Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Thanks to the film Blade Runner, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is Dick’s best-known novel. (A tie-in edition was issued in paperback under the title of the film, with Dick’s original title given in small print.) That is ironic because, as is often the case, the screenwriters omitted significant elements of the novel, changed others, and added material of their own.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a postnuclear holocaust novel. This subgenre is one of the most crowded in science fiction, including masterpieces such as A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959), by William M. Miller, Jr., as well as countless forgotten books. Writers from outside science fiction have often contributed to this subgenre too; one notable example is Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker (1982).
Dick’s novel, written in the mid-1960’s and published in 1968, is set in 1992. World War Terminus and the resultant fallout have rendered much of Earth uninhabitable and much of the population sterile. Many of the survivors have emigrated to the barren landscape of Mars. Others, despite the hazards (there is a whole class of people damaged by radiation, known as “specials” or, more popularly, “chickenheads”), have chosen to remain on Earth.
This scenario is familiar enough, but Dick’s way of developing it is characteristically fresh. Postnuclear holocaust tales tend to veer toward cynicism or...
(The entire section is 608 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
World War Terminus has left the Earth a radioactive wreck. Most survivors have emigrated to Mars, where the authorities promise them an easy life with android servants. Only those too poor to emigrate, or who have been genetically damaged by radiation (the chickenheads), remain on Earth. They huddle in scattered population groups; use mood organs that allow them to predetermine how they will feel each day; follow Buster Friendly, who is on television and radio twenty-three hours a day; and practice Mercerism, a universal religion that teaches empathy and community-feeling through repeated images of an old man struggling to climb a barren hillside. Animal life has been more severely affected by the war than has humankind, so social status in this bleak postapocalyptic world is determined by keeping an animal; those who cannot afford an animal keep a robot simulation.
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter whose job is to retire (kill) androids who attempt to escape their servitude on Mars. He and his wife, Iran, have an electric sheep, but they dream of being able to afford a real animal. Deckard gets his chance when six Nexus-6 androids escape to San Francisco. The Nexus-6 is the most advanced android to date, indistinguishable from humans, and it is not at all clear that the standard Voigt-Kampff Empathy Test for identifying androids will work on them. So Deckard must first visit the manufacturers. The first individual on whom he tries the test, Rachael Rosen,...
(The entire section is 805 words.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? takes place in the year 1992, after World War Terminus has spread a cloud of radioactive dust across the globe. Many plant and animal species are extinct, and many of the surviving humans have emigrated to colonies on Mars. The remaining humans are divided between regulars and "specials," people who are either too stupid or too affected by radiation to be allowed to reproduce. As a result of these combined factors, cities are underpopulated and ownership of animals is considered both a status symbol and a sign of righteous empathy. Both real and imitation animals are expensive, with price lists updated monthly. In demand by Martian colonists are androids, manufactured to be as much like humans as possible, both in flesh and in emotion. Colonists are offered custom-designed androids when they emigrate, and the androids serve as slaves. Discontented androids can escape from servitude by killing their masters and then returning to Earth to hide. Bounty hunters from Earth's various police forces are sent to locate these escapees and "retire" them. As the androids have become more human-like, retiring them has become more and more like killing.
The novel opens in the apartment of bounty hunter Rick Deckard and his wife, Iran. As he leaves for work, she tries to decide what mood to "dial up" for herself with their Penfield mood-enhancing machine. Going to his car on the roof, Deckard stops to feed his electronic...
(The entire section is 1549 words.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? takes place in the year 1992, after World War Terminus has spread a cloud of radioactive dust across the globe. Many plant and animal species are extinct, and many of the surviving humans have emigrated to colonies on Mars. The remaining humans are divided between regulars and "specials," people who are either too stupid or too affected by radiation to be allowed to reproduce. As a result of these combined factors, cities are underpopulated and ownership of animals is considered both a status symbol and a sign of righteous empathy. Both real and imitation animals are expensive, with price lists updated monthly. In demand by Martian colonists are androids, manufactured to be as much like humans as possible, both in flesh and in emotion. Colonists are offered custom-designed androids when they emigrate, and the androids serve as slaves. Discontented androids can escape from servitude by killing their masters and then returning to Earth to hide. Bounty hunters from Earth's various police forces are sent to locate these escapees and "retire" them. As the androids have become more humanlike, retiring them has become more and more like killing.
The novel opens in the apartment of bounty hunter Rick Deckard and his wife, Iran. As he leaves for work, she tries to decide what mood to "dial up" for herself with their Penfield mood enhancing machine. Going to his car on the roof, Deckard...
(The entire section is 1558 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 1
Rick Deckard: A bounty hunter of androids for the San Francisco Police Department.
Iran: Rick Deckard’s wife; she rarely leaves their apartment.
Buster Friendly: A popular TV personality whose show runs continuously in the homes of most humans residing on Earth.
Bill Barbour: Rick Deckard’s neighbor; he owns a coveted Percheron mare and keeps it in a stall next to the pen where Rick keeps his mechanized sheep.
Rick Deckard wakes to the automatic alarm provided by his Penfield mood organ. His wife, Iran, lies in her bed, refusing to get up. Rick attempts to persuade Iran that she should set her mood organ high enough so that she’ll want to be awake. In response, Iran orders Rick to keep his "crude cop’s hand" away. They argue about the nature of Deckard’s job as a bounty hunter and about the ease with which Iran spends Deckard’s bounty money despite her complaints.
The argument then turns to the subject of the mood setting which Iran has chosen on her mood organ. Iran explains that she has purposely set her mood organ for depression and explains that she recently became concerned one afternoon when she became aware of the disturbing silence of their building, but she wasn’t emotionally affected by it. This silence was due to a significant decline in the human population of Earth, and Iran realized that she wasn’t able to respond emotionally due to the setting on her mood organ. Iran says that this inability to feel and react to the absence of life is unhealthy and was once considered an "absence of appropriate affect," so she decided to experiment the settings. Deckard and Iran continue to discuss Iran’s choice of moods when she finally argues that she doesn’t feel like dialing anything into her mood organ. Deckard responds that she should set the dial for a mood that will make her want to dial a different mood. Iran refuses, claiming that setting the dial to a mood that will make her want to re-set the dial will only perpetuate her feeling of false emotion. Deckard then sets his own dial for "a creative and fresh attitude towards his job."
After quickly eating breakfast and dressing in his requisite radiation-proof lead codpiece, Deckard ventures up to the rooftop of his apartment building, where he and all other tenants house their animals, both real and mechanized. Deckard doesn’t...
(The entire section is 1448 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 2
John R Isidore: A special; a human whose mental faculties have been deteriorated by the radioactive fallout.
Hannibal Sloat: Isidore’s boss at the Van Ness Pet Hospital.
Wilbur Mercer: The founder of Mercerism; an elderly man.
The killers: an unidentified entity equated with "evil" in reference to the persecution of Wilbur Mercer.
John Isidore is the only tenant remaining in an unoccupied apartment building in an abandoned suburb of San Francisco after WWT, the war that has resulted in the massive emigration of humans from Earth to colonies on Mars and other locations in the solar system in response to devastating radioactive fallout. As incentive to immigrate to the new colonies, the UN is providing each human emigrant with a customized android, or organic robot, as their own servant. Humans who choose to stay on Earth run the risk of sustaining biological damage as a result of radiation, and, thus, becoming classified as “specials.” Once classified as a special, a human becomes a second-class citizen.
Isidore is listening to an interview on his TV while he prepares to go to work at the Van Ness Pet Hospital for mechanical pets. The interviewee is a new arrival to New New York on Mars who discusses having a sense of “dignity” at owning a servant and no longer worrying about her and husband becoming classified as specials. Isidore has been classified as a “special,” someone who has failed the minimal mental faculties test. The continual promotion of emigration by the government-sponsored television station (to which Isidore appeals as his only source of companionship in his abandoned dwelling) causes him anxiety. Once he turns his television off, Isidore is surrounded by silence that pervades every aspect of his dwelling and the deteriorating possessions contained within it.
In an effort to cope with his feelings of anxiousness and overwhelming solitude, Isidore turns to his “empathy box,” a machine that gives users with the image of an elderly man struggling up a barren hillside. During this strenuous climb, the view of the elderly man, Wilbur Mercer, becomes Isidore’s; Isidore experiences Mercer's trials during the climb. The slow and unsteady climb becomes more treacherous as a rock, thrown by unidentified antagonists, hits Isidore in the arm. Upon narrowly missing the second thrown...
(The entire section is 978 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 3
Harry Bryant: Police Inspector with the San Francisco Police Department.
Dave Holden: chief bounty hunter with the San Francisco Police Department.
Ann Marsten: Rick Deckard’s secretary.
Miss Wild: switchboard operator for the San Francisco Police Department who relays information to Deckard’s secretary.
Dr. McRae: veterinarian at the false animal shop where Rick Deckard purchased his ersatz sheep.
On his way to work, Deckard stops to window shop at a large pet store where a rare and, thus, expensive ostrich is for sale in the window. Deckard admires the ostrich, but he knows that he isn’t able to afford such a luxury.
When Deckard arrives at the Hall of Justice, his boss, Inspector Bryant, arranges for a meeting in the office of Dave Holden, the San Francisco Police Department’s chief bounty hunter who was recently attacked and seriously injured by an android. Ann Marsten, Deckard's secretary, stops Deckard and fills him in with news regarding Holden’s encounter with a Nexus-6 android and mentions that the Russians filed a formal complaint against the manufacturer of the Nexus-6 android, the Rosen Association.
With every new android model, colonial police agencies are forced to update testing that enables them to differentiate humans from androids; as the androids’ brain unit models become more highly developed, testing becomes increasingly difficult. While Deckard looks through the data files for the Nexus-6 androids, he realizes that this specific model of android surpasses the intellectual capacities of most humans who have been classified as specials. He notes that the theological movement known as Mercerism, and its inherent concept of empathy, remains unintelligible to androids regardless of their intellectual capacity. The Voigt Empathy Test, and its updated version, the Vogt-Kampff, the most current methods of testing, relies on this defect, present in all androids, and has thus far proven to be failsafe.
Mention of the Voigt-Kampff Test leads Deckard to consider his justification for retiring, or killing, androids. He summarizes the main theory that is fundamental to the widely popular theology known as Mercerism, through which all humans share in each other’s victories and defeats. He can differentiate androids from humans because of the android’s inability...
(The entire section is 740 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 4
Max Polokov: the Nexus-6 android that injured Dave Holden.
Lurie Kampff: a psychologist who wrote the influential article, Role-taking Blockage in the Undeteriorated Schizophrenic.
Rachel Rosen: employee of the Rosen Association; niece of Eldon Rosen.
Eldon Rosen: senior representative for the Rosen Association.
In his meeting with Bryant, Deckard is notified of his next mission involving the retirement of Max Polokov, one of eight Nexus-6 androids that recently immigrated to earth illegally. Deckard is informed that Holden was able to test and retire two of the eight illegal androids before being injured by Polokov. Bryant orders Deckard to travel to Seattle to visit the Rosen Association, manufacturers of Nexus-6 androids, where he will administer the Voigt-Kampff Test to a series of subjects. A memo by the W.P.O in Russia has instigated the order for such testing.
In the memo, a group of Leningrad scientists identify the possibility that a small number of mentally ill humans would not pass the Voigt-Kampff Test and, as a result, would be perceived as androids. The psychiatrists are requesting that testing be done on schizophrenic humans in an attempt to prove the legitimacy of their speculations. Bryant and Deckard discuss this possibility, as discussed in Leningrad psychologist Lurie Kampff’s article, "Role-taking Blockage in the Undeteriorated Schizophrenic." Although Deckard believes in the accuracy of the current testing scale, Bryant identifies the need to address concerns concerning the accuracy of the Voigt-Kampff Test on androids. Bryant informs Deckard that the test subjects will consist of both humans and Nexus-6 androids, and that it is his responsibility to prove or disprove the accuracy of the current testing methods based on his test results.
Rachel Rosen greets Deckard when he arrives at the Rosen Association Building in Seattle. They make their way across the rooftop and begin to discuss the significance of his visit when Deckard becomes distracted by a vast collection of animals situated in pens. Rachel assures him that all of the animals owned by the Rosen Association are real.
After this brief distraction, Rachel leads Deckard into the Association building where they continue to discuss the nature of Deckard’s visit. Eldon Rosen, Rachel Rosen’s uncle, soon...
(The entire section is 643 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 5
Deckard applies the various components of his testing equipment to Rachel Rosen. He informs the Rosens that he’ll be asking questions involving a variety of social situations, but that only her involuntary eye muscle and capillary reactions will be measured. During the questioning, Deckard realizes that Rachel Rosen’s verbal responses do not reflect her uncontrollable physical responses. She is physically unaffected by questions involving animal cruelty, although her verbal responses are seemingly well rehearsed and appropriately stated. Partway through the questioning, Deckard quits and states that he has concluded that she is indeed an android. Rachel and her uncle argue that the Voigt-Kampff Test is incorrect, and that she is a human who was raised on a ship for the majority of her young life and is, thus, incapable of responding to the test in the same way as other human subjects. The ensuing discussion then focuses on the issue of whether or not the Voigt-Kampff Test would misclassify an android as human or vice versa. At this point Deckard realizes that he has been videotaped, and that his mission at the Rosen Association has failed to conclusively determine the validity of the current methods of testing because of the incorrect results of his session with Rosen.
Realizing his failure, Deckard is confronted with a proposition made by the Rosens where he is invited to accept a female owl as a bribe in exchange for Deckard falsifying the conclusiveness of the Voigt-Kampff Test. This bribe ensures that the Rosen Association would be able to continue to manufacture the Nexus-6 model of androids while the colonial police departments would be able to continue in their application of the Voigt-Kampff Test on androids. Rather than accepting the bribe, Deckard asks for a bone marrow test to determine whether or not Rachel Rosen is indeed human. After Rachel Rosen declines his request, she returns again to owl. It is at this moment when Deckard realizes that Rachel Rosen’s language involving the animal, calling the owl an “it” rather than referring to the type and sex of the animal, incriminates her towards actually being an android. He requests one more question from the Voigt-Kampff scale of testing. She reluctantly agrees. When Deckard mentions that his briefcase is made of human baby hide, Rachel Rosen’s physical response comes too late, and Deckard is confident that she is in fact an android....
(The entire section is 702 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 6
Pris Stratton: a new tenant in Isidore’s building who turns out to be an android.
Isidore makes his way to the apartment where he can hear the sounds of Buster Friendly announcing his upcoming exposé on a television. Isidore’s knock on the apartment door is answered by the immediate silencing of the television. Confident that someone is in the apartment, Isidore announces himself. In response, a timid female opens the door. Sensing her fear and timidity, Isidore notes that she must be startled at the realization that she is not the only tenant in the building. Isidore’s excitement at finally having a neighbor seems to restore confidence in the female. She becomes visibly relaxed after Isidore assures her that he is the only other tenant in the building.
Isidore awkwardly attempts to make conversation by asking her for her opinions on Buster Friendly. She responds that she doesn’t know who he is and then recoils at her own response. Finding it strange that anyone on Earth was unaware of Friendly, Isidore asks where she came from. She doesn’t offer an answer but claims that she’ll be ready for company at a later time, after she’s had the chance to move in. Isidore offers his help with this task, but she declines and insists that she’ll gather items from the abandoned apartments within the building. Isidore cautions her against doing this due to the concept of "kipple" a belief that the useless objects left over from the evacuation of Earth will eventually outnumber the items still treasured by its inhabitants. Isidore claims that he is constantly struggling against the “kipple-ization” of his own apartment, and that simply borrowing items from other apartments will only result in the defeat of this struggle. He compares this to the struggle inherent in Mercerism to overcome the inclination of the universe towards ultimate deterioration. The female remarks that she doesn’t see the correlation between the two, which prompts Isidore to ask whether or not she has an empathy box. To this the female slowly responds that she left this possession behind when she moved in the hopes of finding one in her new apartment. Isidore finds her lack of attachment to the empathy box strange and explains that the empathy box is the only way to make real contact with other humans regardless of whether or not a person is considered to be a special. The...
(The entire section is 669 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 7
Amanda Werner: a perpetual guest on Buster Friendly’s television show.
Titus Corning : U.N. Secretary General.
Milt Borogrove : a repairman at the Van ness Pet Hospital.
Mrs. Pilsen: cat owner.
Ed Pilsen: Mrs. Pilsen’s husband.
Isidore mulls over the recent interaction with the woman as he makes his way back to his apartment. He wonders why she seems so strange; she wasn’t aware of Friendly, and she was inconsistent with her name. Isidore concludes the she must be in need of help and leaves for another day as driver for the Van Ness Pet Hospital.
Isidore’s first pick-up of the day is a malfunctioning cat. He keeps it in a dust-proof carrying cage in the back of the truck. The cat is making disturbing sounds akin to those that a real cat would make if it were sick and dying. Isidore concludes that its ten-year battery must be shorting out, and he stops to recharge the cat. Isidore is amazed at how realistic the mechanized animal is; its disease circuits continue to malfunction as the cat wheezes and gurgles. Isidore tries to locate the control panel and quick-charge battery panels but is unable to find either. As the cat’s behavior continues to deteriorate, Isidore decides that it is best to detach a battery cable so that it can be recharged back at the shop. As Isidore runs his hands along the spine of the animal, he realizes that the cables are not there. He gives up any further searching after the cat ceases to function and heads to the Van ness Pet Hospital.
On his way to the animal hospital, Isidore considers finding another job, one that isn’t as disturbing as his present occupation that involves dealing with the life-like malfunctioning of ersatz animals. He attributes his deteriorated mental capabilities to the fact that neither his boss, Hannibal Sloat, nor his co-worker, Milt Borogrove, are ever as affected by ersatz animal malfunctions as he is. For consolation he turns on his radio to listen to Friendly continual interview of Amanda Werner, a television and radio personality who holds celebrity status despite never actually having worked on any projects. As Isidore listens to the radio, he begins to wonder how Friendly is capable of simultaneously hosting both television and radio programs, and he ponders how Werner never tires or loses her ability to maintain a constant...
(The entire section is 1128 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 8
Sandor Kadalyi: a Soviet cop from the W.P.O.
Mr. Ackers: personnel manager at the Bay Area Scavengers Company.
Luba Luft: an android posing as an opera singer with the San Francisco Opera.
After returning from his mission at the Rosen Association headquarters in Seattle, Deckard parks his hovercar on the roof of the San Francisco Hall of Justice and heads directly for Bryant’s office. Bryant gives Deckard the details on the whereabouts of Deckard’s first Nexus-6 target, Polokov, who is apparently mimicking a special and working for the Bay Area Scavengers Company. Bryant informs Deckard that Sandor Kadalyi, a Soviet cop sent by the Russian W.P.O., will be accompanying him on his mission to retire his second target, Miss Luba Luft. Deckard questions the involvement of the W.P.O. in San Francisco police matters, but Bryant eases Deckard’s concerns by explaining that the W.P.O. has an intense interest in the Nexus-6 android, and that Deckard is not expected to share the bounty money earned for the retirement of the android.
Deckard unsuccessfully attempts to locate Polokov, first at the Scavenger’s Company, where Polokov has not shown up for work, then at Polokov’s apartment, which is run-down and completely abandoned.
From his hovercar on the roof of Polokov’s apartment building, Deckard places a call to Bryant back at the San Francisco Hall of Justice. They discuss Polokov’s disappearance and agree that Kadalyi will meet Deckard at his current location so they can go together on Deckard’s next mission to locate Miss Luba Luft, an opera singer with the San Francisco Opera Company.
While waiting for Kadalyi to arrive, Deckard receives a call from Rachel Rosen who offers to help Deckard in his mission to retire the remaining escaped Nexus-6 androids. After ending the call, Deckard ponders the absurdity of an android is offering to help retire androids.
Kadalyi arrives in a hovercar taxi. Deckard notices that Kadalyi is wearing an unusual model of handgun, one that Deckard hasn’t seen before. When he asks about it, Kadalyi responds that his gun is from Mars. Deckard realizes that Kadalyi is actually Polokov. A scuffle ensues and Deckard fires his old-fashioned .38 magnum into Polokov’s head. Deckard then phones Bryant and notifies him that he has just retired Polokov.
(The entire section is 740 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 9
Officer Crams: a police officer called by Luba Luft to arrest Deckard.
Deckard arrives at the opera house in time to catch part of a rehearsal for "The Magic Flute." While listening, Deckard falls into deep introspection about his job. He concludes that he is actually expediting the inevitable end, or decay, of everything that now exists. Deckard eventually reaches the conclusion that he is a “part of the form-destroying process of entropy,” as a destroyer of androids, the very thing that the Rosen Association exists to create.
Deckard realizes that one of the main characters of the opera is Miss Luba Luft, his next target. He is pleasantly surprised at the quality of Luft’s voice and decides to wait until the end of the rehearsal so that he can approach her with the Voigt-Kampff Test in her dressing room. After the conductor announces a break, Deckard heads to Luft’s dressing room, where he finds her studying her part. Deckard introduces himself and announces that he is there to administer the Voigt-Kampff to her. She responds by claiming that she’s not an android, and that if there were an android in the cast she would be more than happy to help Deckard retire it. Deckard discusses androids with Luft while he sets up his test apparatus. Before Deckard can begin the test, Luft interrupts to ask if Deckard is willing to take the test. She explains that she is skeptical of Deckard’s claim to be a police officer and wants to be sure of who, or what, he is. Deckard declines and begins the test.
Luft avoids answering questions by making inquiries of her own. This inconclusive and confusing question and answer session ends when Luft accidentally knocks part of the apparatus away from her face. Frustrated, Deckard bends to retrieve the item from underneath a dresser and stands up to find that Luft is pointing a laser tube at his face. She claims she believes Deckard is a sexual deviant and, to Deckard’s relief, places a call to the police department.
A few minutes after Luft places the call, Officer Crams arrives. He requests Deckard’s identification and denies that he’s ever heard of Deckard or Deckard’s supervisor, Inspector Bryant. Deckard accuses the officer of being an android and reaches for the vidphone to make a call to Bryant. While Deckard is talking to Bryant on the vidphone, Crams questions Luft. Bryant...
(The entire section is 770 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 10
George Gleason: bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department.
Phil Resch: bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police Department.
Officer Garland: police inspector for the San Francisco Police Department.
Miss French: lab worker for the San Francisco Police Department.
Crams books Deckard at the Hall of Justice on Lombard. Deckard asks himself how both the Lombard and the Mission police departments can co-exist without either office being aware of the other. Crams orders the performance of a bone marrow test on the corpse found in Deckard’s hovercar to determine whether or not it is actually an android. As Crams leads Deckard down the hallway, a plainclothes police officer stops Deckard, grabs his briefcase, and inquires about his arrest. He asks if Deckard has ever heard of Phil Resch and George Gleason, both bounty hunters. Deckard maintains the he has not. The plain clothes officer then asks if Deckard is an android because it has happened in the past that escaped androids have posed as out-of-state bounty hunters and arrived at the station in pursuit of a suspect. Deckard denies that he is an android and offers to take the Voigt-Kampff Test. Deckard then requests a phone call to his wife. Deckard dials his number, but a woman he has never seen before answers the phone. Confused, Deckard hangs up.
The plainclothes officer then leads Deckard into his office and introduces himself as Garland. Garland has never heard of the Voigt-Kampff Test method and asks Deckard to explain the test. After hearing Deckard’s explanation, Garland explains that according to the information contained in Deckard’s briefcase, he is the next target. Based on this finding, Garland calls one of his bounty hunters from the department into his office to see if Deckard appears on their list of androids.
When Resch enters Garland’s office, he is handed Deckard’s files. Resch is immediately aware that Garland is the next android on Deckard’s list. Resch discusses with Deckard the possibility of Polokov being an android. He states that he has often thought that one of the best hiding places for an android would be as a higher-ranking police official. This draws the attention to Garland who himself has never had to take any diagnostic test to prove himself human. The tension is broken with a call from a lab worker, Miss...
(The entire section is 821 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 11
Garland claims that he already knows the results of the testing to which he and bounty hunter Phil Resch are about to be subjected. While Resch is away, retrieving his apparatus for the Boneli Reflex-Arc Test, Garland pulls a laser tube at Deckard. Deckard explains that killing him would not relieve Garland of his obligation to take the test, and this prompts Garland to lower the laser tube. Garland explains that Resch is an unsuspecting android, and that he knows each of the other androids on Deckard’s list because they all arrived together on the same ship from Mars. According to Garland, Resch stayed behind in order to receive a synthetic memory system, which is the reason Resch is unaware of his own status as an android. Garland and Deckard discuss the possible reaction Resch will have when he is informed of his status. Garland then declares that Polokov came to Earth earlier than the rest, perhaps with a separate group, because Polokov was different and seemed to have had a brain-type that was unfamiliar even to his (Garland’s) own group of androids. Deckard asks about the confusing phone call to his wife. Garland explains that the department protects itself by running on a closed loop that is cut off from the rest of the city.
Resch returns to Garland’s office with his equipment. Before he can set it up, Garland reaches towards Resch with a tiny laser tube. Both bounty hunters react by rolling to the ground; Resch, on his way down, manages to fire his own beam precisely into Garland’s head. Deckard informs Resch that the building is infested with androids, and they devise an escape plan that involves propping Garland up at his desk and exiting the building with Deckard playing the detainee who is cuffed to bounty hunter Resch.
On their way out of the Hall of Justice, Resch expresses his astonishment at having never considered the possibility of androids infiltrating his department. He and Deckard ponder the timeline involved in the infiltration on the way to Resch’s hovercar, and they examine two possibilities that either the real Garland was replaced three months ago when the androids arrived, or that Resch himself has been impregnated with false memory, an option only accurate if Resch himself is an android.
As they depart for the opera house, Resch asks Deckard if he would be willing to test him. Deckard tries to redirect the topic to their present mission of...
(The entire section is 554 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 12
As Resch and Deckard make their way to Luft, Resch continues to discuss the possibility that he's an android. When they arrive, Resch asks Deckard if he’s ever known of an android to own a pet. Deckard responds that he is only aware of two instances in which androids have owned pets. In each case the android has failed to keep the animal alive because of the lack of genuine nurturing provided by the androids. Resch then inquires about whether or not his pet squirrel would require such nurturing because he is only a rodent.
Resch and Deckard spot Luft and approach quietly. Luft reacts with surprise at seeing Deckard, whom she thought was arrested. Deckard introduces her to Resch and explains that both Officer Crams and Inspector Garland were androids, and that the police department that Luft called was an organizing agency for the illegal immigration of androids, an agency willing to go as far as hiring a human bounty hunter for their retirement missions. Luft then adamantly claims that Resch is actually an android. Resch restrains himself and says that he will deal with that issue at a later time.
The bounty hunters then head for Resch’s hovercar, holding Luft between them. As they near a museum gift kiosk, Luft asks the bounty hunters to buy her a print of the painting she was admiring when they caught her, Edvard Munch’s "Puberty." Because the kiosk doesn’t carry prints of this particular painting, Deckard decides to purchase a book of Munch’s collected works. Luft responds to this act of kindness by announcing that an android would be incapable of such an act. As they enter the elevator, Luft continues to proclaim how much she dislikes androids and consciously attempts to imitate humans, whom she considers to be superior life forms. She then baits Resch by inquiring as to whether or not he feels the same way. With this, Resch can no longer control his anger and goes for his laser tube. Deckard attempts to stop him, but Resch wins the struggle and fires at Luft in the elevator. The missed attempt to retire Luft causes her to scream violently, to which Deckard responds by firing his own laser at her with dead accuracy. Deckard then uses his laser to destroy the book that lay beside Luft’s corpse.
Resch begins to question why Deckard would needlessly destroy the book when Deckard interrupts to ask Resch whether or not he believes that androids have souls. The two bounty...
(The entire section is 1325 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 13
Irmgard Baty: Pris Stratton’s friend from Mars; wife of Roy Baty.
Roy Baty: Pris Stratton’s friend from Mars; husband of Irmgard Baty.
Isidore excitedly heads home after his eventful day at work. He has purchased some rare and expensive food items from a black-market grocery store bean curd, ripe peaches and soft cheese all of which cost him two weeks’ worth of pay. He has also retrieved an extremely rare bottle of wine from a safety deposit box at the Bank of America.
When he arrives at his apartment building, Isidore heads straight for Pris Stratton's apartment. She answers the door and notes that Isidore sounds more “grown up” than he did in their previous encounter. Isidore remarks that this is simply a result of him taking care of routine matters at work and that he has with him some desirable food items that he hoped that they could use to make dinner together. Stratton notices the food items and becomes visibly excited. Immediately after her initial response, however, she returns to her original lifeless demeanor. Isidore notes this and asks Stratton why her mood has so quickly changed. Stratton responds by saying that the precious food items will be wasted on her and declines to explain further. She thanks Isidore for bringing food to her apartment but then asks him to leave. Isidore states that he thinks the reason Pris seems so depressed is because she lacks friends. Stratton explains that she does have friends, but that bounty hunters have killed most of them. Isidore doesn’t know what a bounty hunter is, so Stratton explains. Isidore states that murder goes against the primary ethical concept of Mercerism and he has difficulty understanding why a bounty hunter would be coming after her. He then offers to protect her by buying a laser gun and leaving his job. Stratton thanks him and explains that the bounty hunters have already gotten the others: Polokov, Garland, Luba and Hasking. She mentions two more names, Roy and Irmgard Baty, and states that they should have already gotten in touch with her, if they were even still alive.
Stratton then starts pacing about the apartment and comments on a verbal mistake Isidore made when he began talking about the food. She states that it is the same type of slip made by androids. She explains that she knows about androids because she had just come from New New York, Mars,...
(The entire section is 678 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 14
The three friends, Stratton, Roy and Irmgard Baty, huddle together for a private conversation while Isidore watches uncomfortably. Stratton introduces everyone and Isidore confirms that Roy and Irmgard are indeed from Mars. Isidore explains that he lives upstairs, and Roy responds by confessing that he had assumed Stratton and Isidore were living together. Roy turns to Stratton and announces that Polokov has been killed. He then lists the others who have been also been killed. Irmgard then declares that they are the only ones remaining. Roy describes how a bounty hunter named Holden almost got Polokov, but that Polokov managed to injure Holden before escaping. Irmgard then interjects to provide a summary of the day’s events involving the new bounty hunter, Deckard, and his retirement of the Garland and Luba. Stratton nervously inquires about whether or not this bounty hunter has their names. Roy responds that the bounty hunter probably has them on his list and that this is the reason he and Irmgard have come to find Pris.
The discussion then turns towards the topic of Stratton moving in with Isidore because he would offer her some protection. Stratton refuses to move in with a chickenhead. Roy then explains that Stratton should move in with Isidore and he and Irmgard will stay in Stratton ’ apartment. According to Roy, this will enable him to hook up a system of security alarms and two-way bugs so all of them can hear each other inside the two apartments. Roy then speculates that the reason they haven’t been killed already is because the bounty hunter doesn’t know their location. Isidore interrupts with the suggestion that Stratton do exactly as Roy has ordered, and Isidore offers to take some vacation time away from work so he can stay home with all of them. Isidore then imagines that a bounty hunter must be an emotionless, dark being who lacks a face; a machine-like being that is replaced by another, almost immediately, if it gets killed. Isidore silently questions why the police are incapable of taking care of such a being. He then considers the possibility that the three people in his company must have committed some sort of crime.
Roy and Irmgard decide that the next course of action should be to hook up Roy’s security devices and have Stratton collect some items to take with her to Isidore’s apartment, a proposal to which Stratton now agrees. While Stratton is gathering...
(The entire section is 1036 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 15
The androids have a vote amongst themselves to determine where they should hide. Roy votes to kill Isidore and move on to a new location. Stratton then offers her vote to stay put, adding that Isidore’s knowledge of their status as androids is insignificant compared to his value to them as a human. She continues to argue that the reason the other androids were discovered might be due to the fact that it is impossible to live amongst humans without being discovered. Roy responds that confiding in even one, special human might have been the cause of their demise. Irmgard then heatedly responds that it is probably their superior intellect that makes them stand out amongst humans. The discussion ends when Roy pessimistically agrees to stay put. Isidore then solemnly offers his best effort to make their stay pleasant.
On his way home from work that evening, Deckard heads towards the area of town known as “animal row,” where dealers and shops display animals in huge glass windows. He pauses at a display when a salesman approaches and asks Deckard if he sees anything he likes. Deckard responds that he has 3,000 dollars to spend, and asks about a family of rabbits. The salesman responds that with a down payment of 3,000 dollars, Deckard would be able to afford something better, like a goat. He tells Deckard that he looks like a man who deserves something in the higher price range and that rabbits are too common. The salesman continues to sell the idea of a goat to Deckard by claiming that goats are special because of their ability to eat almost anything without becoming sick, and that the female goat is a particularly good value to a serious animal owner. At the mention of the goat being female, Deckard brings out his Sidney’s catalog and looks up the price. The salesman then inquires whether or not Deckard intends to make a cash deal or trade in a used animal. Deckard declares that he will be paying cash, and the salesman then scribbles an offer onto a slip of paper and hands it to Deckard. They negotiate a price, and Deckard signs a payment contract. He then leaves the shop with the goat. As he heads home he considers the transaction and decides that after his day with Resch, the purchase of the goat is the only way he could muster back his self-confidence and continue with his job.
When he arrives at home, Deckard invites Iran to the rooftop for a surprise. She immediately suspects...
(The entire section is 1928 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 16
As he waits at the hotel for Rosen, Deckard reads the profiles of two of the remaining three androids. Roy Baty was posing as a pharmacist on Mars, and Deckard contemplates the androids’ difficult and laborious jobs on Mars as manual laborers for the humans and considers their illegal flight from the outpost as a probable attempt to achieve independence from their servile positions. Baty had also served as a leader of the escaped androids, organizing their flight and administering drugs that he believed would allow them to share in an experience similar to that of the empathy box. Deckard feels empathetic towards his attempt to share in an experience of which androids are mechanically incapable, but this feeling of empathy quickly fades as Deckard continues to read about the android's murder of humans in response to his failed attempt at fusion.
Rosen swings open the door of the hotel room where Deckard is waiting and pulls a bottle of pre-war bourbon out of her purse. Deckard tells her that the most dangerous of the eight androids is still alive and hands her the files on them. She reads them over then unsteadily tells Deckard that he might be surprised by the third android on the list. He asks her why, and Rosen ignores his question. Instead, she opens the bourbon. Rosen then reminds Deckard that he promised to give up on his mission if she met him that night at the hotel.
Deckard continues to press Rosen on the android. Rosen removes her jacket.
Deckard sits next to Rosen on the bed and takes her hand. Rosen tells him that the third android, Stratton Stratton, is the same type as her, and that they will probably look identical. Rosen speculates that Deckard would have gone mad at the site of the android had he not already been told about her own status as an android. She then mentions that she knows that the remaining three androids are probably hiding together, following Roy's directions for a planned final defense against retirement, and that she doesn’t know if she can handle witnessing Stratton’s retirement. Deckard then kisses her. Rosen continues to say the she feels something for Stratton because of their commonalities. Deckard offers the term “empathy” to help her describe her feelings. Rosen agrees but then says that she feels a loss with the knowledge that she is just a representation of one type of android, a type of which many exist. In an attempt to console her,...
(The entire section is 1128 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 17
Oscar Scruggs: guest on the “Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends” show.
Deckard enjoys a cup of coffee while Rosen showers. Rosen tells Deckard that he made a great deal when he accepted her offer. She claims that androids are incapable of controlling their physical and sensual urges and that Deckard probably knew that when he agreed to sleep with her. Rosen asks Deckard if he enjoyed himself and if he would ever go to bed with an android again. Deckard says that he would sleep with another android only if it was a female that resembled her. Rosen and Deckard then discuss the lifespan of an android. Deckard confirms that androids exist for about four years before they biologically wear down, and that she probably has two more years to go.
The two go to Deckard’s hovercar. As they discuss their relationship, Deckard concludes that he doesn’t want to continue to retire androids now that's he's met Rosen. Rosen assures Deckard that the trip they are about to take to meet Baty will not be wasted because Deckard will be meeting a “wonderful, spiritual man.” She says that the Rosen Association tried to intercept Deckard when they became aware of Holden’s list; when the first two attempts failed, they simply waited for Deckard to call. Rosen tells him that she was very close to Luba Luft, and asks Deckard if he liked her. Deckard explains that it was Resch who retired Luft. Deckard wonders aloud if the incident at the hotel with Rachel was set-up ahead of time by the Rosen Association. Rosen tells Deckard that the Association has been trying to reach bounty hunters in the U.S. and the Soviet Union and that this method had been successful. Deckard then responds by saying that he isn’t sure that it has worked in his case, and Rosen replies that she knew when she saw the look of sadness on his face that he wouldn’t be able to continue to retire androids. Deckard asks how many times Rachel has been involved in this type of situation, to which she responds, “Nine times.”
Deckard then veers his hovercar towards the ground telling Rosen that he is going to kill her then continue in his mission to retire the other remaining androids. Rosen claims that she is the legal property of the Association and that Deckard isn’t allowed to kill her. He replies that if he is able to retire her, then he knows he will be able to retire the...
(The entire section is 764 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 18
Mr. Wade Cortot: a former special-effects man who once worked in Hollywood.
Mr. Al Jarry: an actor who portrays Wilbur Mercer.
Stratton asks Isidore to retrieve the rest of her belongings from the apartment below his, including her television so she can listen to Friendly’s important announcement. Isidore explains that his television is only able to receive a government channel, and Roy Baty explains that they are only interested in watching Buster Friendly's show.
Isidore reaches Stratton’s apartment and unplugs the television. The silence that results begins to disturb Isidore, and he concludes that people must live amongst others in order to “live at all” and that he is now dependant upon the three androids in the apartment above. Isidore brings the television to the upstairs apartment and begins to discuss Buster Friendly with Roy, who abruptly tells Isidore to stop talking and turn on the television. Isidore then goes back downstairs to retrieve more of Stratton’s belongings. On the stairs, Isidore notices a spider and instantly catches it in his plastic medicine bottle, an item he keeps on his belt for this type of rare opportunity.
Friendly is beginning his important announcement on the television when Isidore enters the room and announces that he has caught a spider. Stratton asks to see the spider and Roy orders them not to speak while Buster is on the television. Stratton claims to have never seen a real spider and asks Isidore why it needs so many legs. Stratton states that she doesn’t think it actually needs all of those legs, and Irmgard concurs and suggests that they cut four of the legs off to see if it’s true. Irmgard and Stratton then enter the kitchen with the spider and, using a pair of Irmgard’s scissors, begin to cut the spider's legs off. Isidore begs the androids to stop.
Friendly explains that his research staff has discovered that the backdrop behind Mercer is artificial. Friendly then displays blown-up images of Mercer’s backdrop and a “specialist” highlights details of brush strokes, indicating that the landscape is fabricated. Friendly then continues to claim that the authenticity of the weeds and rocks involved in the terrain upon which Mercer moves is also questionable, as proved by other members of his qualified research team. He then concludes, based upon the...
(The entire section is 1301 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 19
Isidore realizes that he is gripping the handles of the empathy box when the lights go out in his apartment. Irmgard grabs him by the shoulder and directs him to go to the door if the bounty hunter knocks. She then tells Isidore to tell the bounty hunter that he lives in the apartment and that he is alone. Stratton then urges Isidore to prevent Deckard from entering the apartment because of what he will do to the androids. Isidore makes his way to the door and pauses to listen. Roy moves behind Isidore, who is now able to smell fear seeping out of the android. He directs Isidore to move out into the hallway, which Isidore does, still clutching a small spider in his hand. Isidore makes his way down the hallway and descends the stairs until he is in what used to be a garden terrace. Isidore makes his way along a path through the now dilapidated garden and releases the spider in a patch of weeds. A man asks Isidore what he is doing. Isidore responds that he’s just released a spider and the man asks Isidore why he doesn’t keep it, quoting a price from Sydney’s. Isidore replies that if he takes it back to his apartment “she’d” cut it apart again. The man then states that that is something androids do. At this point Isidore is able to make out the medium build of Deckard, who reminds Isidore more of an administrative clerk than the monster he had originally imagined. Deckard identifies himself to Isidore and asks if the androids are currently upstairs in Isidore’s apartment. Isidore explains that he is taking care of them in his apartment. Deckard asks Isidore to take him to the apartment. Isidore tells Deckard that if he kills the androids, Deckard will thereby be incapable of fusing with Mercer. Isidore refuses to help Deckard, so Deckard turns into the apartment building on his own.
Inside, Deckard contemplates how Isidore must have felt to find a living creature. He makes his way to the next floor and senses something moving in the shadows. Deckard announces that he will shoot if it moves, and he tries to bring out his laser tube, but without success. The figure then states that he is not an android, but Mercer himself, and that he is living the building because of Isidore. Deckard asks Mercer if what he is about to do means that he will be “outside of Mercerism.” Mercer responds that what Deckard is doing has to be done, something he has already told Deckard. Mercer then states that one...
(The entire section is 985 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 20
After talking with Bryant, Deckard orders Isidore to leave the area while the police come to clean up the mess. Isidore responds that he is leaving the building to go to a more populated area of town. Deckard tells Isidore that there might be an empty apartment in his building, but Isidore firmly declines the offer and states that he doesn’t want to live anywhere near him.
When Deckard returns to his own apartment building his wife is waiting for him. Deckard realizes that she is disturbed and he tells her that his mission is over. Before he can finish his sentence, Iran informs him that the goat is dead. Deckard isn’t entirely surprised by the news. He responds that he thinks the goat came with a warranty, but Iran interrupts to tell him that the goat didn’t get sick, but that someone came to the building and pushed it over the edge of the building. Iran tells Deckard that it was a young girl with dark hair who committed the crime. Deckard tells Iran that Rachel probably intended for Iran to see her kill the goat. Deckard kisses his wife and heads to his hovercar. Iran asks if Deckard heard about Friendly’s announcement and whether or not he thought it was true. To this Deckard responds, “Everything is true. Everything anybody has ever thought,” and takes off in his hovercar.
As he gains speed, Deckard remembers how he was once able to see stars. He then decides that he will head north to an uninhabited area where nothing living remains.
Rosen kills the goat in an attempt to destroy Deckard emotionally. Although Rosen does not understand humans' response to the death of animals, she does understand that she is capable of wounding Deckard without any repercussions to her own well-being. This is similar to the ability shared by bounty hunters to destroy androids without feeling any remorse. This ability corresponds to Deckard’s empathic emotional response to androids and further highlights the contradiction he feels in retiring androids.
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Summary and Analysis: Chapter 21
Dr. Costa: Dave Holden’s doctor at the hospital.
Chief Cutter: San Francisco Police Chief.
As Deckard makes his way north, he observes the barren landscape below him and compares it to an abandoned shipping room where only fragments remain. He is amazed when he considers that the dead landscape beneath him used to accommodate farms and animals. Deckard then brings his hovercar to a screeching halt on a rocky hillside. He decides to call Holden to discuss his recent encounters with the androids. When he dials the hospital where Holden is recovering, an operator informs Deckard that Holden’s condition is serious and he can't talk. Deckard contemplates his own recent accomplishments as he walks along the barren terrain. Deckard believes that speaking to Holden would have been helpful because Holden understands what is entailed in retiring the Nexus-6 type androids, even better than Mercer. Mercer, Deckard decides, has it easy because he simply accepts everything as it is. What Deckard has just done seems so foreign to him, and he feels foreign to himself, something that Deckard imagines would never happen to Mercer.
Deckard slowly trudges up a hillside, aware of the heat and of his own fatigue. He continues to climb upward, considering how it was possible to feel so defeated. Deckard is so deep in thought that he fails to notice how close he has come to plunging to his death off a cliff. A rock then suddenly hits Deckard in the groin. Deckard stops but feels compelled to continue. As he resumes his climb, he realizes that his wandering is without volition, similar to the way in which stones might roll down a hillside.
Deckard then faintly makes out a figure standing in front of him. He calls out to Mercer, but then realizes that it’s his own shadow on the hillside. Immediately, Deckard becomes aware of his setting and scrambles to get down off the hillside, and eventually reaches his hovercar and climbs inside. He recalls having stones hurled at him when he used the empathy box. Then Deckard realizes that difference in the experiences rests on the fact that this time he was completely alone.
Deckard wishes he hadn’t flown so far north because he is too tired to make his way back home. He consoles himself by remembering that he still has his electric sheep and his career, because there will always be more androids to...
(The entire section is 946 words.)
Summary and Analysis: Chapter 22
As Deckard sets down the receiver to the vidphone in his hovercar, he spots a toad among the stones on the ground outside. He grabs his copy of Sydney’s to confirm that they have toads listed as extinct. Deckard finds a cardboard box in his car and heads for the toad, which he realizes is the same color as the dust-covered ground upon which it sits. Deckard tries to recall what happens to people who find animals believed to be extinct and imagines that there’s some sort of recognition from the U.N. and possibly a stipend. In addition, Deckard reflects on how precious toads are to Mercer. Deckard, in disbelief of his find, then imagines that he might have suffered from radioactive exposure and has now become a special. However, Deckard realizes that he is Mercer and has, therefore, arranged for this serendipitous finding. Deckard captures the toad and thinks about the way in which Mercer sees the world, finding life amongst decaying kipple and dead landscapes. With the weight of his fatigue and depression now lifted, Deckard heads home.
Iran sits at the Penfield Mood Organ, unable to dial due to her feelings of depression. She thinks about Deckard and how he would make her dial a “3,” the setting that would make her want to dial the setting for wanting to watch television. She then wonders whether or not Deckard will ever return when she hears a knock on the door. She answers the door to find Deckard disheveled. Deckard announces that he has something and enters the apartment with the box. Iran wonders if the box contains the clues of what has recently happened to him. Deckard announces that he is going to sleep and that he intends to sleep all day. Iran asks about the box. Deckard unties it and tells Iran to pick up the toad. Iran mentions that she thought toads were extinct and asks if toads, like frogs, were able to jump. Deckard replies that the difference between toads and frogs is that toads have week hind legs and cannot jump like frogs, and that frogs need to live near water whereas toads can live in the desert. Deckard then tells Iran where he found the toad. He reaches to grab the animal from Iran, but realizes that she has found something on its abdomen. Iran flips the toad over and examines its belly where she finds a tiny control panel. Deckard’s elation deflates with this discovery. He places the toad back into its box and wonders how it had gotten to the location where he found it....
(The entire section is 884 words.)