This was an amazing read. I did not think I would enjoy reading this book after such a bleak and grim introduction to this universe. After telling us that this world has no hope and so much destruction that created it. Somehow, it is still habitable. People still going about their daily lives and having adventures. But what is making the story interesting is the bleak introduction I disliked.
While someone with much more experience than me can go and write a theses on why setting is so important, I’m just going to talk about how the setting of the story impacted me. We are first introduced to Deckard as he normally wakes up to go to work. But that’s not the important part. What is, is the mood organ we are introduced. It gives us the notion that in the world emotions is something that can change at the press of a button. From fits of rage (pg.4) to even controlling your wife (pg. 7). Can I just take a pause to mention that in this world, domestic violence does not seem apparent? Even though it’s a pretty bad way of controlling it, but what if the same setting existed for men also. This can also be the cause on why there seems to be no human on human violence in this world. There is a reason I mentioned humans specifically.
Another way he sets up this world that caught my attention is the TV set. Somehow Dick kept mentioning it. The first time we were introduced to it I paid no mind to it. Now a days the TV is part of our daily lives so it has become the norm. But what stroke me as odd was that in the mood organ there is a specific settings that give you the urge to want to watch it (pg. 6). It seems like in this world they want you to watch the television set. On page 26 Mercer mentions he hears a TV 2-3 levels away, muffled but still audible. Now picture in a building where all the apartments are occupied. Don’t you think it would be possible that you can easily hear the television set in the next apartment? So even if you are not watching TV, you are still exposed to the sounds of it. The idea that in this world there is no escape from something so simple.
Lastly I would like to mention the reason this world has turned to the gutter. W.W.T, World War Terminus. This essentially created the bow in which the gift of this world is placed on. Turns out that earth is not “habitable” any more. The huge portion avian race has been eliminated (pg.16). Then later we find out that most small animals like foxes and badgers became either extinct or endangered (pg. 43). Most human life emigrated to mars either to start a new life, or it could be that you get your own robot butler (pg. 18). Those that stayed either descend into madness, or just live a boring mundane life.
So far all in all, this has been a really good read. Really was not interested until the real story picked up. Really enjoyed chapter 5. Normally I would be “Screw the Rosen Corporation!”, but in this world, you would have to look out for yourself. So I do not really blame them. This is kind of why establishing a setting can be crucial in a story.
I find it interesting that you mention domestic violence. something I really hadn’t noticed until I read your post is that there is a lack of female characters (atleast human females). So far there have only been two as I can recall, Iran and that secretary where Deckard works. And yet, the androids on which the story focuses are mainly ‘female’. I wonder why Dick chose to do that?