Dick (World 23)
Philip K. Dick (1928 – 1982; first SF publication, 1952) interweaves alternate realities, the difficulty in distinguishing reality from fantasy, the distinction (or not) between humanity and androids, internal and external realities, altered mental states, and other similar themes. Some of his stories are familiar even to many who don’t read science fiction, as they have been transformed into movies more or less true to the original work, including Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale), The Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, and many others. It’s difficult and perhaps pointless to try to name the stories for which he is best known, since they include so many varied titles; in addition to those already mentioned, he also wrote The Man In The High Castle (alternative reality where the Axis won World War II), Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said (a celebrity wakes up to discover that his identity has been erased from everyone’s memory), Ubik (psychics investigating other psychics), and the list goes on.
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Earth is literally disintegrating into junk, and the only people remaining are those who can’t afford to leave — plus the androids who have illegally slipped past the planetary border guard. All animals are nearly extinct, and a creature of any sort is a highly sought status symbol. (Those who can’t afford a real animal make do with animated alternatives.) Rick Deckard, who earns his living tracking down and “retiring” androids, used to have a real sheep, but it died. Now he’s trying to save up for another sheep, or even a cow or horse. In the meantime, he has an electric sheep, of which there are enough for the rest of the galaxy.