Saturday, November 28, 2015

We're All Bozos on This Bus

Well, this is quite different from our normal reading experience in class but I rather enjoyed it. We're All Bozos on This Bus was a mixture of parody and pure terror. The plot is essentially a man that hears an advert for a "fair of tomorrow" ( A fair showcasing technology) and the man (Clem) decides he'll go to the fair as a form of amusement. There are some interesting interactions between Clem and another character Barney that can only be described as comedic but beyond that Clem is interacting with these holograms and computers at this future fair. He has curious questions for both of them and is essentially trying to dishevel the technology at the fair by asking the computer peculiar questions. There's a whole bunch of satire based on Americana and a lot of irony throughout the piece but to me that's not what makes this particular audio experience stand out. For me, it was the experience itself. It felt fully developed as if it were really utilizing the medium of audio theatre. Not just some reading of a story but an immersive tale in which I was talking part as a viewer and that's what really held me as a listener. I'm starting a list of science fiction tapes./records to check out because of this particular installment of Firesign theatre because it felt. . . well it felt just like a theatre experience. It was so different and so immersive that I don't know if I've ever experience anything like it before and that was remarkable. Genre and humor aside that's why this piece stood out to me.


I wanted to talk about another book by Haruki Murakami (1Q84) because I feel like it is a good example of the synergism of multiple genres into something new. It's a 1980's period piece with science-fiction and with religious/supernatural undertones and it's also mystery novel. I think this is where I find my interest. In works that transcend genre and become something altogether new entirely. Essentially, the novel is about two different narrators finding each other. Oh and they're also stuck in an alternate timeline where certain events occurred that had never actually happened in their "real" timeline and they both become suspects in a murder case. I think for me, the real reason this novel stuck out with me is the seemingly simplistic world we find ourselves in. It really is just 1984 in Japan but there are a few inconsistencies and run ins with the supernatural. Also the intrigue and sexiness of having a hit woman as a protagonist captivated me. I think the brilliance of Murakami is in his insight into the seemingly dull and ordinary. I think the most prime example is the explanation of our two main characters love interest. The fact that they love each other across different timelines all because they touched hands once in elementary school is an interesting insight into the ability to attract and be attracted to other human beings through the most fickle of moments. Of course this is stretched thinner and thinner by the use of science-fiction as a backdrop for this love story. But I feel in the world of genre, things are always meant to be more exciting, more captivating, and writers tend to look over the micro-micro of human interaction. Murakami handles the mystique of genre fiction with the care of someone writing about deeper personal relationships and that's why his work stands out as strong to me.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dystopian Scifi

Whether it's steampunk, cyberpunk, cybergoth, etc. They're all forays into the genre of dystopia. All of these genres explore the decay of civilization and they usually explore a gap in power and in wealth between types of people. These types of novels are categorically marked in obvious social structures and a sense of oppression upon the lower ranking members of society. I've skimmed the suggested readings but I want to talk about a novel that takes a different spin on typical futurism. Dorohedoro is essentially a combination of cyberpunk and fantasy. I think the fusion of the genres is what makes it such an interesting read. Instead of your usual stratification based on who has the power via technology, it's who has the power based on who's a magic user and who isn't. (Really it all boils down to which sneech has a star on his belly). The wealth gap between the world of magic users and the normal citizens is so much that the world of normal people is just called "hole" and it is an actual shithole where magic users test out their powers and bully the world's citizens. It's a rather fascinating dichotomy between the two as hole is in fact one giant slum where as the world of magic users appears to be a bustling city. Instead of using science to explain advances in technology the world uses magic as means to explain grand advances (air travel, medical advancements, etc.) in science and to me that was rather interesting because it's almost like a lore was developed to explain a society very similar to our own but it doesn't seemed like a romanticized fantasy, it feels like a low fantasy set in the near future which I find to be an interesting blend of genres that I find incredibly attractive. Though it still carries immense amounts of archetypes and cliches it feels like an innovational work.
The plot for the novel is simplistic enough, there's a man who wants to transgress his place in the world of non-magic users and so he wants to become a man with power (i.e. a magic user) and he pushes until he can obtain this power. (The novel turns into a sort of science and eugenics themed work as this plot develops further but it still retains the feel of a work of fantasy and I think this is mostly attributed to the author's world-building skills).
All in all I would recommend this highly as it's an incredibly unique take on the theme of dystopian scifi and I feel it would be a worthwhile read for many students who are interested in the genre.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Contemporary Myths

Synergism of both old and new. Essentially, it's the retelling of an older story but given the twists of the contemporary world. All that is fantastical can still take place in our time period but by the setting and events occurring you can essentially renovate old myths to fit our lives. That's exactly what Neil Gaiman does with Anansi Boys. The book is actually designed after African myths about Anansi and Gaiman pushes it a step further as he writes about Anansi's sons. Gaimain takes an old myth and builds upon it using the contemporary setting as his backdrop. This synergism makes for an incredibly engaging read. It gives the reader something normalistic to hold onto but also something fantastical for them to get lost in. Anansi Boys has all the demons of the contemporary world (Big Business, Womanizing, etc.) combined with the mythical demons of the past. I think that this fusion is what makes Gaiman's work stand out so strongly from the rest. His technique is amazing but it's really this synergistic writing that captivates audiences.
Give me something I know, but shake it up a bit
is basically how I would describe Gaiman's work. It feels so real because the fantastical/mythological events occurring are happening to real people (Such as Fat Charlie).
All in all a great read and one of my favorites from the class.

Aunt Maria

Aunt Maria, in essence, is a tale about a mean relative that pretends to be far nice than she actually is. Oh, and there's a bit of magic and the paranormal to stir things up.
Aunt is the matriarch of her town and she runs it not with an iron fist, but with a doily covered palm and lots of magic to manipulate the men and children around her. She frees herself from their code of conduct by behaving in this way but she also imprisons herself within her own rules (Girls cant wear pants, no fish and chips for dinner, etc.) and so the book is about "Who's really the captive".
Essentially Aunt Maria is a character study and the book examines the family unit but mostly the book examines women in society and their roles in society. Aunt Maria seems to be all powerful in the novel, but the real problem with Maria is that she is being held back by a code of ethics that is outdated and she oppresses herself with them without even realizing it.
The whole point of the story is to examine women's roles in society and to examine what exactly is oppression. What does it mean to be oppressed by society? It makes an individual wonder, that's for sure.

Lilith's Brood

At first, I was incredibly confused on the nature of this week's title/ category for reading. I didn't know what you meant about non majority science fiction. I think for me, it's hard to establish that as another genre separate from science fiction altogether but I do see the importance of putting someone other than a white male(or woman I suppose) out amongst the stars. I think for me though, the implications of race run deep in this book; the inter marrying of species, oppression from one race to another etc. It's almost as if this book is about American slavery but instead of white Americans it's aliens, and instead of black Africans, it's human beings in general. I think the potency of this fiction is from drawing comparisons to our own history. Using genre's like scifi to underline an important part of history ( and to be frank, an important part of life as we know it today) is a very clever thing to do. I feel other works in the genre such as Attack the Block also touch on issues of race (gentrification in this case). I think these works are incredibly important and make scifi accessible to a wider range of individuals, but I don't know if I make the discernment that they are another genre altogether.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Left Hand of Darkness

Essentially, the entire novel is a report from our main character (Ai) talking about how he attempts to persuade a ruler of another planet (King Argaven of Gethen) to join the Ekumen (an intergalactic federation of some kind that is comprised of many planets in this universe). Long story short, it takes a long time to convince the King and after an unsuccessful attempt the book ends with Ai getting the Gethenians to join the Ekumen. Personally, I can't stand this kind of novel. It's a lot of notes on customs on a foreign planets, and has a lot to do with the politics of the world that's being created. The book seems to drone on and on and maybe it's because everything is so Alien to me or because I'm not a big sci-fi kinda guy, but I found it very hard to relate to and I was dredging through the text in order to finish it.
I think the most interesting thing for me was the supplementary legends and story's from the homeworld that were included in the text to foreshadow/complement other events in the book.
All in all, I can see why other people would be a fan. The novel is well written and it finds it's place in the science fiction genre. The book has some pretty interesting characters as well as thought out history and politics. However, it's just not my cup of tea so I don't think I'll be venturing back to Gethen any time soon.