I’ve had a vague project over the past few years to read all of the best Philip K. Dick books. I have just a few left. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was technically a reread, though it must have been more than 25 years ago that I read it. I didn’t like it much then! I had a book of Dick’s stories that I loved, and I think Do Androids was his first novel I attempted. Too weird, sad, slow, and peculiar. (I didn’t like Blade Runner either, at the time.)
I enjoyed it more this time around, though wow, what a bleak world. Dick’s seemingly built-in sexism is more noticeable here than some of his other books, which adds to the strikingly uncomfortable setting. It is impressive how Blade Runner neatly pulled out just one thread of Dick’s big, weird tapestry, but everything ties together so much better with all of the other threads intact: the “mood organs” that let people adjust their minds at will, raising the question of how “real” these people are anyway, the fixation on owning rare live animals that drives the whole plot, the weird and creepy VR religion “Mercerism” that is designed to spread empathy, the way Earth is decaying into “kipple,” Dick’s term for the results of entropy.
I still did find the book weird, sad, slow, and peculiar, but I guess I appreciate those qualities more now?