Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

TRoOB: Electric Ant

Philip K. Dick has been a mighty force in science fiction for decades, albeit an odd one. His primary mark has been on movies that bear the names and some of the ideas (if not, usually, the actual stories) of his novels, but relatively few people have actually read the originals. A major change to that has been the adaptation that Boom! Studios is currently doing of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book from which Blade Runner was adapted. If you aren't following that, it's highly recommended: a full-length word-for-word adaptation of the novel, which turns out to be far deeper (and IMO significantly better) than the movie. But for today, let's talk about David Mack's adaptation of the short story Electric Ant, recently published by Marvel.

Electric Ant is set in much the same playground as DADoES -- indeed, there are hints that it might be the same world -- but takes a very different slant. Whereas the famous novel is about a human detective hunting androids, Electric Ant focuses on a concept that lurks in the background of that and Blade Runner. Our hero, Garson Poole, is the successful CEO of a company in the mid-future: he is successful, he has a beautiful girlfriend, and life is good. Until the day he gets into an accident, and discovers that he is actually an "electricant", a sophisticated but somewhat obsolete android.

The five-issue story is entirely about him exploring his own identity. He searches for why he was built and who controls him, and begins to muck with his own innards -- especially once he realizes that he has circuits that were designed to prevent him from realizing what he was, altering his perceptions of reality. Deciding that this is no longer tolerable, he starts to screw around with the circuitry that interprets that reality for his brain. And at that point, things start to get *very* weird.

Make no mistake: this story is strange, trippy, mystical stuff that makes DADoES (or any popularization of Dick's work) look downright down-to-earth by comparison. The hard SF fan is likely to throw it across the room at one of the points where the logic simply goes off at right angles to normal reality. But if you're a fan of the sort of mystical SF that reached its pinnacle in the 70s, this is pretty neat: no-holds-barred Dick, seriously examining questions that Descartes only began to scratch at. It's a tight little graphic novel, and worth reading if you want to bend your brain a bit...
Tags: reviews, troob

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