content by

Chris Beckett

Setting the Mood in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’ve never liked Blade Runner. I know it’s innovative, I know it’s been imitated by countless other movies (I’ve seen at least a dozen of them) but I’ve never been able to forgive it for cutting out the beating heart of the novel on which it was based.

Gone is Rick Deckard leafing through his Sidney’s catalogue and gazing through the windows of pet shops. Gone is the electric sheep, and all the other animals which sometimes seem real but then turn out to be electric too. Gone too is the religion of Mercerism, whose central story is exposed by androids as a blatant fake, and yet continues to be true in a way that androids simply can’t comprehend—and gone is the subtlety of that whole paradox about truth which is so central to Dick’s vision. And where is the Ajax model Mountibank Lead Codpiece? Where is the counterpart of Dick’s lovely prose, sometimes rushed and careless, but always muscular and vivid? And above all, where is the humour, the humour and the good humour, that characterises Dick’s work? In their place—what? The lazy sentimentality of ‘attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion’?

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That Was Awesome: Tony Ballantyne’s Dream Logic

From Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London:

There used to be an underground station opposite my building. Over the past year it had metamorphosed twice: first into a railway station, then into an inn. I remember the landlord holding court with his customers, telling us about the staircase leading down from his cellar into the tunnels through which the trains had once travelled. The tunnels had shrunk, he said, tightened like sphincters. What remained of those narrowed, fat-filled arteries was choked with black and green beetles, walking back and forth in long lines beneath the city, preyed on by silver snakes and cock rats.

A piece of writing like this is a lot more difficult to achieve than it might appear. We can all generate weirdness, but it’s a much harder thing to be able to generate weirdness that feels convincing and right.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

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