I finally got around to reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? By Philip K. Dick. For all of my bluster and love of fantasy and sci-fi, I’m poorly versed in the classics. This is because I enjoy reading my favorite books repeatedly and finding new insight each time.
But …Electric Sheep reminded me of what I love about the genre: fantasy/sci-fi is the perfect medium for allegory and philosophy (something I try to emulate in my own work). For example, …Electric Sheep is “about” many things, but what grabbed me was its take on the nature of humanity and empathy. There’s also this dystopian gem during a hallucination where the protagonist is speaking with Mercer, the savior figure of the new human religion:
“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature that lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
Mercer says that. The supposed pinnacle of humanity and empathy admits that you cannot always be true to yourself. You will compromise your ideals, you will fall. You will fail.
It’s a brutal truth, but also a bit uplifting. You can’t be expected to be perfect all the time. Just do the best you can. That’s what it means to live. To live is to fail. To paraphrase Beckett, next time fail better.
BTW: The Watchmage of Old New York is 99 cents for the holidays. Ebooks (and paperbacks) make great stocking stuffers *hint hint hint*