HBO’s new series, Westworld, is a big sprawling story set in a future where humans have begun imbuing robots with sentience in order to make a large, corporately owned theme park, more immersive for its rich clientele. It is based on the 1970s Michael Crichton movie of the same name where Androids in a Western based theme park become murderous and start to terrorize its patrons. Unlike the movie, the show seems to be developing some bigger questions, such as how is consciousness developed and what is a creators ethical responsibility for its creation as well as examining what is entertainment and what will immersive game playing experiences look like in the future. Overall, it is a great viewing experience, that balances a fun story while still letting its audience delve into references such as Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Alice in Wonderland, Hieronymus Bosch, and Julian Jaynes’ theory of the Bicameral Mind.
If you have been enjoying the show or are just interested in some some of the themes or genres it presents, then try out some of these titles we have at the Prairie State College Library.
Blood meridian: or, The evening redness in the West
by Cormac McCarthy
Based on incidents that took place in the southwestern United States and Mexico around 1850, this novel chronicles the crimes of a band of desperados, with a particular focus on one, “the kid,” a boy of fourteen. An epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America’s westward expansion, Blood Meridian brilliantly subverts the conventions of the Western novel and the mythology of the “wild west.” Based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s, it traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into the nightmarish world where Indians are being murdered and the market for their scalps is thriving.
Do androids dream of electric sheep?
by Philip K. Dick
It was January 2021, and Rick Deckard had a license to kill. Somewhere among the hordes of humans out there, lurked several rogue androids. Deckard’s assignment–find them and then…”retire” them. Trouble was, the androids all looked exactly like humans, and they didn’t want to be found!
Weighing in from the cutting-edge frontiers of science, today’s most forward-thinking minds explore the rise of “machines that think.”
Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by noting, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Others, conversely, have trumpeted a new age of “superintelligence” in which smart devices will exponentially extend human capacities. No longer just a matter of science-fiction fantasy (2001, Blade Runner, The Terminator, Her, etc.), it is time to seriously consider the reality of intelligent technology, many forms of which are already being integrated into our daily lives. In that spirit, John Brockman, publisher of Edge. org (“the world’s smartest website” – The Guardian), asked the world’s most influential scientists, philosophers, and artists one of today’s most consequential questions: What do you think about machines that think?
The Ox-bow Incident
by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
Set in 1885, The Ox-Bow Incident is a searing and realistic portrait of frontier life and mob violence in the American West. First published in 1940, it focuses on the lynching of three innocent men and the tragedy that ensues when law and order are abandoned. The result is an emotionally powerful, vivid, and unforgettable re-creation of the Western novel, which Clark transmuted into a universal story about good and evil, individual and community, justice and human nature.
The complete stories of J.G. Ballard
by J.G. Ballard
Short story, ‘The Largest Theme Park in the World’, describes a Europe of the near future, ‘the first totalitarian system based on leisure’. Former pilot Paul Sinclair drives his young doctor wife Jane to the French Riviera when she takes up a post at the exclusive high-tech community of Eden-Olympia. The multinational corporations behind the business park are conducting a psychological laboratory there, a huge experiment in how to ‘hot-house the future’. They become aware of the violence and paranoia under the project’s glossy surfaces and its increasingly sinister undercurrents: sado-masochistic sex, robberies and racist attacks, unexplained murders. Jane falls into promiscuity and drug addiction, while Paul investigates the death of the former medical director of this ‘Alcatraz-sur-Mer’ in a deranged shooting spree.