On the surface, the story
could be thrown in with the host of post-nuclear war books that were
wide-spread back in the 1960s and 1970s. But "Do Androids Dream..."
is not one of those novels about humanity dropped back down into savagery, or
about people wandering aimlessly through rumble, or about animals and people
with extensive deformities, or the like.
The Earth is a place of
hazardous fallout, but this is more of a setting to create a gritty background.
People live in cities, have jobs and so forth. The substance of the book is
about finding meaning, about difference and which are significant, and where
human choice and rationality go their separate ways.
Following the nuclear war,
great efforts were made to get as many people as possible to move to Mars. But
it wasn't easy to get people to leave their home planet and go to a
marginally-habitable one. So, one of the incentives was to provide android
workers for all who emigrated. The androids were essentially slaves. Some are
unwilling to live that way, kill their owner and flee to Earth. On Earth,
these androids are sought by bounty hunters and "retired".
Meanwhile, humans on Earth
have come to feel a greater need to be around living animals. Pet ownership is
more-or-less universal. Animals are expensive, so those who can't afford one
have mechanical life-like imitations.
Meanwhile, there is a new
religion most people on Earth participate in. Via something like virtual
reality, people join the journey of Wilbur Mercer struggling up a mountain with
detractors throwing stones at him. When Mercer finally reaches the top, he is
thrown back to the beginning of his journey to start all over again.
Meanwhile, people use devices to force their minds into certain moods.
Meanwhile, the fallout has caused some people to have lowered IQs.
Meanwhile, androids are being
made smarter and otherwise harder to distinguish from natural humans. One of
the main ways is to test physiological signs of empathy responses... Even
after an android is killed, it is necessary to do a bone marrow test to verify
it was, in fact, an android.
It's a world of mechanical
animals, natural animals, natural humans with lowered IQs, natural people with
typical IQs, slave androids on Mars, and outlaw androids on Earth. ...but no