Androids as Metaphor, Tropes and Themes


Androids seem like a contemporary update of the idea of golems, doppelgangers, and other simulacra, which separates itself from the “natural” reproduction of humans by usually having the subject animated as a full-grown entity. This is an entity that possesses some version of the powers and mien of a full-grown person, but whatever intelligence lies within the entity was not derived from the “natural” ways of growth and is therefore alien. This is a useful trope to use, because the “natural” way of grown necessarily involves interaction with alien things, and the tension in the work becomes whether or not this alien entity can ever be truly understood and integrated.

As far as whether or not you can have narratives about androids on their own terms, I’d say: probably not? This might just be my own hot existential take, but I don’t think humans can really write about non-human things; you run into an interesting reversal of the Turing test where you would have to constantly be validating the how alien something is, and not accidentally describing some culture on the other side of the globe that you are ignorant of. I think that’s also why Androids are interesting, because they let people play around with concepts like the Turing test and Chinese Rooms, and all the syntactical tics that we cultivate to signal our personhood to each other.