What Does It Mean to Be a Human?
Today in my post I would like to share my admiration and interest in cyberpunk genre. To tell the truth I wasn’t keen on science fiction genre for a long period of time. I thought it was not for me and at that time I was more interested in detective fiction and thrillers. My favorite authors of these genres are Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Wallace. I still from time to time read some of their works and watch film adaptations based on their novels. Anyway I was very indifferent to any kind of fantasy, science fiction or similar genres. But once I changed my mind. The reason? Well, it was very banal. I watched Blade Runner (1982)by Ridley Scott. I’m sure you have watched this science fiction film. After viewing it I surfed the Internet trying to find out as much information as possible about the movie. The storyline is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
The film as well as Philip Dick’s novel presents the main cyberpunk conception focusing on artificial intelligence, mega corporations and post-industrial dystopias. So it is fair to say that Philip Dick was among others who developed cyberpunk genre. In his works he was interested in theology along with metaphysics. He revealed the ideas concerning social and psychological subjects such as drug abuse, schizophrenia and paranoia. By the way very often it was his own experience he described in his novels.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is about Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter, and androids he aimed to hunt and kill. The events of the novel is set in a near-future Earth, to be exact it is set in 2021. Millions were killed during the World War Terminus and the rest were sent to other planets. Well, some left on the planet and they actually couldn’t afford themselves… any living creatures. So that’s why huge and influential corporations created very realistic simulacra: dogs, sheep, horses and others. They didn’t stop on it and built even humans so that it is impossible to distinguish whether this or that creature is an actual human or an artificial android.
The point is that the androids wanted to organize illegal deposition of the Government. That’s why the Government is willing to annihilate all the android enemies. The only difficulty was to find these creatures who looked like humans. Rick Deckard was sent to the Earth to find out who were the rioters among androids and to exterminate them. The only difference existing between humans and androids is that the latter do not have any empathic sense. So the main intention of the novel is not only to depict post-war society but also to find an answer to the question: what does it mean to be a human?
Philip Dick depicted terrible decaying cities where people do not live but at least try to survive. The consequences of the war are horrific. The radiation influenced them and damaged their genes. But the plot is more than the depiction of all these things. Hunting on androids there is a question addressed to Rick Deckard: is he a human being? Or probably he is just another advanced android?
Ridley Scott didn’t answer to the question giving a chance to decide to the viewers. I incline to believe that Rick was an android. Than what is all this story for?