Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of
Electric Sheep? (Blade Runner)
I'd like to begin with a
close look at Chapter One to define the situation of the novel (time period,
setting, conflicts) and to identify a few of the principal thematic concerns
established through specific language and characterizations.
If all goes well, these
opening concerns might lead to directed discussion of some of the following
issues, which are typically considered to be central to both Do Androids
Dream and Dick's work in general. These issues are listed in no particular
order and may be taken up as our interests direct us.
- Ursula K. Le Guin argues that
science fictions are always about the here and the now. That is, she believes
that science fiction writers are not in the business of prediction, but are in
the business of displacing concerns relevant to our current experience into a
science fictional context in order to hold them up for inspection. How does
Dick employ displacement to direct our attention to issues current to 1960
America and perhaps to our experience today? That is, what is this novel really
- What makes us human? In what ways
does Dick direct us to fundamental definitions of humanity? Do all of the
humans pass the humanity test in this novel? Do all of the androids fail that
test? How do characters like Isidore and the very concept of "specials"
complicate definitions of humanity?
- Why does Dick include Mercer and
Mercerism in the novel? How does Mercer's identity complicate issues of value
and belief? At one point, Isidore directly compares and contrasts Buster
Friendly and Mercer (66). How does this comparison promote the conflict between
the simulated and the real?
By the novel's end. What are we to
believe about the distinction between the artificial and the real? Is there, at
novel's end, anything left to embrace as the truth?