Author: Philip K. Dick (1928-1986) was a science fiction author that spent most his life nearly in poverty. Ironically, you are probably more familiar with his work than you think. Ten of his books were adapted to popular films including, Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report,Paycheck, Next, Screamers, and The Adjustment Bureau.
Summary: By 2021, the World War had killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remained coveted any living creature, and for people who couldn't afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacrae: horses, birds, cats, sheep. . . They even built humans.
My Review: When I first started reading this book, I felt confused by its content. The author throws you into his world with little backstory. But the explanation comes slowly over the course of the first pages through the inner dialogue of Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter for the San Francisco Police, hired to "retire" androids that have escaped to Earth from Mars, posing as humans.
The author also toggles to another character, J.R. Isidore, a person considered "special" because he has tested low on the IQ exam (and a significant character in the novel for his innocence which clearly conflicts with the androids).
Between the two characters, there are a lot of themes explored: religion, commercialism, and explotation.
It is about a world that is covered in fallout from a World War that no one one can even remember the causes too. Most humans have left to colonize on Mars and the remaining humans must suffer the consequences on a damaged Earth while trying to rebuild society. Everybody possess an animal, but the cost to purchase an animal becomes one that inevitably evokes a status symbol. Far from the purpose of caring for an endangered creature.
The author forces you to think about life and its preservation tied cleverly to a story about escaped androids. But, there lies the heart of the matter. The androids are made to feel superior to us because they are built to understand situations logically. However, the irony is that it is a human's ability to have empathy and compassion that sets us a part from any other living creature (and why it is important for us to rebuild on Earth).
I'm not really a sci-fi lover, but I really enjoyed this book. It only took me two days to read it and I was completely captivated. For a book that was published in 1968, the author really does an amazing job of creating a timeless story that has relevance in any era. I highly suggest his work!