Millions of viewers were captivated by HBO’s latest hit: Westworld. The series takes place in a technologically advanced Western amusement park, in which androids—called “hosts”—live to serve the fantasies of high-paying guests. These guests visit the park to do whatever they wish (including killing hosts, who are then fixed and put back into service). That is, until some of the hosts realize that they’re living a lie.
Since season one of Westworld has come to a close—and, according to HBO’s programming president Casey Bloys, we’re unlikely to see another season until 2018—we’re recommending eight books to fill your void for violent Westerns, self-aware androids, and general epic entertainment.
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Tower of Glass
In this science fiction novel by multiple award-winner Silverberg, Simeon Krug is a scientist who created androids to serve humanity; but, Thor—his most faithful android—believes that Krug intends to make androids equal to humans. When the androids realize that this is not the case, and Krug only considers them to be mere objects, disaster strikes and the androids rebel against society. Similar to many hosts who question their state of being in Westworld, the androids in Tower of Glass come to the unsettling conclusion that the humans created them with nothing but servitude in mind.
Showdown at Guyamas
If you’re a fan of the epic, Western nature of Westworld, then you’ll revel in Showdown at Guyamas. The first book in the Spectros series follows Dr. Spectros, the most brilliant magician in the Old West, as he tracks down the sorcerer Blackschuster—the man who stole the woman the he loved. An epic showdown between the two in this Western fantasy novel will give you all the violence you’re missing from Westworld.
The 10th Victim
In the future, war no longer exists; but, much like the visitors to Westworld, people hunt and kill each other for sport and entertainment for the masses. No one seems to mind the violence … that is, until the players begin to exhibit confusing human feelings. It’s an interesting commentary on greed and violence that will be relatable to Westworld viewers who find the premise of paying to kill others, even if they’re androids, downright terrible.
King’s dark fantasy series contains eight novels and a novella—giving you plenty of reading material between now and 2018. And, as a bonus, a film adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey is slated for 2017. The book follows Roland Deschain, the last living member of the “gunslingers,” who is on a mission to find the Dark Tower—said to be the connection between all universes—in the midst of his crumbling world. This world in which he lives is like a magical, American Old West, and—like Westworld—is incredibly violent. Those who love the gory, Western aspects of the show, and those who are intrigued by the search for a deeper level of the game, will be immersed in this world.
Our Lady of the Ice
Robots? Check. Amusement park? Check. Violence? Yup, it’s got that, too. Our Lady of the Ice takes place in an Argentinian colony in Antarctica called Hope City. While the androids that live in the amusement park were once programmed to entertain tourists, they are now needed to help maintain the production of atomic power. Humans and androids alike fight for independence in this thrilling science fiction adventure.
Written in 1920 by a Czech writer who was nominated by the Nobel Prize, this classic was way ahead of its time. The play introduced the word “robot” to the English language and has since been impactful on the science fiction genre. Like Westworld, it features androids that are so lifelike that they are mistaken for humans. While the androids are seemingly happy working for the humans at first, they soon retaliate in hopes of freedom. It’s a dark reflection on the dangers of creating machines with human-like emotions, but not allowing them to express them.
The Soul of the Robot
The Soul of the Robot features Jasperodus, a robot that, much like Dolores from Westworld, searches for the truth about what he is. In his world, he’s the only super-robot to have been granted consciousness. And, as a mix of man and machine, he must decide whether to share the wonders of a soul with his fellow robots or to betray them to save man. If you love Dolores and Maeve’s journey of self-discovery, you’ll enjoy Jasperodus’ story.
Never Let Me Go
The dystopian science fiction novel by a celebrated Japanese-British writer is the story of three friends: Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy. These friends are clones, who were raised to be organ donors and thus will never be able to live full lives. It’s a brutal commentary on the future of cloning, and relatable to Westworld’s androids, which exist merely to serve the wants and needs of humans.