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Humans are... what, in Dick's narrative? Phillip K. Dick's sci-fi classic delves into a futuristic world where Earth has been ravaged by radiationfrom the fallout of the so-called "World War Terminus".

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ENGL 106 Literature and the Screen Tutorial Question Q: Humans are... what, in Dick's narrative? Phillip K. Dick's sci-fi classic delves into a futuristic world where Earth has been ravaged by radiation from the fallout of the so-called "World War Terminus". He explores the notion of humanity's struggle for survival in this diminished environment and incorporates their interaction with the bio-synthetic andriods which serve as mere human slaves in the off-world colonies. This essay will attempt to explore how this author has raised questions into what it exactly is to be 'human' and how the humans portrayed in this novel can be seen as 'un-human' when compared to their android and sub-human counterparts. The setting and scene of this novel is of a dystopian world, where many of the human inhabitants go to live in Off-World colonies such as New New York, and avoid the radiation cloud that has infested Earth. The existence of outlawed androids who seek refuge on Earth, are indistinguishable from humans and can only be identified as an android by composing certain 'tests' such as the Voight Kampff empathy test or a bone marrow examination. ...read more.


The Voight-Kampff test, which is employed by Deckard to distinguish from humans and androids, is in fact an empathy test and the importance of empathy as a human characteristic is further emphasised by the use of empathy fusion boxes reoccurring throughout the novel. This empathy box allows fusion between the artificial "God" in Wilbur Mercer and functions as a combination of recreation and religion, used to prove to the users themselves that they are able to empathize with another person. This trait is something that androids are unable to simulate as seen in Roy Batty's failed attempts of fusion. It is rather ironic that humans rely on machines to become one with their human self, at the same time detesting androids from existing among them. As the novel develops, Deckard is shown drifting apart from his wife Iran, the only person to whom he seems to have any real relationship with. This is significant since Deckard is portrayed as the ultimate loner, an image similar to that of detective Phillip Marlowe in his noir genres. When he is speaking with his neighbour, his attitude is a mixture of a desire to get rid of him and a desire to show off. ...read more.


Even Deckard himself realises that this android does not deserve to die as she is a wonderful performer and is doing good rather than harm towards the society. The Rand Corporation's "daughter" Rachel is supposed to be incapable of emotions but claims to love Deckard and is prepared to do Deckard's dirty work in order for him to love her back. There does exist a contrasting factor, since she offers to kill one of her fellow Nexus-6 so it reverses the original perception that she is totally innocent of being inhumane. It is also seen that she may have merely seduced Deckard for her own ends, as instructed by her creator, Rand. Nonetheless, when compared to Deckard, who is considered human by society but is very cold and unfeeling with people such as Isidore and Rachel, who are considered sub-human and non-human respectively but display much more emotion, the roles of each class and the way they ought to act seems contradictory. On the whole, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep conveys a sense that the characteristics that define a human being can be present in both androids and supposedly, deteriorated humans. In the same way, humans that are considered "real humans" by society may be lacking these characteristics. Thus the boundary between human and non-human seems to be very vague. ...read more.

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