Do Androids Dream of Black Sheep? Reading Race into Philip K. Dick

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Abstract

The TV set shouted, ‘ – duplicates the halcyon days of the pre-Civil War Southern states! Either as body servants or tireless field hands…. [a] loyal, trouble-free companion’ for all settlers.
‘I think what I and my family of three noticed most of all was the dignity… Having a servant you can depend on… I find it reassuring.’ (Dick 1999: 16-17)

No, not a neo-Confederate promise to secessionists fleeing a multicultural United States and a testimony from a happy slave-owner, but a fictional advert promising a robot slave to any human prepared to abandon a post-apocalyptic America for a new settlement on Mars, backed up with a Martian emigrant extolling the virtues of her robot factotum. Like many of Philip K. Dick’s novels, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) offers a philosophical exploration of such themes as consciousness, emotion and the nature of humanity. As important, it operates as a commentary on the response of slaves to servitude and as a quasi-slave narrative that sheds light on race relations in the United States.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-61
Number of pages17
JournalFoundation: The International Review of Science Fiction
Volume49
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

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