Butler & Dick Comparison : Numb & Mechanical

As Rye sits in Obsidian’s car, the mentally crippling emotions of “growing hopelessness, purposelessness” and “jealousy” remind the reader of the enslaved android’s dilemma (99). Rye’s “powerful urge to kill another person” stems not only from her own personal issues, but from the idea that someone could have more ability and access to knowledge and expression (99). Rye nearly snaps when she realizes how she is inferior to Obsidian due to her illiteracy and how easily he may or may not take the ability for granted. The scale of the complaint seems arbitrary, but one more issue is enough to nearly set her over the edge. Her gun has the same killing power of a determined Android like Roy before his father & creator. The text places the smoking gun in the hands of a mentally polarizing character and seems to ask the reader whether or not he or she empathizes with her.  Butler seems to be forcing the reader into deciding whether or not one cares if Rye hurts herself, or someone else, or both.  Separately, Butler establishes a hyper-focalization on Rye and Rye’s thoughts, whereas Dick spreads some of the world-building into the thought-experiments and androids themselves. Not to hammer the nail too much, but an emotionally numb and unpredictable narrator has the qualities of an insensitive android, but reads as more real and possible. So although the decision remains on how one values the needs of a troubled human vs. a programmed android, the reader response effect develops similarly from a close narration of the darkest of emotional lows.

Is Rachael an Android?

One of my favorite scenes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the Voigt-Kampff test on Rachael Rosen because, like Deckard, we’re trying to figure out if this woman is an android. Since the readers aren’t given much context about the post-World War Terminus beliefs, we’re kept in the dark mostly and have to guess if Rachael’s answers are acceptable responses. A film version of this scene would have to pay attention to what readers can’t do with a book. The watchers don’t depend on the how the needles move like how the readers do. The watchers of a film see the change in her expression and hear the inflection of her voice. The film uses different techniques to show her and the other androids’ ambiguity. On 20:01 Rachael looks at Deckard and pauses to smoke before answering his question. Nonchalantly smoking during an interview that determines whether or not the interviewed is an android shows off Rachael’s confidence that she’s human. She directly answers and takes her time unlike Leon who was nervous and constantly interrupted the interviewer. On 20:34 Rachael looks to the upper right briefly before Deckard interrupts her to show the watchers that she’s thinking instead of giving an automated response. On 20:53 there’s a dissolve transition that signifies the passage of time and Tyrell on 21:51 says there was 100 questions during the interview. At the time of the transition the watchers know Deckard has asked many questions and therefore didn’t know if she’s an android and the watchers can only guess if she is or not.