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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

...And dream of (electric) sheep...

An interesting
piece in last
weekend's Observer.

We certainly seem
at some point in
the last few years
to have crossed
a rubicon of some
sort and are now
emerging, blinking,
disoriented and
slightly apprehensive
from one technological
era and into another. It's
probably too soon
to give it a name, but
one senses from the
overall thrust of the
Observer's predictions
that it will be one of
increasing plasticity;
of food, culture, environment
and, perhaps most unnervingly,
of the human form itself.

In short, to get a flavour
of the world we'll soon be
inhabiting if the Obs's
crystal ball gazers are
anywhere near being on
the money, you could do
worse than reacquaint
yourself with a few frames
of Ridley Scott's Bladerunner.
It all seems to be in there,
doesn't it? The increasing
confluence of eastern and
western technologies, high
tech, blaring-neon consumer
capitalism operating just
beyond the reach of an almost
medieval favella teeming with a
gene-bending peasantry.

Our only hope, perhaps,
in this world of nano-nurtured
replicants squabbling over their
allocation of protein pills is
that somewhere in its margins
some of the spirit of the little
man fighting against the odds that
the author of the original book
so often eulogised will somehow
have survived. A favoured technique
of the science fictition is to take
emerging trends and push them to
their (il)logical limits. But will it
much longer be possible to devise such
narratives when society itself
seems to be pursuing the very course
that was once the preserve of the
speculative imagination? It won't be long,
surely, before Philip K. Dick's Do
androids dream of electric sheep is
being taught as a classic example of the
proto-realist school pf literature?


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