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Do Androids dream of electric sheep? named 2018 UC Book of the Year

Amanda Jones

9 November 2017: The book which inspired Harrison Ford’s 1982 film Blade Runner and this year’s sequel Blade Runner 2049 starring Ryan Gosling has been named the 2018 University of Canberra Book of the Year.

Do Androids dream of electric sheep? is a science fiction novella by the late American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, it follows the story of investigator Rick Deckard as he hunts down six escaped androids in post-apocalyptic San Francisco after a nuclear global war.

The UC Book Project, now in its sixth year, provides a book to all commencing students and staff at the University with the aim to generate conversation, discussion and engagement within the community.

It was chosen as the 2018 UC Book of the Year by a panel of experts including Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Nick Klomp, University of Canberra Distinguished Professor Jen Webb, University Librarian Helen Taylor, journalist and writer Alia Papageorgiou and student Jane Healey.

Professor Webb said the winning novella has attracted steady attention throughout the decades since it was published.

“It hasn’t dated in terms of its language or orientation, and it is quite beautifully written, managing to address the demands of its genre while incorporating a truly literary voice and tone.”

She said the important issues it addresses made Do Androids dream of electric sheep? stand out from a shortlist of seven classic novellas.

“Perhaps the key issue is an existential one: what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be ethical? These are ancient questions in philosophy but they have taken on fresh urgency and interest in the face of contemporary IT and the development of individuals who are in fact robots, or who engage with others mainly through digital media,” she added.

With Blade Runner 2049 currently showing at cinemas, Professor Klomp hopes it will encourage an even wider audience to engage with the book.

“Both film interpretations of Androids are wonderfully scripted and shot, and elicit a lot of attention, discussion and fan engagement. We hope that those who do not typically read for pleasure will be encouraged through one or both movies to read the 2018 UC Book of the Year,” Professor Klomp said.

Since the UC Book Project started in 2013, nearly 12,000 books have been distributed to staff and students.

“We’ve had fantastic interest and engagement from the community and hope this will only grow with the addition of our sixth UC Book. We are delighted to be able to offer another point of difference for students who choose to study at the University of Canberra,” he added.

The inaugural UC Book of the Year for 2013 was Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey followed by Room by Emma Donoghue, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, The Strays by Emily Bitto and The White Earth by Andrew McGahan.