I was feeling distinctly nauseous last night, and it definitely hasn't abated today. At least I got cuaght up with my work yesterday, and provided I'm feeling well enough to write my sci-fi film essay tonight, I'll actually be ahead of the game come Wednesday. If not, I'm gonna be behind again. *sighs* Only two more applications to go, too. Coming down to the wire, aren't we?
Anyway, here's why I'm kind of ahead of the game. I got this novel finished last night, even though class isn't until Thursday. I definitely want to read more of Philip K. Dick's work, now.Dick, Philip K. Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). New York: Del Rey, 1982. (First Printing: 1968)Summary
: Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter working for the Los Angeles police, ordered to bring in six rogue Nexus-6 androids newly escaped from Mars. In spite of himself, he manages to do it all in one day and in the process develop a level of sympathy for the androids that he hunts.Comments
: The novel plays at length with the question, "What is reality?" So, you get bombarded by variations of that question throughout the novel. Are androids human? Are they at least equal to humans if not exactly the same? Are the bounty hunters actually androids? Is that electric animal actually electric? Is Mercer a god or just a second-rate actor on a low-budget set? Ultimately, you aren't left with any clear-cut answers, and what is "reality" for the androids might be totally different but just as valid from the "reality" of humans. We get this impression twice late in the novel--Rachel's murder of Rick's black goat and the androids' reaction to the revelation about Mercer. Though I definitely liked the novel more than the film in the first half, I'm not sure if I liked the resolution of the novel more. The novel definitely trivializes the androids' existence in the end; as far as Rick is concerned, Roy Baty is so stupid that he can't tell humans apart. In fact, I'm convinced that Dick is not ready to embrace the possibility of full humanity for the androids as Michael Cunningham was in Specimen Days
; their existence in the end is only understood by the level to which the humans around them are able to empathize with them. Is this speaking to the Civil Rights Movement? Possibly. But if it is, it's suggesting that androids are an inferior lifeform but that humans ought to sympathize with them anyway. Replace the word "androids" with "blacks," and you get something almost unspeakably condescending. Regardless, there's plenty to enjoy here, from mood organs to Mercerism, though even this "futuristic" technology is more about the present than it is about the future. When's the last time you used the verb "to dial" in normal conversation? Dials on telephones have become obsolete; we don't dial anymore. And yet, you hear the word all the time on Stargate SG-1
and see it in Blade Runner
. I guess the future is always simultaneously better and worse than we hope it will be.Notes
: mass market paperback, movie tie-inRating
- Entertaining and definitely worth a read, particularly to see how our expectations of the future have changed.