel asks us what deserves our empathy, and twists that in surprising ways. Once we start to see the androids as something akin to human, the book goes a completely different direction.

One of the more interesting aspects of this book was how real animals became pricey commodities and a symbol of status. Decker, the main character, desires a living animal, and he obsesses over it to an almost comical degree. This is where the title comes in, he owns an electric sheep and wonders if the androids have their own humanlike desires. I’d highly recommend this book to any SF fan, even if you’ve already seen the movie. 

Dune Messiah - Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

“Sequels are hard if the first one sets the bar”

After I finished the original “Dune”, a coworker picked this up at a flea market and I thought, why not? The problem with these books is that while reading them, there are many awkward and convoluted sentences that I often won’t understand a scene until after it’s over. At which point I’m fascinated by Herbert’s ability to do that, but also wish I felt more immersed in each individual scene.

Dune Messiah is the 2nd book in the Dune Chronicles, was half the length of the first one and less exciting. I still enjoyed it, and it was fun to read, but I didn’t feel like it was on as grand a scale as the original. I’m now stuck at a weird point where I don’t know if I want to read the other 4+ books in the series or move onto something else.

Overall, I’m impressed that Herbert was able to write Dune in the first place, and then to bang out several other books, all in the same writing style that combines epic scenes with philosophy - it’s clear why these books have sold millions of copies. I think for now, I’m going to read some other stuff and then inevitably make my way back to the Dune Chronicles. Each one ends on such a cliffhanger, it’s almost like it was intentional…

Dune by Frank Herbert

Dune by Frank Herbert

“Less a novel and more like a whole new world”

Set in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which various noble houses control planetary fiefs, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis.

If you want to talk about building new worlds, Frank Herbert absolutely kills it with Dune. There's a good reason why this novel is being made into a film. It's epic, and at around 500 pages, although a little slow in places, the story is just getting started.

Dune has love, hand to hand combat, futuristic technology, planetary battles, weird voice magic, and sandworms - what more could you ask for in a sci-fi novel?

The book takes some time to get used to, because Herbert uses so many adjectives to describe things and those are mixed in with odd names, new planets, made up weapons, and titles that don’t exist in the English language. Once you get accustomed to all of that (or refer to the included appendix) the book is a well-written adventure that kept me engaged from start to finish. Although I highly recommend Dune, I don’t know if I have it in me to finish the five other books in the Dune Chronicles. With that said, I’m looking forward to the movie and hope, as do most other people, that they don’t mess it up too badly.