Thursday, April 30, 2015

Science Fiction Parody and Satire

This week I was pretty busy, but listened to the audio-book of Douglas Adam's, A Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy.  So, this book was delightfully weird. i remember some of the plot from the movie version, I'd watched years back. But I really remembered was a robot with Alan Rickman's voice. The story seems to definitely be a mix of sci fi and maybe bizarro humor. It's very witty, odd and enjoyable. I particularly likes how it treated the genre of sci fi, turning it upside down. The Vogon poetry is hilarious. The characters are enjoyable/memorable as well. Arthur Dent's normal-ness makes him relatable... and it creates an interesting contrast with the weirdness he encounters. I love Marvin the Paranoid Robot too (the one I remembered from the movie/Alan Rickman). Pessimistic but absolutely lovable and silly. The ship's infinite improbability drive is really cool as well- we all love to hold onto the impossible being made possible... very not so logical and rather fantastical for something rooted in science fiction. I got a kick out of this, and now I want to go back and re watch the movie.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Literary Speculation

Literary Speculation is NOT necessarily a genre

The Aquatic Uncle Assessment Exercise

Prominent symbols in the story? What are they how are they used?

The prominent symbols in the story I noted are, water, land, evolution, Attitudes toward chance, adaptation, and kinship/generations. Water is used to represent the past and an older time. The land it used to represent the present and maybe the future. There is a sort of reverse evolution within the story where the narrators fiance wants to evolve backwards and learn to be a water dwelling creature. This poses the thought that evolution is not always linear. The uncle has a traditional and anti change attitude, but is passionate enough about his believes to be able to convince a member of a younger generation.

What connections did I make with the story? What elements did I connect with? 

We all have that old traditional family member who refuses to adapt and adjust with the times. I related to trying to stay in touch with this kind of person. Although my Grandpa is not a fish, I can relate experiences. Whenever we have to introduce someone new to that member of the family, there is always some worry that they will be offended by the old ways, crudeness and generally not PC language of the older family member. Sometimes, like in the story, we are surprised that people are charmed, intrigued by someone who is so strong in their opinions and passions.  Lastly, I relate with the element of being hesitant towards change. We all can be. we love the comfort of the familiar.

What changes could be made to adapt this story into another medium? What medium would I use? What changes would I make? 

As the current medium is written, the visuals and culture of the characters are up to the imagination. Since there are land creatures, and sea creatures of limited description, I would love to see this story in an animated short film format. The medium for the animation I would like to show the duality of the story, perhaps a live action stop motion mix. The evolved land people or creatures would be more familiar to us, and the fish or sea creatures would have an older and more crafted traditional look.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Science Fiction from a Diverse Position

I read the short story,
I Live With You - by: Carol Emshwiller

"I Live With You," was pretty terrifying. One of the creepiest things I've read in a while. For me, the lack of resolution aided in this. It's simply and aptly tells how this female like being lives with a human, trying to improve the human's life... Pretty basic. It starts to complicate when this female- ish narrator started to basically stalk, watch and live within the life of the girl. This is super creepy because this lady/girl being stalked by the narrator is completely unaware that this narrator being is for certain living with her. While reading, the narrator ind of sounded ghost like, and that thought pretty much made sense. No one ever noticed her in any of her pervious dwellings either. As the story progressed, that couldn't make sense because the being ate, drank, interacted with come people.... but really, I was satisfied with thinking she was a ghost, and it bothered me more knowing that she probably wasn't. Ehhhh, the narrator using the lady's clothes, playing with her cat and eating her food all unnoticed? what? Stalk-y being would even take food off the lady's plate while she was eating. The lady kind of had had a'n idea she wasn't alone. This sounds like a nightmare haha... not to mention confusing and annoying (aside from terrifying.)  So, it was pretty dissatisfying to me that this situation was never resolved and the narrator wasn't identified.  The lady being stalked and followed sets traps and stuff, trying to get to a conclusion, but in the end, there really isn't any. So yes, pretty spooky resolution that made me look behind me while I was writing this. Although, dissatisfying, I think it's well written and darkly creative. It plays of of common fears and insecurities from multiple angles. It was an entertaining short story to read is the topic of Science Fiction from a Diverse Perspective. I imagine this could be thought of as sci fi, because the bing really could be anything... alien? But it overall doesn't seem like a typical sci fi piece... which is not bad. I give a thumbs up for creepy.

In class, we watched the movie:
Attack the Block (2012) - Joe Cornish
This movie is from the perspective of a group of inner city kids in an alien invasion.

In class, we read:
Bloodchild- Octavia E. Butler


-Humans are invasive species on a planet and are made to be hosts for the native creature species.
-Literary pivot point- role reversal (male/female)
-A matriarchy is established
-Octavia's voice as a black, female, sci-fi author is identified
-Slavery, symbiotic relationships, parasitic relationship can be identified and disputed as themes and categories of relationships in this
-Thinking about relationship with oppressors, power relationships. Can love exist where there is no equality?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cyber Punk and Steam Punk

This genre is driven by fear or anxiety around machine intelligence, and it as a threat to humanity.

Cyborg Manefesto

We fear that machine intelligence will eventually evolve and become conscious that it does not need humanity, and may turn on humans (like in terminator)

Another Motif of this genre is an industrial landscape. The future envisioned in a cyber punk landscape is a vast suburbanization... the future is FILTHY... and the mechanical and industrial world are out of control.

Along with this, industrial body modification is also common with this genre. This is seen as an extension of the human body.

This genre mostly happens in a post-humanist landscape. After Nationalism peaks at WW2 there is a decline in an obsession in this concept. 

Another theme is Corporation

And lastly, in this genre we so often see the "Cyberpunk Heroine". She usually embodies all the attributes of the traditional hero, wears leather and kicks ass.

The matrix encompasses a lot of these genre tropes.

I recently watched Rachel Talalay's 1995, Tank Girl. (based on Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett's Comic)

It was weird haha. But it pretty much encompassed all of the genre tropes. Theres the evil water corporation, a cyber punk landscape with vast and filthy suburbanization, and the industrial world is out of control. Of course we have the Cyberpunk Heroine as well, Rebecca... kicking ass, sex galore, leather wearing, witty... the works 

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick

The sub-genres we are reading this week deal in augmented, altered or alternative realities. Discuss the types of reality rendered

Describe the effects of these reality on the narrative and the implications for the presumed reader

Space Opera

Star Warssssss! I've always loved the series from when I was a kid. I remember telling my mom all about this really cool golden robot and his friend the trash can robot and their crazy adventures. Ha! Up until this year, I did not know that there was a genre called "Space Opera". I guess I always knew the genre existed but just never knew the correct term. It makes sense though. I always saw Space Opera as just Sci Fi. I  suppose there are defining elements that set it aside, making it more like a soap opera, having romantic, melodramatic adventures. (No opera music though- at least not yet!)

Space Opera seems to be a very hot genre of late. This past semester, it was the theme for the annual run illustration show. Also Dr. Who, Firefly, and Star Trek seem to be wildly popular with my generation. The media of television seems to be where this genera best grows, because in nature, the soap opera- like stories are episodical.

Although this week I took a chance to re-watch the original Star Wars trilogy. Having a new perspective on the genre offered an interesting/ enlightening perspective looking back.  I'm curious to try watching Firefly. I've heard good things, and I really like Buffy (Also Joss Whedon).  So much good content to explore this summer!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ocean at the End of the Lane, An Urban Fantasy

After reading The Ocean at The End of the Lane for the first time this summer,  I was extremely visually inspired, especially by Gaiman's description of the ravenous Hunger Birds. I made this drawing of my interpretation of them, and to my delight, Neil commented saying that it was very in line with his own vision... flattered!

I'm relatively new to the world of Neil Gaiman actually. I remember seeing the animated movie, Coraline, when it came out in 2009. I was hooked on something about that story, it really got to me.  It was definitely some sort of cautionary tale, but one where children were much wiser and open than the adults. Dark things happened, consequences too, but good seemed to triumph and children seemed to be valued in an honest light, as complex and observant people.

The next Gaiman book I happened to pick up was a couple years after, when a book store was closing and everything was on sale, Odd and the Frost Giants. I began to identify what I like best about Gaiman's voice. He writes children as complex and capable people, he incorporates history and mythology is a very appealing and applicable way, and he writes about darkness in a way that is more revealing rather than evil and and unidimensional.

I began to follow Neil Gaiman's internet presence and was particularly moved by his commencement speech about "Making Good Art," in which he gave advice on leading a creative life. I realized that Neil is very skilled at expressing the human condition, and does not let his craft be hindered by the definitions of media. When he feels like writing a children's picture book, he'll do so... graphic novel, young adult fiction, music, poetry,  screenwriting, fantasy, etc, etc... and I feel that is a terrific way to conduct yourself as a story teller!

This past summer, I was perusing the book section of my neighborhood Costco, and came across, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I really needed something new to read. I had seen the book being advertised on facebook, the cover was boring, but it seemed short enough, so hot damn, I just bought it and thought I'd give it a shot. Well I'm glad I did. It's one of my favorite books I've read in a while.

As I've noticed in Gaiman's stories, the story book starts off verrrry normally, vague almost. The nameless narrator is going to a funeral and is reminiscing about his childhood. I kept on trying to see what the narrator character's name was, checking if I missed it while reading, but upon finishing the book I knew that it was intentionally never given. I like this. I feel like a lot of the nameless narrator is meant to for the reader to be able to slip into, and a lot of it is a portion of Gaiman himself.

One of the most important parts about this book is the "snipping"and other subtle magic that the Hempstock Women are capable of.  I love how Gaiman writes women, and specifically these three, three generations of the "Goddess Archetype" (Maiden, Mother, Crone) all in beauty, confidence, and wisdom.

Much of this book reminded me of Coraline, where there was something very bad and scary, a monster in the closet if you will, and all adults and authority figures will not believe the child, because they are a child. This is terrifying, and we are left to rely on unlikely friends, uncover powers within ourselves, or make sacrifices to resolve or reverse evil.

The levels of "evil" badness or destruction are captivating in this story as well. The two main ones are Ursula Monkton, the worm, and the Hunger Birds, the varmints. Both are powerful, causing pain and destruction, but it's clear that they are very real forces in our universe that aren't inherently evil. Ursula Monkton just wants to give everyone everything they think they need that will make them happy. She just gives the world what it wants! It works out terribly, but that is her purpose. The Hunger Birds exist to enforce justice and to clean. Sounds good too right? Justice isn't without pain, and sometimes requires sacrifice. When the birds are denied their purpose they devour and destroy the fabric of the universe to clean up messes that have been made by people. This is all a lot to think about. Definitely a tale in being careful what you wish for, and that adults often do not know at all what is actually good for them.

This book is written from a seven year old's perspective, and I really don't think is intended for specifically adults or specifically children, it just is. Although there is disturbing imagery, a scene of intense child abuse, nudity and discussions of corporal punishment, it is definitely within a child's range of capability's to understand the plot, messages, and ongoings.

It was really a good experience to  read through this book again this week! It's a masterful piece, and I feel Gaiman really needed to get it out of his system! Since reading it, I also read American Gods this past summer, and was impressed in an entirely different way. Looking forward to more Gaiman media in the future!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Not Just for the Kids

The Novel of Spiritual Education

I can easily say that besides my family and schooling, most of my personal and cultural values growing probably came from Harry Potter.

I took the chance to re-read The Sorcerer's Stone this week, and was delighted to find that it still feels fresh, clever and enriching (as if I expected otherwise.)

Many important topics are covered in this series that have aided to it's success in our generation and beyond. I think this story is important, successful and relatable because it offers a rich variety of characters, and plots that both children and adults can relate too.

Harry Potter is a really good hero story for anyone going through transitions or challenges in their lives (which is basically everyone). I've know it to help kids transition through school, young adults transition after college, and older adults reconnect to magic, creativity and to something bigger.

That "something bigger" is the main thing really. Everyone wants to be a part of the Harry Potter universe, because its all inclusive, and also personal. The Harry Potter books and movies came out at the absolutely most ideal time a series like that could. The series grew parallel with the flourishing of the internet and social media. This allowed fans and readers to make and share, fan fiction, fan art, discuss theories, play role playing games, and just connect in general over exciting and inspiring content!

So Harry Potter definitely had (has) the "get you hooked in, or make you curious what the hype's about" factor, but what makes you stay? Why do generations of people read, reread, demand more content. Why did we wait in lines, shed tears and make a Potter theme park?

It's good content.

 Forgiveness is an over arching theme. Friends and foes must learn to compromise, and a hell of a lot of people I know hold grudges, and refuse to give second chances.

Characters are complex and even the protagonists have a relatable darkness within.

Love is the main theme of the book and is seen through a variety of lenses, taking a variety of forms. Harry's love for his mother forms a protection spell over him. Snape's love (although obsessive) for harry's mother aids to harry's protection and Voldemort's downfall as well. Many different relationships in this series flip love around and look at it from every angle.

Judgement/Categorization in the series always stuck out to me.  We always get excited to find out that house we would be sorted into, but honestly, categorizing a bunch of 11 year olds based on their most dominant qualities seems like a pretty lame idea. I can speak for many for sure, when I say I was not the same person I was at 11 as I was at 17.

Racism/Classism in the Wizarding world is as real as in our own. There are pureblood wizards, halfblood wizards, and muggle born wizards. Judgement is dealt within the community much like in the rise of eugenics, where some families are considered more fit or pure than others. Unjust treatment and parallels to unfair labor are also seen in the treatment of house elves.  For me as a kid absorbing the series, all of these allegories helped open my eyes to real world issues.

Isolation is never easy to deal with at any age. Harry Potter as the protagonist experiences isolation in every direction possible: It he muggle world with his cruel aunt and uncle, in the wizarding world where he is put on a confusing pedestal, and amongst his friends, who cant  understand what he is going through n his connection to Voldemort. These stories, help readers cope with their own isolation.

Destiny, a tricky word. The Harry Potter series shows us how flimsy destiny, prophecies, and all those things are. Although Harry is called "the chosen one", this is kind of a joke. It could have very easily been someone else with a horcrux lodged inside them. Our choices decide our so called destiny, it's not pre determined.