19 March 2006

4. When Androids Dream by Paul Nowell

Androids have taken over the earth, and have largely beaten down any human opposition. In between the lowly humans and the androids are the Cybers, a combination that has humans enhanced with android gear.

In the beginning, human resistance was fierce, and George's parents were among the leaders of the Humans. They were captured and killed, and eventually the resistance movement was marginalized and beaten. Now the humans live on the edges of the Android and Cyber society, seen as weaker because they rely on their natural selves to survive rather than enhancements.

The as-yet-unfinished story, set in a future California, begins with George and Xian discussing Xian's plans concerning a new drug that makes androids dream. Because they are all linked telepathically, sharing a hive mind, of sorts, making/controlling one android dream affects them all. And if Xian can give the androids (who seem to be big drug abusers) a drug that she can control their dreams with she might be able to cause of disruption in the android power structure. The drug allows the resistance (or an anti-andie group), to get behind the hive mind's barriers.

George just lost his job at the city's biggest newspaper, and is down on his luck. He meets with Xian to discuss her plans, and then has a vision that spurs him to rejoin the human resistance. After the resistance group figures out who he is, and believe that he really is who he says he is, they share that the resistance movement has changed since his parents were involved. Instead of aiming to destroy the androids, the humans have made deals with them in order to survive.

Also involved is Solis, the sun's representative on earth. The sun is a sentient being, monitoring all that happens on the nearby planets, and is in communication with other stars. Pretty cool.

And Solis's friend, Arloff, a dog is involved with George as well. Seems dogs have been enhanced to have thinking, wondering, feeling powers on the scale of humans. And they, or at least Arloff, seem to look down on humans. Arloff follows George around at the request of Solis, who hears about George from the sun.

On the other side of the story is a new android Richard Powers, who has a new brain that is split into two sections, mimicking a human model. Powers is supposed to be able to create art, but so far has been considered a failure, with too much of his work being derivative of what he had in his memory.

Richard hangs with a powerful android crowd – a Hollywood power crowd, complete with drugs, drinking, and sex, but populated entirely by android machines.

So far Paul has written 35 pages and I am very into the story. Richard riffs about art, George riffs about how the resistance has sold out (but because George worked for The Man (The Andie?) as a reporter, he doesn't have much cred), and Alex Crowley, one of the powerful Hollywood androids allows us to see the world of android excess and power. More to come as I read more of what is written.

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