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This essay is an exploration of the concept of artificially created men as presented in two novels. I will try to find out if there is some kind of inherent difference between a ``real'' human being and an artificial simulacrum of a man. I base my discussion on the treatment of the subject in the two novels Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The books are separated by 150 years and this of course gives them different approaches to the subject.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in 1797. Her parents were William Godwin, philosopher and novelist, and Mary Wollstonecraft, an early feminist. In 1816 she married the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley after his wife had committed suicide. During a rainy visit in Switzerland that year, she and her husband together with Lord Byron and his physician John William Polidori decided that each of them should write a ghost story. Only Polidori and Mary Shelley finished their stories; he produced The Vampyre (1819) and she Frankenstein. Mary edited and notated her husband's works after his death in 1822 and also wrote a few more novels, none of which even begin to approach the fame and lasting power of Frankenstein. She died in 1851.

J. A. V. Chapple notes in Science and Literature in the Nineteenth Century that Mary Shelley's ``theme of perilous scientific interference with the fundamental mysteries of life makes Frankenstein the prototype of numerous works of science fiction.'' (pp. 37-38) Within the field of science fiction, Frankenstein is regarded as the first science fiction novel with as much consensus as one can expect from a field that has yet to agree on a definition of itself.

Philip K. Dick lived from 1928 to 1982, most of the time in California. He is considered one of the most important writers in science fiction though perhaps not one of the best known. During much of his life he wrote tremendous amounts but only late in his life and posthumously has he received any critical attention to speak of. During his last years, he suffered from schizophrenia and had a religious experience which he spent the rest of his life analyzing at several thousand pages' length. After his death it was discovered that in addition to all the science fiction that he published, he had also written a number of mainstream novels but not been able to publish them. Today, most (perhaps all) of these novels have seen print.

Many of Philip K. Dick's stories have quite simple plots. They can be read on this basic level, taking only plot into account and still be enjoyed. In most of his works, however, there are more complex issues involved. Two common themes are the uncertainty of perception and the illusory nature of reality. Nothing in a book by Dick is quite what it seems.

There is a tremendous amount of criticism available on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein but unfortunately very little of it has proved to be relevant to this study. Almost invariably, critics read the novel so that the monster comes out as a metaphor for something like for instance industrialism. Other common approaches are to read Frankenstein in the context of Mary Shelley's life or as a cautionary tale on the risks of aspiring to godhood. My approach to regard the monster as ``only a monster'' seems rather uncommon.

As for Dick, there is also a rather large body of criticism available. Much of it is concerned with questions like artificiality and the problematic nature of reality. In the case of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, however, the situation is slightly different. The novel has had the quite successful film adaption Blade Runner and much of the available criticism is mainly concerned with the film version which has large differences from the novel.

In the genre of science fiction, Peter Fitting states in ``Futurecop: The Neutralization of Revolt in Blade Runner'',

the robot and its ancestors and relatives have been used - at least since Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - as a figure for collective anxieties about the dangers of science and technology. At the same time, the robot has often been taken positively, as a figure of the labor-saving possibilities of technology (as summed up in the fiction of Isaac Asimov). (p. 341)

There is, indeed, a lot of science fiction with robots in it, but only seldom are the robots used to inquire into the nature of humanity. More often they are just useful machines or, as Frankenstein is often read to show, devices to show us that not all knowledge is good; there are things that man is not meant to know.

I will now start to look at the two novels and their treatments of the concept of artificial men. I will point out both similarities and differences in their approaches to this subject. One point where the novels differ is in the genesis of the artificial men.

In Frankenstein, the monster is created by Victor Frankenstein infusing the ``spark of being'' into a creature that he has constructed from various human parts gathered from corpses. We never see exactly how the androids in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are constructed but it is clear that they are machines of some sort. While this could be seen as quite important, I have chosen to think of both the monster and the androids as artificially created men and leave it there.

In this essay, I will study several different areas related to the concept of artificial men. One of the areas is the relationship between the simulacra and the society that created them. How are the simulacra received by the humans that surround them? What is the reason for their creation? Another even more central area that I see in both novels is the search for a definition of humanity. In both works, the presence in society of artificial men that in many ways resemble humans give rise to a search for the critical properties that can be said to define humanity. The artificial men are put in a number of situations where one would expect a human being to react in one way and a machine or construct in another. As we shall see, this is not always the case. In fact, our expectations are often turned upside-down completely, thus leaving open the question of what really defines a human being.

I will analyze each of the novels in turn. Each chapter is headed by an analysis of the reception of the simulacrum into society. I then examine the comparisons between the simulacrum and humans that are made in a variety of situations where the concept of ``humanity'' can be said to be questioned. Both novels contain a number of scenes where we see an artificial man behave in a way that we normally reserve for humans and, similarly, scenes where various humans behave in non-human(e) ways. This is followed by a conclusion where I compare the findings from the novels. Here we see that in most of cases that show humans and artificial men reacting to the situations where different defining characteristics of ``being human'' are being tested, the humans are the ones that fail to behave in a ``human'' way. Finally, there is a brief analysis of the narration and how the way the stories are told can be said to influence the stories themselves.

Throughout this article, I will use the word ``human'' both to denote a member of the human race and to describe personality traits that are good or in accordance with accepted moral ideals. I consider it human, for instance, to help another person that is in danger. This double usage might be seen as a little problematic since what I am looking for are the characteristics that define what makes someone human. I will examine how each of the novels test both humans and artificial men against the criteria that are normally implicit in the word ``human'' to get at the criteria that defines humanity.