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Recommended Reading for Fans of Westworld: Cliff Notes

If you've stumbled here by accident, then there's a very good chance that none of this will make any sense to you. This is our condensed collection of recommended reading around HBO's sci-fi/western, Westworld

If you're the kind of person who prefers reading almost endless articles instead of straightforward and to-the-point reading lists, then you can should check out our endless meditation on just why these books might be of interest to Westworld fans.

    Jurassic Park

    Like Westworld, Jurassic Park is a Michael Crichton brainchild that focuses on a theme park collapsing under the weight of its own ambition. Unlike the movie, the book offers the reader something solid to sink their teeth into, with Ian Malcom's fractals and chaos theory underpinning the calamity.

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    Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom

    Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set in a future version of Disneyland, in a world beyond currency, where humans are effectively immortal. 

    It poses many similar issues about the self that Westworld does, though from a very different angle... though in this case those questions revolve around cloning rather than androids.

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    Sailing to Byzantium: Six Novellas

    Like Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, Sailing to Byzantium takes place in a future in which humans have effectively solved the problem of death. Society is largely dedicated to the reconstruction of past civilisations, offering the opportunity to live as the Romans or the Carthaginians did.

    As
     in Westworld, those cities are populated by people who are seen as less than human, the "temporaries."

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    The Illustrated Man

    The Illustrated Man includes a short story called "The Veldt," which features a virtual reality nursery in which children are effectively raised by an increasingly creepy artificial intelligence. 

    It's a genuinely odd vibe, but one that resonates weirdly well with Westworld's reality-within-a-broader-science-fiction-context.

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    Store Of The Worlds

    An NYRB Classics Original Robert Sheckley was an eccentric master of the American short story, and his tales, whether set in dystopic city­scapes, ultramodern advertising agencies, or aboard spaceships lighting out for hostile planets, are among the most startlingly original of the twentieth century. Today, as the new worlds, alternate universes, and synthetic pleasures Sheckley foretold become our reality, his vision begins to look less absurdist and more prophetic. This retrospective selection, chosen by Jonathan Lethem and Alex Abramovich, brings together the best of Sheckley’s deadpan farces, proving once again that he belongs beside such mordant critics of contemporary mores as Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern, and Thomas Pynchon.

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    Battle Royale: Remastered

    It's sad to live in a world where Battle Royale is easiest to describe in terms of how much it is like The Hunger Games... 

    It's relevant to Westworld not only for its portrayal of humanity in a situation in which violence is often the first response, but also for Kazuo Kiriyama, who acts as a reflection of Westworld's "man in black."

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    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    In any discussion of androids, robotics, and humanity, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep should get a deserved shoutout. You could be forgiven for thinking watching Blade Runner was enough, but there's plenty more here to justify going back.

    Essential reading.

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    The Complete Robot

    Asimov is rightly the writer we think of first when someone mentions robots. This recommendation could just have easily been made with I, Robot, Robot Dreams, or Robot Visions, but The Complete Robot puts together a fantastic series of short stories that grapple with Asimov's visions of what the future could mean for robotics.

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    The Surrogates

    Where Westworld is about the hosts' realisation of what it is to be a person, The Surrogates is about what is lost when people interact only through machines. It's an excellent series that follows an investigation into the double homicide of two people's robot proxies, with a detective who is slowly learning to understand the viewpoint of their killer.

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    The Ghost In The Shell, The: Vol. 1

    Like The Surrogates, Ghost in the Shell tackles questions of intelligence, agency, and personhood, but at the same time tracks the details of an increasingly complex case in which a criminal appears to be able to seize control of their victims' bodies. 

    To explain exactly why it's relevant here might spoil some of it, but we think it's something Westworld fans might appreciate.

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    C.L. Moore SF Gateway Omnibus

    C. L. Moore isn't nearly as well remembered as she should be, but Northwest of Earth and Shambleau in particular are a beautiful combination of science fiction and western. Set in the barren, red dust of Mars, they convey a sense of isolation that is somehow more-western-than-western.

    The Dark Tower I

    Stephen King's The Gunslinger had to appear somewhere on this list. Set in a post-apocalyptic desert whose people and wildlife have been ravaged by radiation and mutation, Roland (the gunslinger) chases his own "man in black" across the landscape. 

    Over the course of this and The Dark Tower series, he assembles a band of other gunslingers to help him in his quest to find the man in black and make his way to the Dark Tower. 

    It's a strange combination of sci-fi, western, and fantasy that works better than it has any right to, and it makes for compulsive reading.

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    Professor George Edward Challenger first made a name for himself as a travelling adventurer and investigator. Unfortunately, he has never succeeded in solving the greatest mystery of all... and ... Show More

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