From what I have noticed thus far, there are not very many literature specialists or students on campus who enjoy works of speculative fiction, or at least not too many who openly admit to liking it…now that I have outed myself, let’s proceed to an introduction of two works dealing with machines modeled after humans which I believe are worthy of your attention.
Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots) is a play which caught worldwide attention almost overnight during the post-WWI period for its unusual theme of the artificial human being. Although this same theme is no longer unusual to the 21st century movie-going audience, I urge you to sample the original work which coined the term “robot” and first staged a non-organic overthrow of human domination. I may be “one of those” geeks, but I can assure you that I do not fall for just any book with a gleaming utopia (or gloomy dystopia) on the front cover.
Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a philosophical and sometimes absurd expression of the fluidity of the human identity. Though it is a bounty hunter chasing its prey which drives the plot forward, this particular bounty hunter proves to be more than the stock cynical personality that you would expect to see in a typical blockbuster film. There is also a film adaptation called Bladerunner, if you care to see how Harrison Ford handles the role of the bounty hunter. Note: my professor and I absolutely recommend the Final Cut version. Ford’s voice-over really kills the mood.
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