Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week 14: The Future

Many have tried to predict the future and while I try not to linger on postulating the unknown, I believe that humankind is going to continue on a path of technological dependency. Seeing it now in the form of smart devices and social media, we thrive on the information and resources that are provided online. I believe that even beyond my lifetime, we may reach singularity, where technologies because self-aware; hailing to the cyberpunk's dream of technological assimilation. I believe that we are losing sight of practical, physical survival skills in favor of technology being our means of survival.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Week 13: Aquatic Uncle

There are two prominent symbols in the aquatic uncle, land and sea. Throughout the story, there is a conflict or debate whether it is better to live on land or in the water as they did before. Land is used a symbol for change, progress, evolution and uncertainty while the water and is a symbol for stability, and certainty. The uncle who is still a fish argues that living in water is how they were intended to live, the narrator sees the shift to terrain as an exciting new prospect.
I believe a large theme in The Aquatic Uncle has to do with progress. As stated prior, the land is seen as a symbol of evolution and uncertainty and the narrator experiences this firsthand. He is still attached to the water because of his uncle and even the way he was born wasn't fully terrestrial, he struggles to keep up with his fiancee who is completely terrestrial but despite not being "more evolved" he still welcomed change and being a part of a worldwide shift, knowing the unyielding characteristics of his uncle and other animals who never evolved made them special in their own right.
Were I to alter to the aquatic uncle into a another medium such as film, I would likely shift the characters from fish and reptiles to humans and change the prehistoric environment to a rural v. urban setting. The narrator being someone from a small town that moved to the city, Lll being his fiancee who was born in the city and his uncle being an older man still living in the same hometown.

Week 12: Diverse Positions

Bloodchild follows the life of Gan, a young boy living on an alien planet with the rest of human civilization on a reservation. The female aliens of this planet use human males to carry their eggs, one particular alien lives with Gan and chooses him to carry her young. After witnessing a gruesome childbirth, Gan has hesitations about doing this but proceeds anyway to keep his family safe.
A large theme in Bloodchild deals with gender role reversal, where the female aliens take the role of the patriarch and men must experience the pains of childbirth. Because of this raw description and insight of impregnation and childbirth, Octavia Butler's point of view as a woman shines through, as she is able to twist it into a man's perspective.

Week 11: Cyberpunk

Johnny Mnemonic is a sci-fi short story that utilizes technology as a form of body modification. Almost every character in the story is modified with some sort of technology or weaponry. The main character, Johnny is being used as a form of storage data, Molly has knives under her fingernails, and the yakuza assassin has a thumb with cutting wires that come out of it. Because of this reality, people have become more deadly and bodies are used as tools, whether that is storage or weaponry and they seemed to be empowered by this

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Week 10: Fiction of Ideas

Drowned Giant explores the ideas of how modern day society would react to a giant human corpse washed ashore. At first, the people of the town where the giant washed up are cautious of getting close to the giant corpse, even expressing disappointment in the size. It isn't until two fishermen begin to climb the giant that the rest of the crowd feels comfortable enough to approach the giant and proceed to climb and explore it as well. The giant's corpse begins to turn into an attraction for the local population, youths climb and play on the face while others explore. As days go by, the giant decomposes, the people begin to grow bored of it and its soon dismantled. It's months later that the giant's body parts are seen through out the town and even accused of being whale parts. I believe the author is criticizing our desensitized nature nowadays, the people were careless in how they treated the giant's body and exploited it to their advantage and such is the case today. We are willing to exploit anybody who isn't us, quite literally climbing on top of them to enjoy ourselves.

Week 9: Space Opera

Arthur B. Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God" begins with a disclaimer that a critic wrote if it had not been for slight contradictions of theology, people might've taken his writing as a serious claim. He responds to this critique with delight and preference to remain a "prophet with a small p".
The story begins with the lama ordering a computer in order to finish their work of recording all the names of God, a goal they've been trying to reach for centuries.
The story jumps to engineers contracted to care for the lamasery's computer until it is done with recording every name. Around the end of the job one of the engineer's greets the others and claims he's been told the reason why the monks are recording all of God's names. The monks believe that the world will end when they gather of all nine billion of God's names. Concerned that the monks will be upset with them if this isn't true they devise a way to leave before the machine is finished despite the disapproval of one of the engineers. As they are flying away, they estimate the machine must've finished its calculations and when they look to the sky the stars start to go dark.
Science and religion are commonly pitted against each other so this writing is particularly unique in that science is actually "benefiting" religion in completing its ordained purpose, though in the story its arguably not a favorable end. I think the author is proposing a "what if" science could be used as a tool to facilitate the supernatural. That technology is the next step towards godliness

Week 8: Contemporary Fantasy

Contemporary literature molds fantastic myths and concepts to modern settings, works such as the Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman serve as a strong example.
The story starts with the narrator visiting his childhood home after a funeral, he continues on and comes to another home that he recalls to be that of a girl named Lettie Hempstock who believed she had "an ocean" in her backyard, he wonders if the Hempstocks still inhabit the home and proceeds to enter. The oldest hempstock greets him and ushers him to the back, toward Lettie's "ocean". It is there he begins to recall his time as a childhood. He begins describing what is, for the most part, a mundane existence. This begins to shift when, his parents who are low on money, begin renting out his room to travelers. One particular traveler was an opal miner who soon after commits suicide in their minivan down the road and it is because of this that mystical things are set into motion that the narrator and the Hempstocks must combat.
Gaiman reinvents myth in a way that conforms in our modern society, while the Hempstock's power, Ursula Monkton and the other mystic beings originate from another msytical land or "the old country" they are addressing modern issues such as money, greed, and adultery. Ursula Monkton being a prime example. A being is awakened by the opal miner's suicide who killed himself because he gambled away his own money as well as his friend's. She begins making money show up in unseemly ways, reinforcing paranoia and distrust amongst her victims. When Lettie and the narrator try to bind her, the narrator ends up with a worm caught in his foot when he disobeys Lettie's instructions for a moment. That night he dislodges the worm and tosses it down the drain but a piece is left in his foot. The next day, a nanny named Ursula Monkton appears who is actually the being who lodged itself in his foot as a worm. Here we see a literal example of conforming to a contemporary era, the being comes back as a beautiful young woman, a form easy for people to accept as opposed to a demonic being. Ursula Monkton doesn't combat the narrator through supernatural means, she manipulates the narrator's family with her words and actions, turning his family against to the point that his father almost drowns him in a bathtub and later catches him having relations with Ursula.
The character of Ursula addresses contemporary issues despite being an ancient being, she attacks modern people with what is important to most of them which is money, she manipulates and undermines with words, portraying a seemingly innocent woman despite her constant abuse toward the narrator and these are scenarios that are still relevant today.