"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", the 1968 science-fiction novel by acclaimed author Philip K. Dick, needs no introduction to most science-fiction fans. The book is famous as the inspiration for the 1982 film Blade Runner, as well as being a precursor to cyberpunk, and being one of the key works that turned science-fiction from space opera to the surreal.
The problem is, I could have written that last paragraph without reading the book. "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
", and its popularized version, "Blade Runner", are so famous that I "knew" about the book without reading it. So it sat on my shelf for four years, passed over because I had already read other works by Philip K Dick, and I was already familiar with the book's big tomato surprise.
And then I actually read the book.
Even though I knew the basic outline of the book, it was quite different from what I was expecting. The book does take place in a near future science-fiction setting, mixing detective noir with post-apocalypse, and it is "about" a bounty hunter chasing down androids. But I had no idea of the larger context in which the difference between humans and androids was placed: the idea of empathy, and the odd religion of Mercerism, a religion stressing the need of all sentient beings to ascend together. And the very mood of the book is different from what I expected: despite the setting and subject matter, the book didn't have the "edge" I was expecting, and instead seemed almost dreamy and soft. Even though I knew most of the "facts" of the story, in characterization, plot, setting and mood, it was much different from what I expected.
So, if you are a science-fiction fan who has not read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" because you feel you already know the story, I would state that you owe it to yourself to read the book, and find out just what you have been missing.