Reading: Philip K. Dick — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Another one of the pile I recently collected of older science-fiction works. This one I’ve read before, and the film it became is perhaps my all-time favourite; director’s cut or original. I’ve just finished the mammoth Water Margin, so this is quite an abrupt change — only 200 pages, American science-fiction of the psychologically disturbing kind instead of classical Chinese epic of the drunken brawling kind.

Sometime long ago, but after seeing Bladerunner, I read Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but somehow don’t have a complete memory of it. Perhaps I stopped before getting all the way through, as even from the beginning it’s not that film, and by the tenth chapter has gone somewhere completely different, reminding me of the film of A Scanner Darkly, and the precarious conditionality of memory, identity and self. The language also is beautiful at times, a viscerally descriptive style that seems to confront the fragility of the mind with a that of slight but pervasive corporeal revulsion.

It’s amusing and awkward and curious to read these old sci-fi books that anachronistically manage to remain futuristic in some aspects, and yet fail entirely in other; the beginnings of interstellar colonisation by the early ’90s with a still existent Soviet Union, yet still dealing with carbon-copies and cathode-ray technology, compared with in 2012 the latter three barely remembered while the former a far more distant spectre than in 1968 when the book was written.

So I shall enjoy this, also knowing two of my favourite authors are waiting for me to collect; a treat I shall reserve until I’ve got through my books of the year list later next week, and got through a mass of art and dance and (oh horror!) funding applications.