I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this novel. After reading The Drowned World, my hopes for liking Science Fiction had fallen but when I read the opening sentence of this book I knew it was going to be good.
To sum up:
What was particularly good?: The ideas. It’s one thing to think “What if we had…?” or “What if there were…?” and another thing to actually answer it. The question of androids being so technologically advanced that they can pass and even overtake humans is a popular rising discussion but Dick has managed to create an entirely other world just to address this and it’s so wonderfully done.
What I didn’t enjoy?: This is quite hard to answer because I don’t quite remember a part at which I thought “I don’t like this.” If I had to pick, it would be an element of the plot, so if I said what it was I would be spoiling.
The book begins, “A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard.” The mood organ is the focus of the first chapter and while it never really plays any big role until it returns at the end of the novel it sets up the surroundings. What kind of world do these characters live in? Dick manages to answer this question without long and lengthy descriptions of the actual surroundings but rather by action that takes place.
There is a beautiful balance of dialogue and description throughout the novel that continues to build the world as you read until the very end. Consequently, this makes the world feel familiar, you’re not constantly trying to figure out why things are the way they are, you can accept that this is the world that Dick has created. As it all unfolds you can easily imagine this world playing out in your mind.
Some of the action that takes place isn’t even all that interesting, it’s merely to move the story along but it still provides something as you read and that’s why I very rarely felt like skipping anything. The intense elements are written in a way that’s smooth and clear, reflecting the severity of the situation i.e. life and death – no in between.Finally the ending is one so satisfying. As with any novel there is a sense of reality in it, there is something bitter sweet about the character Deckard’s realisation and like him you feel glad that it’s all finally over.
It’s the basic condition of life to be required to violate our own identity.
My rating: 5/5