Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick, takes place in 1992 after World War Terminus caused much of Earth to become unlivable. Do to the lack of space that Earth now has to support the population, the United Nations urges people to emigrate to Mars. There they will be given an Android servant and an escape from their previous lives that is war. The remaining population on Earth live in decrepit, radiation filled cities where the radiation most likely renders them mentally handicapped, otherwise known as chicken heads, or unable to reproduce. Although Earth is decaying, the androids are still willed to return to earth so they can become free and not enslaved to humans. To do that however, they must kill their masters and, due to the fact that androids cannot feel empathy, do this frequently and without guilt. When the androids come to Earth however, they are known as murderers and it is the job of the bounty hunters such as Rick Deckard to kill/retire them. It is this kill or be killed mantra that brings the people looking for someone to believe in, someone to empathize with. Empathy is the religion of the people (humans). The leader of this cult like religion is a man named Mercer who controls an “empathy box”. This “box” gives people the false sense of empathy through feeling the emotions that Mercer has himself. Through the “box” the people become united behind one central emotional tank, the slow death of Mercer. Later in the book however, it is shown that Mercer is actually just an actor and the scenes that people see of Mercer dying are all staged. Mercer’s made up religion begs the question does the meaning behind religion have to be true or is the fact that there is something that unites people all a religion needs to be. In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Philip K. Dick shows through the way in which Deckard portrays Mercer at the end of the novel, the...
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