"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by Philip K. Dick
Essential dataAuthor: Philip K. Dick
Genres: Science fiction, philosophical novel
Reading started: March 25th, 2016
Current progress: Page 245 of 245 (100%)
Reading ended: April 4th, 2016. This book was successfully finished in 10 days.
Review score: 3.5 of 5
Wikipedia: In post-apocalyptic 1992 (or, in later editions, 2021), after "World War Terminus," the Earth's dust-irradiated atmosphere leads the United Nations to encourage mass emigrations to off-world colonies to preserve humanity's genetic integrity, with the incentive of free personal androids: robot servants identical to humans. On Earth, owning real live animals is a status symbol for keeping up with the Joneses, due to mass extinctions and the accompanying cultural push for greater empathy that has motivated a technology-based religion called Mercerism. Poor people can only afford realistic-looking electric animals, including Deckard, who owns a robotic black-faced sheep. Mercerism uses "empathy boxes" to simultaneously link users to a collective virtual reality of communal suffering, centered on a martyr-like character, Wilbur Mercer, who eternally climbs up a hill while being hit with crashing stones.
Bounty hunter Rick Deckard signs on to a new police mission to earn enough money to buy a live animal to replace his electric sheep, seeking greater existential fulfillment for himself and his depressed wife, Iran. The mission involves hunting down ("retiring") a group of six Nexus-6 androids that violently went rogue after their creation by the Rosen Association. Deckard visits Rosen headquarters in Seattle to confirm the validity of a question-and-answer empathy test: a method for identifying any androids posing as humans. Deckard is greeted by Rachael Rosen, who quickly fails his test. Rachael attempts to bribe Deckard into silence, but he verifies that she is indeed a Nexus-6 android used by Rosen to try to discredit the test.