It’s on my list: HBO’s newest sci-fi/western hit. As a fan of sci-fi, I should be ashamed of myself. I’ve loved everything from Star Wars to Star Trek to Terminator to Blade Runner to Firefly. And yet I still haven’t watched Westworld.
It’s going to happen. Soon. After I finish Black Mirror. And Stranger Things. Because I love sci-fi. Especially all the gritty, dystopian stuff about humans and artificial life. I myself am currently working on a book project about killer androids.
From what I’ve read about the plot, Westworld is about an amusement park where humans go to indulge in all their violent, sadistic impulses. What makes this prospect “morally acceptable” is the fact that the park is staffed by androids. So human tourists can come and go as they please, robbing, raping, and shooting, because all the victims are robots.
At least, I’m pretty sure that’s the plot of the show. And I gotta admit, it sounds really interesting. Sci-fi in general has taken a darker, more dystopian tone recently. We see shows like Black Mirror projecting a future ruled by technology and the worst of human nature behind it. We’ve had shows like Battlestar Galactica questioning the very nature of humanity, in a war between humans and cyborgs.
Robots are fascinating. Incredibly fascinating. Why: because they beg the question of how far we should go? Should humans have the power to engineer life? If so, what do they do with it. Westworld answers that question in the darkest way possible: enslavement. Subjectivity to vicious human force, simply as a pastime or spectator’s sport. Which is why I think the show has gained such a massive following.
I am always fascinated by the idea of artificial life in science fiction. Especially when the life begins to question itself. The questions are usually about purpose: why I am here? What am I here for? And more importantly: do I always obey the will of my masters? Or was I made for something better? These are the type of questions that my book character (XR-19) deals with in his life as a police assassin. And I believe that shows like Westworld are paving the way for these kinds of stories.
Shamefully, I haven’t seen Westworld. But it’s on my agenda, honest. I will get around to it. Once I finish Black Mirror (one episode left). And Stranger Things. Which will be soon. Very soon.