Last month at Comic-Con, the first trailer for the second season of Westworld was revealed. Featured, of course, was beloved Dolores Abernathy (played by Evan Rachel Wood), who last season we saw as possibly the first and only host to begin independently gaining human consciousness (well, maybe?).
There are a whole lot of questions that still need answering from season one, but I’m not going to try to answer them here. Instead, let’s talk about Dolores’s character: yes, she’s gaining consciousness, but she’s still often pretty meek. The season two trailer has this one dramatic shot of her riding a horse with a look of determination in her eyes. Great! Let’s see more of that for Dolores! But great learning comes not only from dreaming of landscapes and shooting pistols. Even in the period of time Westworld mimics, there were books, and people could learn from them. I’m not 100% positive Dolores knows how to read (does she?) but there’s no evidence against it yet, so…
In order to help facilitate Dolores Abernathy’s badass coming of age (as it were), here are a few books that, while possibly traumatic to a human-like robot, will also hopefully be illuminating. These books are about young women taking charge, breaking the chains of expectation. Read up, Dolores – we’re rooting for you!
Heartless by Marissa Mayer
Catherine has a destiny: to become the queen. Even in the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland such things matter, and when a king marks you as his favorite you’d better hop to. But Catherine doesn’t have any interest in being queen. No, she’s going to use her baking skills to open a shop and share her sweet talents with the world. Catherine’s mother isn’t having it, and she and Catherine head to a royal ball fully expecting the proposal to come from the king. What happens when Catherine meets someone else entirely and finds that she’s actually into him? Who is the mysterious Jest? And how will Catherine maintain her own destiny in the thorny world of Wonderland?
The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden
Okay, so personal robots are commonplace in South Africa in this novel by Nicky Drayden. Moreover, they’re available and making life go a bit more smoothly for the working class, not only serving the wealthy. So all is well and good, except, well, it isn’t. Good, that is. No, there’s an AI uprising coming, a really nasty drug epidemic, and, oh yeah, also a vengeful goddess. Demigoddess, but really, when someone is gaining power from the blood and sweat of humans, the demi part doesn’t seem so important. A fantastic cast of characters come together in unlikely ways, but really, Dolores will probably be paying attention to that uprising most of all…
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
Perhaps the most difficult book on this list for Dolores, The Windup Girl serves up a vision of a future world in which rather than a Westworld to entertain folks, there are simply robots–called New People–who’ve been designed to do certain jobs that the hosts of Westworld do unawares. Emiko is one of these; she was meant to serve her master but he’s left her, and she’s beginning to realize what that means. Raped nightly in front of a crowd at a club, Emiko can’t change the way she was made. But she can, slowly, with time, begin to fight the way she was made to behave. Dolores, take note. Seriously.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
What would happen if the hosts of Westworld ended up out in the real world? Mingling with the human population, who would know they were hosts? That’s basically what happens in the world of this book. Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, and after androids escape into the world, he is called in to track them down and kill them. Except that Rick meets an android so plausibly, convincingly human that he falls in love with her. How is that even possibly though? Well, I don’ know about you, but I’m head over heels with Dolores, and she’d probably be able to take me out in a second if I were a bounty hunter… So maybe this is a good strategy, actually.