ANDROIDS
   1) Film (1982). New World. Dir Aaron Lipstadt, starring Klaus Kinski, Brie Howard, Norbert Weisser, Crofton Hardester, Don Opper. Screenplay James Reigle and Opper, based on a story by Will Reigle. 80 mins. Colour.
   The co-scriptwriter, Don Opper, plays Max, the innocent ANDROID (part flesh, part metal) who does imitations of James Stewart and works for mad Dr Daniel (Kinski) in a space laboratory, soon invaded by three criminals. He experiences sex (Max, you're a doll!), is programmed to become a ruthless killer just as we were accepting him as human, participates in the awakening of a female android, learns Daniel's true nature (a plot twist stolen from ALIEN) and gets the girl. A is made with skill and panache, is good on android politics (for which one might read working-class politics), and is one of the most confident sf movies yet made, despite its low budget. The scriptwriters are infinitely more at home with the themes of written sf than is usual in sf cinema. Lipstadt's subsequent sf movie, CITY LIMITS (1984), was disappointing.
   2) The term android, which means manlike, was not commonly used in sf until the 1940s. The first modern use seems to have been in Jack WILLIAMSON's The Cometeers (1936; 1950). The word was initially used of automata, and the form androides first appeared in English in 1727 in reference to supposed attempts by the alchemist Albertus Magnus (c1200-1280) to create an artificial man. In contemporary usage android usually denotes an artificial human of organic substance, although it is sometimes applied to manlike machines, just as the term ROBOT is still occasionally applied (as by its originator Karel CAPEK) to organic entities. The conventional distinction was first popularized by Edmond HAMILTON in his CAPTAIN FUTURE series, where Captain Future's sidekicks were a robot, an android and a brain in a box. The most important modern exceptions to the conventional rule are to be found in the works of Philip K.DICK. The notion of artificial humans is an old one, embracing the GOLEM of Jewish mythology as well as alchemical homunculi. Until the 19th century, though, it was widely believed that organic compounds could not be synthesized, and that humanoid creatures of flesh and blood would therefore have to be created either by magical means or, as in Mary SHELLEY's Frankenstein (1818), by the gruesome process of assembly. Even after the discovery that organic molecules could be synthesized, some time passed before, in R.U.R. (1920; trans 1923), Capek imagined androids grown in vats as mass-produced slaves; these robots were made so artfully as to acquire souls, and eventually conquered their makers. There was some imaginative resistance to the idea of the android because it seemed a more outrageous breach of divine prerogative than the building of humanoid automata. Several authors toyed with the idea but did not carry it through: the androids in The Uncreated Man (1912) by Austin Fryers and in The Chemical Baby (1924) by J.Storer CLOUSTON prove to be hoaxes. Edgar Rice BURROUGHS played a similar trick in The Monster Men (1913; 1929), but did include some authentic artificial men as well, as he did also in Synthetic Men of Mars (1940). In the early sf PULP MAGAZINES androids were rare, authors concentrating almost exclusively on mechanical contrivances. It was not until after WWII that Clifford SIMAK wrote the influential Time and Again (1951; vt First He Died 1953), the first of many stories in which androids seek emancipation from slavery; here they are assisted in their cause by the discovery that, in common with all living creatures, they have ALIEN commensals - sf substitutes for souls. Sf writers almost invariably take the side of the androids against their human masters, sometimes eloquently: the emancipation of the biologically engineered Underpeople is a key theme in Cordwainer SMITH's Instrumentality series; a Millennarian android religion is memorably featured in Robert SILVERBERG's Tower of Glass (1970); and androids whose personalities are based on literary models are effectively featured in Port Eternity (1982) by C.J.CHERRYH. Cherryh's CYTEEN (1988) is one of the few novels to attempt to present a society into which androids are fully integrated. Other pleas for emancipation are featured in Down among the Dead Men (1954) by William TENN, Slavers of Space (1960 dos; rev as Into the Slave Nebula 1968) by John BRUNNER and Birthright (1975) by Kathleen SKY, but the liberated androids in Charles L.GRANT's The Shadow of Alpha (1976) and its sequels are treated far more ambivalently. An android is used as an innocent observer of human follies in Charles PLATT's comedy Less than Human (1986), and to more sharply satirical effect in Stephen FINE's Molly Dear: The Autobiography of an Android, or How I Came to my Senses, Was Repaired, Escaped my Master, and Was Educated in the Ways of the World (1988). Androids also feature, inevitably, in stories which hinge on the confusion of real and ersatz, including Made in USA (1953) by J.T.MCINTOSH, Synth (1966) by Keith ROBERTS, the murder mystery Fondly Fahrenheit (1954) by Alfred BESTER, and Replica (1987) by Richard BOWKER. The confusion between real and synthetic is central to the work of Philip K.Dick, who tends to use the terms android and robot interchangeably; he discusses the importance this theme had for him in his essays The Android and the Human (1972) and Man, Android and Machine (1976), both of which are reprinted in The Dark-Haired Girl (coll 1988). His most notable novels dealing with the subject are DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? (1968) and We Can Build You (1972). Stories featuring androids designed specifically for use at least in part as sexual partners have become commonplace as editorial taboos have relaxed; examples include The Silver Metal Lover (1982) by Tanith LEE and The Hormone Jungle (1988) by Robert REED. Science Fiction Thinking Machines (anth 1954) ed Groff CONKLIN has a brief section featuring android stories; The Pseudo-People (anth 1965 vt Almost Human: Androids in Science Fiction) ed William F.NOLAN mostly consists of stories of robots capable of imitating men.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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