World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal -- the ultimate status symbol in a world all... read more
The novel follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter in the future San Francisco, through one day of his life as he tracks down renegade androids who have assumed human identities. The story explores the idea of human identity based on the quality of empathy—the only thing that distinguishes humans... read more
The novel follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter in the future San Francisco, through one day of his life as he tracks down renegade androids who have assumed human identities. The story explores the idea of human identity based on the quality of empathy—the only thing that distinguishes humans from their uncannily humanoid counterparts.
In the post-apocalyptic universe of the book, Earth has become polluted with toxic dust as a result of World War Terminus, forcing humans to emigrate to other planets such as Mars. As an incentive to leave Earth, humans are given androids as their slaves. However, as the androids become increasingly more intelligent and less discernable from humans, some decide to rise against their masters and attempt to live as humans. These androids must in turn be tracked down and “retired,” a euphemism for their lawful killing.
The society of Earth operates under a belief system called Mercerism, which is based on human empathy. In place of other religious implements, humans use “empathy boxes” to share one another's emotions: to feel absolute empathy with anyone who is using their own box at the same time. Since animal life is scarce due to the post-war fallout, humans keep animals not merely as pets, but as status symbols. However, since real animals are extremely expensive, many people resort to purchasing artificial animals, which are virtually indistinguishable from real animals, to give the appearance of wealth and prosperity.
Deckard, an employee of the San Francisco police department, has been enlisted to retire a group of particularly dangerous androids that have recently escaped to Earth. As Deckard suffers from the unhappiness of an unfulfilling marriage, he is easily susceptible to the wiles of Rachael Rosen, a beautiful female android whom Deckard first believes to be human. She deceives Deckard into falling in love with her, and through his pursuit of the other androids, he becomes confused about humanity, morality, and empathy. He projects his human feelings onto the robots, infusing them with qualities they do not truly possess. This foolish kindness proves to be his downfall when Rachael reveals her true nature by killing Deckard’s black Nubian goat and admitting her plot to turn him against bounty hunting.
The story of J.R. Isidore parallels that of Deckard. Isidore has suffered brain damage as a result of the fallout dust, and cannot qualify to leave Earth because of his disability. He works as a driver for an artificial animal repair. shop. He lives alone and has little contact with other humans, using his empathy box frequently. When Pris Stratton moves into the building, Isidore, overcome with loneliness, attempts to befriend her. Pris, like Rachael, proves to be a runaway android that possesses no human compassion. She cruelly mutilates the spider Isidore has found, which forces him to drown the animal in a desperate attempt to be humane.
Pris and Rachael, along with the other rogue androids, show no empathy for humans, animals, or even for one another. Deckard succeeds in retiring all of the illegal androids making him the "greatest bounty hunter of all time" and earns him a citation from his police department for a record number of kills in one day. Deckard returns home where his wife,Iran, then informs Deckard that a young woman, Rachael Rosen, dragged the goat off the roof killing it. Deckard takes this news well, understanding the android tried to get revenge. Monetary loss instead of real loss, Rachael could have killed Iran. Tired and confused, he travels in his hovercraft to Oregon, an isolated desert where nothing is supposed to live, to think over what he just did. He is then hit by a rock even though he is all alone, a phenomenon he attributes to Mercer, and subsequently has an epiphany about empathy and his own morals leading him to be okay with his lifestyle. He finds a live toad, an animal thought to be extinct. Toads are Mercers favorite animal and are considered the most holy, so Deckard brings it home. Shortly after, Deckard’s wife discovers that the toad is in fact artificial, and orders a pound of electric flies to be feed to it as a surprise for her husband, who is not glad but "prefers" to know the toad is artificial.
“There’s the First Law of Kipple…Kipple drives out nonkipple.”J.R. Isidore
“This rehearsal will end, the performance will end, the singers will die, eventually the last score of the music will be destroyed in one way or another; finally the name “Mozart” will vanish, the dust will have won. If not on this planet, then another. We can evade it awhile.”
“<Deckard> had never thought of this before, the similarity between an electric animal and an andy. The electric animal, he pondered, could be considered a subform of the other, a kind of vastly inferior robot. Or, conversely, the android could be regarded as a highly developed, evolved version of the ersatz animal. Both viewpoints repelled him.”
The old man said, “You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”Highlighted by 151 Kindle customers
Empathy, he once had decided, must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimately, the empathic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated.Highlighted by 98 Kindle customers
You have to be with other people, he thought. In order to live at all.Highlighted by 86 Kindle customers
“Everything is true,” he said. “Everything anybody has ever thought.”Highlighted by 68 Kindle customers
The electric things have their lives, too. Paltry as those lives are.”Highlighted by 61 Kindle customers
“No one can win against kipple,” he said, “except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”Highlighted by 60 Kindle customers
For Rick Deckard an escaped humanoid robot, which had killed its master, which had been equipped with an intelligence greater than that of many human beings, which had no regard for animals, which possessed no ability to feel empathic joy for another life form’s success or grief at its defeat—that, for him, epitomized The Killers.Highlighted by 54 Kindle customers
“Dial 888,” Rick said as the set warmed. “The desire to watch TV, no matter what’s on it.”Highlighted by 54 Kindle customers
“But,” Rick interrupted, “for you to have two horses and me none, that violates the whole basic theological and moral structure of Mercerism.”Highlighted by 52 Kindle customers
Most androids I’ve known have more vitality and desire to live than my wife. She has nothing to give me.Highlighted by 52 Kindle customers
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