From the beginning, the new Battlestar Galactica has taken ideas from many sources (including its namesake, of course), but the most notable borrowing point for my money has been Philip Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. To put it simply: both feature robots that look like humans and explore the moral and practical implications of that notion. And, well, both feature some flesh and blood robots that want to help humans and some that want to kill them. In Electric Sheep, they’re called replicants; in Galactica, cylons.
What’s interesting in Galactica, though, is the way it has turned the tables on some of Dick’s ideas. For instance, it’s the robots who are on the run in Electric Sheep where the humans are the hunted in Galactica. In Dick’s book, the robots are individuals, each one different. In Galactica, the robots are copies of specific humans and each has hundreds of duplicates.
Another clever reversal takes place in the most recent Battlestar episode (207). Fans may recall a scene at the end of Blade Runner (the film adaptation of Electric Sheep) where human Rick Deckard looks to gather replicant Rachel and go on the run, hiding her from authorities who would “retire” her. Rick asks her: “Do you love me?” She nods. “Do you trust me?” She nods again. And they’re out the door.
In last week’s Battlestar, a similarly tense situation arises when cylon Sharon makes a disturbingly vague assertion about needing to take matters into her own hands. When Helo expresses concern, she asks him: “Do you love me?” He nods. “Do you trust me?” He nods again. And the new Sharon goes on to prove herself where the old Sharon failed.