Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alright, you may strip away my geek badge. When I started reading this book, I actually didn’t know this is what the movie “Blade Runner” was based on. As I started reading, there were many elements where I thought, “this sounds *really* familiar — too familiar!”

So, I did some further research, and what do you know!

Interestingly enough, I really enjoyed this book. Which surprises me, because I actually don’t enjoy the Blade Runner movie very much (strike two against my geek badge?).

Perhaps it was because the story in the book takes place in San Francisco, and it’s easy to relate, since I live here. The post-apocalyptic, dystopian theme also seems to tie in with various media I’ve been consuming recently (purely coincidental, I’m sure): Hunger Games, Book of Eli, Fallout 3, etc.

Anyway, the story takes place in the not too distant future, after a World War decimates much of planet Earth — forcing large parts of the population to emigrate to Mars. To incentivize people to leave Earth, settlers were given their own personal android servants (which were becoming disturbingly similar to humans).

For one reason or another, these androids would sometimes attempt to escape Mars and return to Earth. This is apparently a bad thing. So, various governments and agencies on Earth hired bounty hunters to specifically and discretely eliminate the unwelcome android immigrants.

The story follows the trails and tribulations of one bounty hunter in San Francisco, who is obsessed with the thought of owning a real animal (which is a status symbol in the not-too-distant future). Based on whether or not he kills an android, he gets a bounty, which he’s been saving up to eventually buy an animal.

It’s an entertaining read that examines the morality of creating and taking away artificial life forms, empathetic responses to various situations, and the philosophical debate of fate vs. free will.

It was a quick read (took about 2.5 days for me to get through), highly entertaining, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of science fiction. One thing: just, watch, out, for, Philip K. Dick’s, use, of, commas.

View all my reviews >>

Review: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our DecisionsPredictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dan Ariely writes in a pretty simple and straightforward manner about how ridiculous we act when it comes to economic decisions. It’s full of many examples and experiments (you get the feeling that students at MIT are unwittingly subjected to sociology experiments every single day) on how people will act regarding certain conditions (e.g., giving away something free vs. something cheap, paying for labor from friends vs. giving gifts).

In the short time since I’ve read it, I’ve already thought about many of the habits I do every day — should I really be purchasing this coffee and bagel every day? And why do I do that in the first place.

Anyway, it’s a pretty enlightening read into why we humans make certain decisions and how we can try to change things for the better.

View all my reviews >>

Contrasting an American Life

Last year, I read Walter Isaacson’s fascinating biography on Albert Einstein, titled, “Einstein: His Life and Universe.”

Earlier today, I decided to look for more work by Isaacson and found that he wrote another great biography, this time about Benjamin Franklin. The book was titled, “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life.”

franklin_american_life.png

The tagline, “an American life,” struck a chord with me because it sounded so familiar. Where else have I heard that term recently? Ah yes.

palin_american_life.png

Seriously? It’s kind of insulting and sad that these books share the same tagline. Here are a few differences between the subjects of each book.

  • One book is about a great person, who had a profound effect on the founding of our country. The other is about someone trying to inadvertantly destroy it.
  • One book is about an inventor, intellect, and scientist. The other is about someone who despises those descriptions and the people behind them.
  • One book is about is about someone who strived to persevere in all facets of life. The other is about someone who perpetually quits when things get too tough.
  • One book is about a great American. The other is not.