Picking up on ch 16 we witness the encounter of Deckard and Rachel Rosen. He requested her help to retire the three remaining androids assigned to him, and when she reads the poop sheet on Pris Stratton she becomes upset. At first I thought that she felt identified with Pris, with them being the same android model, I even thought that she empathized with her, but we soon find out that she is in fact willing to retire her herself. With a flirtatious to and fro, Deckard and Rachel end up having sex. Right afterwards Rachel reveals herself as a Bounty Hunter Seducer, a kind of sexbot, assigned by the Rosen Association to sleep with and confuse bounty hunters to the point that they no longer desire to retire andys. Deckard feels angry at this betrayal, and is even willing to retire her, realizing that she had already resigned herself to die, a trait he thought all androids had in common. They basically lack the will to fight and survive that a true living organism with billions of years of evolution has (Ch. 17, p. 200). In the end lets her live with the pretext that she only has two more years until her artificial metabolism stops working and she becomes obsolete.
Back with John Isidore and we find that he is happy with finally having company, even though he is fully aware that the androids are using him, as he reflected:
You have to be with other people, he though. in order to live (Ch. 18, p. 204).
Not long after we hear the big “revelation” from Buster Friendly: Mercerism is a swindle. Or is it really? Between the torture of the spider by Pris and the TV announcement, Isidore seems to be having a breakdown, during which he manages to connect to his empathy box, somehow causing Wilbur Mercer to materialize on the spot. This part is somewhat confusing, as you’re not sure if his exchange with Mercer is happening in reality or in his head. Mercer uses his powers of resurrection to heal the tortured spider, causing Isidore to run away with it, bumping into Deckard on the way. Here again, the supposedly materialized form of Mercer somehow manages to warn Deckard about Pris Stratton who is hiding behind and rushing towards him, laser tube in hand. He retires her, and then proceeds to… somewhat easily, it seems… retire Roy and Irmgard Baty. Honestly I was expecting more of a showdown, with some eloquent speech from Roy before being destroyed. Instead we get Deckard admitting his love for Rachel Rosen.
Returning home, Rick finds that Rachel has killed his Black Nubian goat, and he proceeds to run off to the Oregon desert, where once again, things get confusing. Rick claims to have physically merged with Mercer, and as he begins walking up a hill, he takes a rock to the groin. It is never revealed who threw the rock. Maybe the fact that he is now one with Mercer makes rocks hurl themselves at him? Anyway, he goes back to his car, sniffs some snuff and sees a living toad, which are thought to be all extinct. The sight of the toad seems to bring a renewed energy to him. He captures it and enthusiastically runs home to show Iran. She discovers that the toad is an ersatz animal, and Rick is so mentally and physically tired that he just decides to go to bed. Iran kisses him to comfort him and this makes him pleased, like he was before knowing the toad was artificial. I guess in the end he realized that he is alive, he has his wife, and an animal, although fake. Rick Deckard ends the story in the same circumstances he was at the beginning.
Although entertaining at times, the more esoteric parts of the story were confusing, especially concerning Mercerism. Although a work of Science Fiction, DADOES introduced a heavy spiritual element with the religion, its followers and its practices. These were all very human concepts, not mechanical, digital or robotic.
I know it’s not due until next week, but I’m off to watch Blade Runner now, hoping for a better ending.
PS: Rachel Rosen killed Rick’s goat and got away with it. What a b*tch.