Androids and Civilisation

So, a few months ago I joined a book club. I’ve always wanted to, and probably for the same reasons as most people do: firstly, because just discussing books with like-minded people is a joy, and second, to broaden my reading range. I’ve fallen into the security of reading novels and genres that I love, which is fine. But I’ve always been consumed by the sheer amount of stuff out there that I have yet to read; that no matter how much I read, it’s never enough. Joining a book club was a way to try and redress that balance if I could.
This months books were ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ by Philip K. Dick and ‘A Short History of Progress’ by Ronald Wright. Two books that I probably would never have got around to reading.
The former is considered a science fiction classic and was a book I very much enjoyed. (The fact Dick wrote the novel on amphetamines is, as a struggling writer myself, almost astonishing). The alienation of main character Deckard is superbly drawn by Dick, and his struggle to understand and figure out empathy really resonated with me. The fictional empathy test that is used to discover the identity of an android was a very clever device to ask questions about human morality and the defining qualities that make us human.
Wright’s book talks about the history of civilisations and charts a thread throughout history of civilisations that have collapsed due to depletion of resources, using Easter Island and Sumar as examples. The short book asks whether we as a society are facing the same threat to our civilisation and if so, what can be done about it.
So, one dystopian novel and a non-fiction book based on a series of lectures. Two very different works, and both books that I am glad I read. The push to explore new realms of literature has been the great pleasure of joining a book club. I found conversation with complete strangers quite difficult at first but I’ve grown into it. There are always those who talk more than others anyway – we certainly have those in my group (in fact going off on tangents is the only negative thing I can say about the people in mine, they tend to regularly go off-topic) so just sitting and listening is perfectly acceptable.
Whatever floats your boat, really. But if you are thinking of joining one, just go ahead and do it. Immersing oneself in chat about fiction for a couple of hours a month can only be a pleasure.