In The Game Players of Titan radiation from a nuclear war has wiped out much of Earth’s population. The remaining people, most of whom are unable to reproduce, gather together to play a Monopoly-like game where they win controlling deeds to American cities and pair off with spouses with the hope of finding the ‘luck’ to conceive children.
A race of aliens from the Saturn moon Titan has colonized Earth, but these telepathic vugs have problems of their own as a faction of moderates feuds with extremists with psionic powers who have infiltrated Earth disguised as humans. Pete Garden stumbles upon this secret one night during a drug-fueled bender celebrating the luck he found with his new wife. This leads to a showdown on Titan with the game-players of Earth and the vugs who play their own version of the game.
I have to make a note about the Rushmore Effect, because I love it. It’s a kind of limited A.I. given to all inanimate objects. Tea kettles and ice machines say ‘thank you’ and cars and elevators have polite and objective conversations with people, all except for Joe Schilling’s car which is cantankerous and seems to hate him.
Cast of characters
Pete Garden – our protagonist. Member of Pretty Blue Fox and former Bindman of Berkeley, California
Freya – Pete’s former wife and member of Pretty Blue Fox
Jack Blau, Clem Gaines, Bill Calumine, Silvanus Angst, Stuart Marks– Bindmen who play with Pretty Blue Fox
Jerome Luckman – Bindman of New York who purchases the title to Berkeley
Walt Remington – Pretty Blue Fox member responsible for the Berkeley title ending up with Luckman
Dotty Luckman – Luckman’s wife
Joe Schilling – record store owner and former Bindman of New York. Lost to Luckman. Joseph Schilling is also the name of the record store owner in Mary and the Giant
Dave Mutreaux – Luckman’s precog
Sid Mosk – Luckman’s secretary
Patricia McClain – former B barred from the game because she’s a telepath. Pete’s neighbor in San Rafael
Allan McClain – Pat McClain’s husband
Mary Anne McClain – Patricia’s 18-year-old daughter with powerful psionic powers. Her name was repurposed from Mary and the Giant (unpublished when this book came out) along with Joe Schilling
Nats Katz – popular tv recording artist
U.S. Cummings – the vug District Commissioner
Carol Holt – Pete’s new wife
E.B. Black – the vug police officer investigating Luckman’s death
Wade Hawthorne – the Terran police officer investigating Luckman’s death
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was the first Philip K. Dick book I read and a great introduction to his work. If you’ve seen Blade Runner then you are familiar with the plot: the bounty hunter Rick Deckard must retire the Nexus-6 androids (the most advanced models yet!) who have escaped from Mars and returned to Earth.
The most notable missing storyline in the movie adaptation has to do with the animals. Due to nuclear fallout after a world war living animals are incredibly rare. They are seen as status symbols and their cost is recorded in a constantly-referenced catalog called Sydney’s Animal & Fowl. This aspect of the book isn’t even really a subplot but more like the main plot line, since Deckard is hunting the androids for the bounty so he can buy a living animal to replace the electric sheep he has at the beginning of the story.
Otherwise Blade Runner is more or less faithful to the novel with some things necessarily streamlined. The terms “blade runner” and “replicant” are unique to the movie, and the ambiguity at the end about whether Deckard is human or not was invented by Ridley Scott and the screenwriters.
Dick declined to write a novelization of Blade Runner which would have netted him something like $400,000. Instead he got $12,500 for rereleasing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? under the Blade Runner name and artwork while he completed The Transmigration of Timothy Archer. I imagine anyone expecting the grittiness of the movie probably didn’t know what to make of the Penfield Mood Organ in the first chapter, one of the funniest parts of the book.
Dick began Deus Irae in 1964 and collaborated on it with Roger Zelazny on and off for the next twelve years before it finally was published in 1976.
A religion called the Servants of Wrath springs up after a nuclear war wipes out most of the planet’s population. The followers worship the destroyer who has come to Earth in the form of Carl Lufteufel, the man responsible for the bombs.
Tibor McMasters, an armless and legless man very similar to the phocomelus Hoppy Harrington from Dr. Bloodmoney (except that Tibor’s cart is pulled by a cow), is hired to paint a church mural featuring Lufteufel for the Servants of Wrath. He sets off on a pilgrimage, followed by Pete Sands, across the post-apocalyptic wasteland in order to find Lufteufel and take a photo of him to reference for the mural.
Cast of characters
Father Handy – father in the Servants of Wrath church
Tibor McMasters – limbless artist who paints the SOW church mural
Pete Sands – Christian church member
Dr. Jim Abernathy – Christian priest in Charlottesville
Lurnie Rae – SOWer who decides to join the Christian church
Carl Lufteufel – Deus Irae. The God of Wrath. Former Chairman of the Energy Research and Development Administration who was responsible for the nuclear war
Jackson and Earl Potter – lizard-like mutants Tibor meets on his journey
Jack Schuld – a hunter who says he is tracking Lufteufel but turns out to be Lufteufel himself
The Great C – a computer out in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that captures passerby and dissolves them in underground vats of acid