#10106 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick.
Philip K. Dick

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

One of Philip K. Dick's most influential works. It is the basis for the classic film, Blade Runner, and it has inspired generations of science fiction and cyberpunk writers since its publication in 1968.  For collectors, it has always been one of Dick's most sought-after titles, and this is the true first edition by Doubleday, a cornerstone of any Philip K. Dick collection. Very difficult to find copies of this edition in fine condition.  Octavo, bound in gray cloth with gold lettering on the spine. Date code "J5" [5th week of 1968] at lower right margin of page 210. [Levack 12a].

Hardcover. First Edition, First Printing. New York: Doubleday, 1968. Pringle, Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (55). #10106.
Fine copy in nearly fine dust jacket with slight wear to extremities mostly to spine ends. A truly exceptional copy of this landmark title.

Additional Details
Originally published in 1968, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has become one of Dick’s best-known works, partly due to the 1982 acclaimed cult film, Blade Runner, which was loosely based on the novel. Directed by Ridley Scott and adapted by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, the film has been hailed for its production design and dark, neo-noir style. It also stars Harrison Ford as the bounty hunter Rick Deckard who is tasked with tracking down six dangerous Nexus-6 androids who have escaped from an off-world colony to Earth. Like the book it is set in a post-apocalyptic future (Los Angeles in the film and San Francisco in the book) where radioactive dust from a nuclear war has contaminated Earth’s atmosphere, leaving most animal species either endangered or extinct. Humans are encouraged to emigrate to off-world colonies where slave androids identical to humans perform most of the manual labor. Some of the characters in both versions are the same, but the plots differ significantly. In the book, Deckard’s character owns an electric sheep but aspires to own a real live animal. Due to the mass extinctions, owning an authentic live animal is highly desirable and a symbol of social status.  As Deckard pursues the escaped androids, he questions his own humanity, including the possibility of whether he himself could be an android. The ethics and philosophical questions surrounding artificial intelligence and what it means to be human are more deeply explored in the novel than in the film. It also explores religious themes, introducing a religious movement called Mercerism which uses "empathy boxes" to link users together inside a virtual reality that simulates a shared experience of the suffering of its leader Wilbur Mercer, who forever attempts to climb up a hill while being hit by falling stones. One can easily make some interesting comparisons between the empathy boxes imagined by Dick and contemporary social media.

Anecdotally, the film’s title Blade Runner, has an interesting origin. In the film, the bounty hunters are called “blade runners” even though this term is never used in Dick’s novel. The term was sourced from a completely different science fiction novel, The Bladerunner, by Allen E. Nourse. Beat author William S. Burroughs wrote a film treatment for Nourse’s book which Fancher (the screenwriter) found. Ridley Scott liked the title and purchased the rights for use in his film. Blade Runner was the first major film based on the work of Philip K. Dick but many more adaptations of his work would follow. Tragically, Dick died shortly before the release of Blade Runner. Just prior he received a private screening of some clips from the film and by all accounts was very pleased with it's look and feel.

David Pringle includes the novel in his Science Fiction: The 100 Best Novels (#55).