Cornell University's incoming freshmen are lucky: their summer reading assignment for this year is Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Cornell's Carl A. Kroch Library invited me to curate an exhibit on the novel's bibliographic history and broad influence (including its slightly more famous stepchild, Blade Runner). The exhibit is now open and runs through October 8th, but don't worry if you're not planning a trip to Ithaca in the next few weeks-- an online version of the exhibit is available on Cornell's website. I had always enjoyed Androids, but I gained a new level of appreciation for it in researching this exhibit (which is my first official curatorial credit, hurrah).
From my introductory essay:
Dick once described himself as “a fictionalizing philosopher, not a novelist.” He saw his works as explorations of two primary questions: “What is reality?” and “What is human?” Androids enthusiastically tackles the second question, skillfully fusing its ideas about cruelty and empathy into a compelling detective story. Other works in his oeuvre explore the question as thoroughly--for instance, the novel We Can Build You and the speech “The Android and the Human.” But none do so in so entertaining a fashion as Androids.
This is turning out to be a very busy PKD year for me: in addition to this exhibition, I've read (and will shortly be reviewing, for the SFRA Review) the long-awaited final volume of the Selected Letters of Philip K. Dick. And, most importantly and excitingly, I've joined the team of scholars that is assembling a new, two-volume selection of previously-unpublished theological material from Dick's Exegesis (previously mentioned, prior to my involvement, here). They've got a great group working on this project, and they're doing the job exactly how it should be done. There is absolutely brilliant stuff in there that will soon see the light of day for the first time... and needless to say, I'm pretty thoroughly thrilled. More on that as publicity and propriety allow. In the meantime, check out the exhibit!