The 1960’s were a time of great triumph and also great defeat for America. The 1960’s saw huge achievements in technology from the first video game console being invented to the first laser being fired (Oxford). However, the Vietnam and Cold Wars were both in full effect in the 60’s resulting in very troubling times for America. In 1968 Philip K. Dick wrote “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” and in this novel, just about everything symbolizes something in society at that point. Dick does a great job of incorporating the aspects of society at that time period into DADES. Some examples of this include the empathy boxes, chicken heads, life on Mars, and life on Earth. These symbolize drugs, disabled persons, the rich people, and the poor people respectfully. One of the more important symbols that Dick makes are the androids. It is believable that the androids symbolize many things, but perhaps the most important thing they symbolize are emotionless, non-sympathetic people. This represents the people whom were pro Vietnam War.
Dick illustrates a world in 2021, World War Terminus has ended but not until it killed millions of people. The survivors are forced to make a decision, go live on Mars or continue life on Earth. It seems as though the rich and well off people went to Mars while all the rest of the people are forced to fend for themselves against the radioactive dust and the androids on Earth. The androids were invented to be servants for families on Mars, but through time the androids grew more and more like humans and are soon almost indistinguishable. The androids, especially the Nexus-6 model are identical to human beings; they are able to function the same way in every aspect except one. Androids lack the empathy that normal human beings have, and this is the only way to distinguish between a human and an android. Even so, sometimes it is very hard to distinguish between an android and human with the test. This emotionless sense is what the people against the Vietnam War believed all the Vietnam supporters were like. Young men were being sent to Vietnam and forced fight whether they believed in the war or not. The comparison can be made that the androids are the emotionless people sending Americans overseas to fight. In DADES, society and more specifically the bounty hunters are fighting against the androids, which is exactly what the antiwar movement was doing. Looking at it closer the androids seem to actually be comparable to the politicians from the 1960’s.
It can also be said that the androids are actually controlling society without anyone knowing it. Buster Friendly, one of the most well-known people on Earth has not only a TV program but also a radio program that run nonstop for twenty three hours a day. Just about every person left on earth watches these programs every day. It is safe to say that Buster Friendly controls everyone’s life on earth for forty six hours a day. From this piece of information, characters such as Mr. Sloat and JR Isidore are starting to catch on to who Buster Friendly really is. “Buster is immortal…it’s true. They’ve never admitted it, of course (Dick 76)”. Cleary Buster Friendly and the other important people are actually androids not humans. Androids are controlling the humans without the human’s realizing it. The Androids are controlling the population more than originally thought, just as the politicians were in the 1960’s.
Dick a member of the antiwar movement himself clearly believed that the Vietnam supporters especially the politicians were not for the good of society, just as the androids are in DADES. Dick does a phenomenal job in his symbolism of many of the objects in DADES. It is clear that this book has a deeper meaning than what appears in the text. Overall, DADES shows a view of what Dick believed could come of the world if events such as the Vietnam War continued.
Oxford, Tasmin. "6 Technologies to Thank the 1960s for." TechRadar. TechRadar, 17 Nov. 2009. Web. 18 Sept. 2013.
Dick, Philip K., and Philip K. Dick. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? New York: Ballantine, 1996. Print.