I really wanted to enjoy this book, having heard such wonderful things about it. My recent foray into trying to read more science fiction came at a good time—or so I thought. It was with the desire to be entertained that I began Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Sadly, I think my next experience with science fiction will definitely have to be with a feminist author given my problems with Dick.Along the way, I was maddened by how misogynistic the novel is: the many ways in which woman, human or android, are objectified by the male characters is appalling. I can almost imagine Philip K. Dick writing with his dick, as if creating luscious, nubile female androids—almost always discussed in adolescent terms, making the Lolita fantasy that much more disturbing—was his way of working out some kind of interspace sexual fantasy and this book is the by-product. Tricky dick.
While reading, there was one place where Rick Deckard, the bounty hunter, talks with his depressive wife, reminds himself that he can still divorce her, and then he immediately begins to fantasize about how female androids attract him. This is when I almost nearly stopped reading.Or when Deckard tests himself using the fancy android-testing machine in order to see if his disdain for androids has begun to turn into empathy; it would appear that, at least in the case of female androids, it has:Rich said, “A female android.”“Now they’re both up to 4.0 and 6.0 respectively.”And little does Phil Resch, another bounty hunter, realize what he’s putting into motion when he tells Deckard:”Don’t kill her—or be present when she’s killed—and then feel physically attracted. Do it the other way.”Rick stared at him. “Go to bed with her first—”“—and then kill her,” Phil Resch said succinctly.
I found an interesting essay while trying to make it through the tail-end of Do Androids... which discusses misogyny in the film version, Blade Runner: Simon H. Scott’s “Is Blade Runner a Misogynist Text?” I have yet to see the film, and I doubt I will any time soon after finishing the novel, but it is indeed possible that the film uses more film noir conventions and figures like Rachael Rosen are more femme fatale figures in the film, as is the author’s argument against a full-fledged misogynistic reading of the text. However, the novel is not noir in any way, so I wonder if this argument has been made elsewhere with the book—and perhaps other work by Dick—as evidence. It would be something I would like to read, at any rate.I will say that Dick knows how to pace a novel, and it was largely that which kept me reading despite many moments of nausea.Note to picky readers: the word “ersatz” gets used so many times I lost count.