Friday, March 28, 2008

We Can Build You!

A loyal Boxer knowingly sent me this photo the other day. I say knowingly because PKD was really into old Abe Lincoln; most notably in his book We Can Build You.

I've always been fascinated by We Can Build You because it basically functions as a prequel to PKD's masterpiece Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Basically We Can Build You depicts some of the first androids that were made by the Rosen Corporation, before it started manufacturing them for off-world colonization. These first androids were not based on societal needs, rather they were built for entertainment purposes. And PKD found nothing more decidedly fascinating than Abraham Lincoln. So, along with Edwin Stanton, Lincoln is the first android built. The book, as well non-fiction historical sources, postulates that Lincoln suffered from schizophrenia. Hence, in We Can Build You the android-Lincoln is gripped by an extreme melancholy that is quite haunting. Some of the android-Lincoln's monologues are the warmest and most humane of the novel, much more so that the living, flesh and blood humans' discourse. This is a common thread in PKD's books, robots that are more "human" than humans.

Everyone's a critic, and so am I. So I'll be blunt and say that We Can Build You may not be one of PKD's most entertaining novels. But it is definitely one of his most philosophical, and a very good one to read prior to Androids if you are truly committed to PKD's vision.

Also,  it has something for all you history channel buffs out there who can't get enough of Abraham Lincoln. I recommend trying to get a hold of the 1983 Daw version which has one of my favorite PKD covers, depicting the Lincoln simulacrum in a very Atari-style that was popular at the time; and Bob Pepper did it of course.

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