Monday, 20 February 2012

Reading and Working Out: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

A fascinating shot of Harrison Ford and Daryl Hannah, presumably taken during the filming of Blade Runner in 1982. (Courtesy Kaytaria, Flickr)

I've now spend a month working on endurance and cardio at the gym. “Lost a few pounds in my waist fo ya,” as Missy Elliot would say.

But I'm gradually getting back to how I used to look, pre-moving out and nose-diving into Tesco-assisted coprophagia. I'm eating better, sleeping better and thinking better. Not to mention, looking better.

I rounded off the month with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, an SF novel by Philip K Dick. If it sounds familiar, you might know it by its film adaptation name, Blade Runner

It's a very traditional SF book- cleansed dialogue, large, shiny cityscapes, hard science but not too technical in description. It's also in third person, which surprised me, as Ridley Scott's theatrical version of Blade Runner has a (slightly dodgy) commentary from bounty hunter Deckard (Harrison Ford)- possibly to beef up the “noir” feel Scott was going for. There's also a lot in the book that doesn't make it into the film- Deckard's wife, the intense coveting of live animals (most of which are endangered) by most of the characters in the story (in particular by the wife), and more. It makes for a fascinating read.

As well as entertaining, it's also prophetic. Characters in the book occasionally dial a number on a “mood organ” to adjust their attitude the day, a device for instant remedies to any condition, no matter how minor. Did Dick forsee medical services like NHS Direct, or pharmacutical products like Prozac?

I had a few problems with the book, though. Deckard needed to test certain characters with a questionairre to check whether they were android or human, using an empathy test. Why couldn't he just x-ray them? Or take a blood sample? Am I missing something?

Having said that, it's a great read. I'm definitely in the mood for some Director's Cut viewing soon.

Over a period of 3 days, the book took 5 hours 26 minutes to read. “Cycling speed”, of course, means reading at the pace of a ten-year-old. And checking the Wikipedia summary, I noticed I'd missed quite a lot of the plot.

So perhaps reading and cycling aren't meant to be together. Particularly not when the reading material is complex science fiction. Reading and working out- separately- are guilty pleasures as whichever one I'm doing, I always feel I should be doing the other- or writing. So now the month is over, maybe it's time to knuckle down to something writing-related.


CageFightingBlogger said...

Also, how do you colonise a star? It's a ball of burning gas! Oh, Dick. You were doing so well.

CageFightingBlogger said...

Watched the film for the eighth time recently. (Director's cut, obviously.) Understood it for the first time.