The Oankali is divided into three categories according to where they will live. Dinso are the ones who are gonna stay on Earth, the Toaht members will continue to live in the ship they are and Akjais will leave in the new ship. The Oankali understand that the survival of the species depend on them splitting and expanding, and they believe the future generations can reunited and will have a lot to exchanged. This idea sounds really strange to Lilith: “They probably won’t even know one another.” To what Jdahya answers: “No, they’ll recognize one another. Memory of a division is passed on biologically. I remember every one that has taken place in my family since we left the homeworld”(p.36).
This super species Memory is a fascinating idea. Humans don’t have that so the fact that we accumulate so many documents proving that we are related, so many family photo albums and, more recently, so much data on the Web that register our connections seems to be a desperate and not so efficient way to keep those people in our memory. The Oankali reject paper, pencil and any other external artifact that are not in connection with their bodies. Oankalis are “traders” who maintain a symbiotic relationship with everything that surrounds them. While humans, interact with this type of technology that we have now just by perceiving this inanimate objects that does interact with us in return. In that sense, we are split us from our records and we can not perpetuate our memories by heritage. That suggests that humans are less connected to their ancestors than Oankalis. It’s strange that Lilith cares so much about preserving a species that has much less ability of remembering her.
Dawns’s plot is centered on the Oankali, an alien specie that disturbingly differ from humans in their manner of existence. They look extremely different than us and they have three genders: male, female and ooloi. Brother and sisters usually mate in association with a ooloi. There is a logic in their system of breeding. The siblings’ genes combined keep and strengthen their desirable characteristics and the ooloi, called the “treasured strangers,” sort of balance out the combination, avoiding problems caused by interbreeding. Finally, they use genetic manipulation to alter themselves and their environment. From all the living things Oankali have encountered so far, they had extracted and manipulated genetic information as well as incorporated what they judged useful to their own genetic code. They are the result of a radical process of interbreeding and absorption of other species genetic material.
In essence, the Oankali, offensively, differ from humans. Indeed, they contradict the most fundamental foundations for human beings: They blur and rearrange gender differences, family structures and the very way species manage to survive. Their appearance is shocking at first but the possibility their lives represent to us is, to say the least, blasphemous and stunning.
In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (DADoDE) empathy is what distinguish humans from androids and In Caves of Steel (CoS) the first law governing robot’s artificial brains is to never hurt humans. CoS ends with a human and a robot walking out the door “arm-to-arm” because in that plot robots are programmed to respect and enhance human life. This possibility is negated DADoDE. The consequence is, naturally, that in DADoDE humans cannot associate with androids because in doing so they are risking their lives.
Psychopaths is an equivalent reference in our modern society. They are considered monsters, not-human. Laking the ability to empathize with other humans make them dangerous individuals that must be kept apart from society. As DADoDE emphasizes the empathy with animals is a good sign that a human care about others and he or she will nurture the development of the two species. Many psychopaths have the history of torturing and/or killing animals. We see that as a sign of lack of empathy and remorse. If more evidences confirm that, we target that those people as threats.
The difference between the two sci-fi plots are the fact that a machine (android, robots) can be friendly or deadly. In CoS how they are built is what determines the relationship with humans. In DADoDE is an inherit defect of machines that dissociate them from humans.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (DADoES) mixes science fiction with existentialism and illustrate the human search for identity using other forms of existence as reference. DADoES is a novel that very descriptively asserts the intertwined relationship between animals, humans, machines and god. In a post- apocalyptic future, the god is Mercer, the one who is compassionate and forbear offenders throwing rocks at him. On the other side of the spectrum, the main character of DADoES is a human named Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter. Rick is in search of his own identity which is constantly influenced by his relationship with androids, animals and god. Mainly, Rick chases and kills androids in order to get cash reward to buy a real animal. Having a real animal is a sign of empathy and high status. It’s believed that the fundamental difference between humans and androids is the human ability to empathize with others. Rick uses the Voigt-Kampff test to establish that difference but he also chooses to transgresses that barrier having sex with an android. At the end, Rick experiences being Mercer. All the distinctions are blurred and Ricks’ search leads him nowhere.
The analysis of a specific important passage:
“The destruction of what you people call evil, is less just and desirable than the conversion of this evil into what you call good”
At the end of the book, R. Dannel states the above sentence. As a robot, it obviously can not understand religion and ethics, however, with that statement, and through logic, R. Dannel seems to reach the knowledge behind what we call forgiveness. The robot improve greatly on doing so not because it is able to feel mercy or any other human abstraction but it does because it is able to emend one of its features (that is also one of its limitation) which is the procedural intake of information literally. By open up to the possibility of reevaluating evil for good, the robot is no longer stuck with the logic of literals; it has evolve to understand and designate different (possibly multiple) meanings/values.
A possible analysis of the title of the book “Caves of Steel” indicate the benefits of this era when the influence of humans and robots over each other lead to evolution and expansion of those two cultures over the universe. The world “cave” sign to some sort of primitive stage. The world “steel” which is in fact the combination of Carbon and Iron represents the mix of humans and robots. This combination is also represented by the partnership established between Elijah (human) and R. Dannel (robot).
The fact that machines can help humans perform numerous tasks that otherwise would be impossible to us and the fact that this certain robot’s culture dictated by logic and efficiency would most likely help us to evolve to live in other world is pretty much untestable. What is interesting about the passage selected is that this experience of “Caves of Steel,” named the coexistence of humans and robots ends up being a symbiotic process. The robot also evolved. Another significant passage reads: “… and only Earth, past redemption” alluding to the time when medievalists were forgiven and their sin and conviction was turned into something useful, and they were used to disseminate the idea of colonizing other worlds. “Earth past redemption” also marks the idea that humans and robots forgive their differences and evolve together.
Around the Question of Differences between CoS and Our Own World
An interesting difference between the humanity actual state in the Earth and this other fictional stage depicted in CoS is the distinction between the systems of remuneration and reward. Today, most humans live out of the salary while in CoS they have a sort of status system that guarantee certain privileges according to their ranks. On chapter nine there is a critique to the economy based on money. The time humanity used that system is considered barbarous; the “fight-for-the-buck” is seen as savage competition. Indeed, in CoS, overcoming the individualism and materialism of this era was the great evolutionary step they took. Nevertheless, the book shows how much of their privacy and free will that cost. Detective Baley, numerous time through the story, do his job only for fear that he and his family could lose their privileges.
What make this difference interesting is that truly their economy system is not so different than what we have now. Besides the fact that we use currencies to acquire things and services, we are very often working against our will just to guarantee special access, special food, special privileges in general, for us and for our families. We are trapped by our consumption habits. In the same way, we depend on and perpetuate the city’s structure because we believe that doing so we are reaching a better existence.
Another remarkable discrepancy that also cares some seeds of truth for us is the fact that we don’t hate robots. In fact, we don’t even have that sort of technology available in the market for everyone. However, considering the technology that we do have, there is a layer of the population that do behave like the medievalist from CoS. I think that is safe to say that most people born in or before the 80’s have great difficult assimilation technological advances. Like the medievalists, they have this sort of nostalgia, they resent this period in which technology is so predominant and they refuse to evolve with it.