Summary: Chapter 8

Returning to San Francisco, Rick assures Bryant that the Voigt-Kampff test is still reliable. Rick then starts working through Holden’s files on the remaining androids. Max Polokov, the one that shot Holden, is absent from work and not at home, either. Polokov has apparently fled town and become some other bounty hunter’s worry. For the next android, Rick has learned, he will be joined by a foreign cop who is visiting as an observer. Oddly, Rick also gets a call from Rachael, who offers to help him deal with the six androids, all Nexus-6 models. Rick turns her down. 

When Rick’s new foreign partner tries to kill him, Rick realizes the partner is actually Polokov and manages to shoot him first. Shaken, Rick has second thoughts about spurning Rachael’s offer. When he calls Iran, she is just coming out of a long depressive episode and reacts apathetically to his news that he killed an andy. Rick thinks bitterly that most female androids have more life in them than Iran. His thoughts turn to his new target, Luba Luft. She is a well-known singer with the San Francisco opera.

Summary: Chapter 9

A fan of opera, Rick watches the company rehearse before proceeding to confront Luba in her dressing room. When he tries to administer the Voigt-Kampff test, however, Luba throws Rick off track, deflecting his questions and asking how Rick knows he himself is human. He protests that he passed the required test, but she gives him reasons to doubt his answer. Finally, Luba distracts Rick long enough to pull out a laser weapon. She accuses Rick of being a sexual deviant. When Luba calls the police, Rick is relieved and thinks Luba must not realize she is an android. His relief turns to confusion, however, when an Officer Crams arrives who claims never to have heard of Rick or Inspector Bryant. A strange vidphone malfunction prevents Rick from getting Bryant on the line to clear up the confusion. Even more bafflingly, Crams claims that the Hall of Justice where Rick works fell into disuse years ago. Crams will be flying Rick to the new one.

Analysis: Chapters 8–9

In the first, gritty scene of Rick Deckard “retiring” an android, the unraveling chaos of the novel’s dystopian setting weighs heavily on him. On the hunt for Polokov, Deckard morbidly meditates on how garbage collection became the major industry on Earth after the war’s devastation, cynically agreeing with Buster Friendly’s take on humanity being buried eventually under heaps of “kipple,” a colloquialism meaning junk, garbage, or otherwise useless human fabrications. Rachael’s offer of help seems chaotic to Deckard as well. However, when Polokov poses as a Russian bounty hunter and nearly kills him, Deckard reconsiders Rachael’s offer to help, since the chaos of this world might get him killed. But Deckard also seems strangely ambivalent to immediate dangers like Polokov. Deckard’s thoughts are always on the expensive, living ostrich he wants to buy, showing a blatantly escapist mentality. Despite the ambiguities arising in his life and work, Deckard still yearns for status and advancement in the confusing and chaotic setting he inhabits.

Luba Luft, another escaped android and potential bounty, allows Deckard time to consider his attraction to female androids, and the ever-thinning line between authentic and artificial humans. Deckard is emotionally moved listening to Luft’s opera rehearsal, though he can’t avoid the reality that ingenious programming is what provides Luft with such an authentic voice. Luft’s chosen profession reveals that Deckard’s pursuit of authenticity is a pursuit that can be shared by androids. Once enslaved, Luft now seeks to pursue a normal, “human” life. But neither Deckard, nor the rule of law, can allow her that freedom, since underneath all her human interests she is not an authentic human. Luft tries to turn the tables on Deckard, and for the first time in the novel, Deckard is questioned about his own status as a potential android. Luft also questions whether or not the difference between androids and humans is important at all. But as Deckard’s trouble deepens with his arrest in Luft’s dressing room, that difference will take on tremendous importance, at least for Deckard.