Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 15: The Novel of Spiritual Education (Revised)

    Originally I had posted this entry when I had only read 3/4's of the book, now that I've finished it entirely, I can slightly add and revise it. I have had a copy of Erin Morgenstern's, The Night Circus, on my shelf for months now. I've been longing to read it, yet never had the time to spare. Finally, I was given that chance to sit and read it.
     Like most fantasy series I've read, despite the fantasy setting, the characters are typically relatable. Celia's and Marco's challenge along with the high expectations placed on them by their parental figures puts a heavy burden on their shoulders, which many young adults can relate to. No matter how much they wish to escape their destiny, they are still bound to it and try to play around it. The novel differs from other fantasy books because of how the main characters want to shake off a destiny that was built for them. At the end of the novel, rather than one having to kill the other, both become spirits and are able to haunt the circus peacefully together. They fight against the destiny that was chosen for them and create their own, neither win the game, but neither had to kill the one they love.
     Overall, I really enjoy the book thus far. I especially enjoyed reading the different perspectives. I've formed a slight attachment to Widget and Poppet, probably the two most intuitive twins I've encountered in literature. Morgenstern's picturesque style of writing is wonderful, though it does leave me craving for more.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Week 14: Science Fiction Parody and Satire

   For this week, I attempted to listen to the original radio series, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. For someone who has not really dedicated time to listening to podcasts or other radio shows, I had a hard time sitting still and listening to it. In fact, the only audio narrative I can remember having the patience for are the Diane tapes made for Twin Peaks. I'm sure more time and dedication to this kind of story media will help me better adjust to it eventually.
    Overall, what I do remember from the radio show, I found be very entertaining, from it's British humor to it's use of sound effects and voice acting. Though, I wish all the answers to life could be as simple as "42".

Week 13: Literary Speculation

Week 12: Diverse Position Science Fiction

   For this week, we read Bloodchild by Octavia Butler. This work challenged the majoritarian culture by tackling gender roles.
    In this short story, the main protagonist is a male who is chosen to carry the more dominant female’s children. He witnesses a male give birth, via a familiar approach to C-section. The use of eggs symbolize long life, eggs are more correlated with females because of our sexual reproduction system. Also, the human species has become dependent on this new species that is introduced in the story, and vice versa.

   In class, we also watched Attack on the Block, which implemented a familiar alien attack storyline but in a new setting, that is not typical in your usual sci-fi narrative: an urban slum. Along with featuring a more diverse cast rater than your typical white cast.

Week 11: Cyberpunk & Steam Punk

     I’m one of the shameful few on this planet who have never watched Blade Runner, but now I can exclude myself from that group since I have finally had the time to watch the entire film (which was awesome, by the way). It takes place in an alternate reality, not too far from our very own future. It handles a futuristic take of an urban area, but not your typical spick and span futuristic utopia with shining buildings. Rather, it portrays an urban slum. Also, Asian culture is implemented throughout this alternate reality, which really isn’t too different from our reality, considering Asian culture has spread even more so throughout the past few decades.

        In the short story, The Hinterlands, there is an obvious influence of Japanese culture, with names such as Hiro and Nagashima appearing. The world that this story is set in, is still a familiar world to us, except it is set in an alternate futuristic reality, still dealing with space efforts and the military.  There is even a direct mention to Soviet Russia.

Week 10: The Fiction of Ideas

    This week for class, we took the time to read Aye and Gomorrah to explore the fiction of ideas.
    This short story played with what I found familiar and introduced just enough concepts to make you feel out of place and transported to a whole new bizarre setting while at the same time introducing you to a new different culture.
    The story begins with the protagonist and his fellow spacers talking about their travel course through America, places us Americans are familiar with: Galveston, Houston, etc.  But just enough is mentioned to make the reader realize that this is not our modern world, the idea of Frelks and Spacers.

    Spacers play with the idea of gender and sexuality, they are castrated at a young age and are destined to work away from Earth. The Frelks are fascinated by the Spacers, especially because of this. The Frelk that the protagonist Spacer comes across, constantly asks the Spacer about his (possible) asexuality., something not too far or different from our contemporary world. And considering the Frelks offer to pay the Spacers for their time, does this lead to some form of prostitution, even though the Spacers lack the sexual responses.

Week 9: Space Opera

For this week, I read two of Arthur C. Clarke’s short stories, The Nine Billion Names of God and The Star. Both stories played with the idea of religion in a science fiction setting.
     It was interesting to see, even in these futuristic settings, how the characters and societies approached religion. In The Stars, the people who leaned towards science swatted God and religion altogether away, and the protagonist’s questions why God would choose to annihilate certain stars and planets. In The Nine Billion Names of God, the monks invest in technology to reach God by attempting to unravel his true name.  In both stories, the characters question God and his power and stance in their lives.

     "Well, they believe that when they have listed all His names-and they reckon that there are about nine billion of them-God's purpose will be achieved. The human race will have finished what it was created to do, and there won't be any point in carrying on. Indeed, the very idea is something like blasphemy."