Thursday, 21 April 2016

Dreaming of Electric Sheep?

This is a bit of a different type of post than I’ve wrote before, but I’ve been meaning to start for a while. I am a big book worm, bookaholic, booklover, call it what you want, I love to read. So I want to write more book review style posts and feature books more on my social media as it is something that has always been a big part of my life. Since I was a little girl I always had my nose stuck in a book, one of my most favourite Disney princesses is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. That library though! She was a lucky girl.

I’ve decided to do my first book post not on an individual book, but on an author. Philip K Dick (1928 – 1982) is an American writer who mainly wrote in the science fiction genre. I’ve not read any sci fi books until recently, I think the most I have ever delved into the genre is through movies. It’s always been a something I’ve enjoyed watching though but just not one I’ve ever read. Last year I decided to begin my journey into the realms of speculative fiction with the hugely talented Philip K Dick.

If you have not heard of Philip K Dick before (like me until last year), you most likely will have heard of some of the films that have been based on his books, such as Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. Amazon have made a series on ‘The Man in The High Castle’ not too long ago. I’ve yet to watch this but I can’t wait to see how they adapted it onto screen.

The Man in The High Castle is the most recent Philip K Dick novel I have read. It is set in San Francisco and is based in an alternative world set 15 years after the end of World War Two. In this world Germany and Japan won the war so the two main ruling powers of the world are Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. The story follows Bob Childan (an American antiques shop owner), Frank Frink (a secret Jewish-American jewellery crafter who has just been fired), Mr Tagomi (a high ranking Japanese official), Mr Baynes (a Swedish industrialist) and Julian (Franks ex-wife). Many of the characters in the book read another book called ‘The Grasshopper Lies Heavy’, which Germany have banned reading in the US - it is based on an alternative reality from theirs where the allies won World War Two.

Another book by Philip K Dick that I really enjoyed was ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’. This novel was the basis for the film Blade Runner. It is set in San Francisco, in a post-apocalyptic world where the earth has been damaged by a nuclear war and from that most animal species are either endangered or extinct - so if you own a real animal, not an electric robotic one, it is seen as a sign of high status and wealth. The story follows Rick Deckard, who is a bounty hunter that is given the assignment of killing six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, and Jon Isidore, a man of low IQ who lives among ‘kibble’ and houses the escaped androids. The novel centres on empathy and what it is to be human. To test whether someone is a human or an android they are given an empathy test as androids lack empathy.

What I really enjoy about Philip K Dicks novels is how he deconstructs reality. The characters you follow in his books slowly seem to lose some form of their perceived reality and you begin to see that their world is almost an illusion of their own. Philip K Dick was known to have mental health issues himself and this is reflected in many of the characters from his books. He has written so many novels (44 published) that I have only touched the tip of the iceberg with his work. If you are someone who enjoys or is looking to take that first step into science fiction then I thoroughly recommend reading some of his work. I cannot wait to read more, the next one on my list is ‘Our Friends from Frolix 8’ which follows Nick Appleton, an ‘anxiety-ridden, pill-popping menial labourer’ and Council Chairman Willis Gram, a ‘psionically gifted, despotic oligarch of a planet ruled by the super-intelligent New Men.’

What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of Philip K Dicks work? 

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