I doubt the Web of a Million Lies needs yet more material on Philip K. Dick, so, for now, I won’t put up any more Dick related reviews (and I have a lot of them).
Since a Blade Runner sequel recently came out, I thought I’d look at Dick’s novel and, in future postings, K. W. Jeter’s sequels.
Raw Feed (1999): Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick, 1968.
This is either the second or third time I’ve read this book.
The first time was right before Blade Runner was released, and I was entranced by the plot and action.
This time I noticed more.
I appreciated, as I almost always do, the black humor and skillful characterization and dialogue. I was still affected by the scene where Isidore tries to repair an ailing cat he mistakes for an android, and where Roy Baty tortures a spider. Baty’s casual cruelty was more noticeable on re-reading and, the first time, I missed his mystical preoccupations.
This time around more of a sense of desperation, loneliness, and despair came through.
Deckard just wants (like Isidore) to make a connection with something. When his wife (their fights over the mood organ settings are hilarious) is unavailable, he seeks sex and companionship with android Rachael. Isidore knows Pris is an android but doesn’t care. She is close enough to human to do.
The sense of Deckard being destroyed by his job comes through powerfully. The possibly hallucinatory visions of Mercer tell him that it is the nature of things that he has to do something that corrodes his identity, here the killing of androids he comes to mostly sympathizes with unlike the creepy bounty hunter Phil Resch who likes to kill androids but fears, at one point, that he is an android.
Mercerism is shown to be a fraud, and the androids do come off as at least disturbingly callous and sometimes clinically savage (Batty doesn’t sexually enjoy torturing the spider but derives a little-boy like thrill mingled with curiosity) yet Dick seems to say, with Isidore’s affection for Pris and the comforts of the debunked Mercer and Deckard’s fake toad, that even fake life can provide comfort in the tombworld (a rather gnostic concept) that Mercer, and, ultimately, all of us inhabit as the universe runs down.
I always liked this novel but appreciated it more this time and realized it does make a point and decision about its moral quandaries.