U. R. Bandit

I found page 93 (of the deluxe edtion of We3) to be quite thematically relevant; specifically the bottom left frame. In this frame, we see Dr. Roseanne Berry, in tears, identifying the dog, “1”, by his actual name. Berry worked closely with the weapon-animals and saw “Project AWE” it for the in-humane experiment it was.

This frame is so important because it pits the sympathetic (Berry) against the cruel (government). This dog was presumably a loving, domesticated house-pet, loved and cared for by a family. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of the novel, we are told that Bandit is “friendly and approachable.” Blind to any feelings/emotions this dog may have; and, indeed, any emotional connection this dog’s owners have to it, the government stole him, encased him in machinery, and set him to do their violent biddings. In an effort to further de-naturalize him, the government obliterated his name and gave him a cold, impersonal, numerical designation. The loved, loving animal becomes a mechanical weapon designed to be perfectly obedient and perfectly willing to put himself in harm’s way; even if it means certain death.

This novel explores the binaries of natural vs. machine or emotional vs. mechanical. It is a surprisingly thought-provoking book because it is more subtle of an exploration than, say, human vs. machine (i.e. Blade Runner). It challenges the reader to recognize animals as having many characteristics in common with humans. They are capable of experiencing a vast array of emotions.

In this bottom left frame of page 93, Roseanne Berry is realizing just this. She instantly feels horror and remorse for the actions of the government, and for her own involvement in Project AWE. She re-asserts the dog’s naturalness (despising his forced mechanical state and the government who put him in it) and former identity when she says: “The name on your collar was ‘Bandit.’ U. R. Bandit.”

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