Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Guide to Sci-Fi Satires

For this week, I listened to the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio recordings, which was incredibly fun to listen to. This popular british sci-fi comedy book series have been adapted into many different medias; for example radio shows, a live tv series, a typing PC game and film. This is a perfect example of a futuristic sci-fi adventure series that tends to deal with similar, everyday issues found on our present Earth. The Narrator has addressed the issues of events that have, is or will happen across the universe. Most of the issues mentioned in the story from time to time are referenced directly from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy guide book since it is the most famous, popular, and cheapest source of information for space traveling across the universe. Another interesting aspect that the characters encountered throughout the story are some of the items, tools, and technology used in this universe. The things encountered in the story are sometimes ironically convenient: like the translating Babel Fish, the helpful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the words “DON’T PANIC” at the front cover written in large friendly letters, and the Improbability Drive Generator that anything improbable could happen that has helped the main characters through the most intense situations. As for the other halve of the things found in the story, are ridiculously redundant. Many of the alien races found throughout the story tend to have a specific role to the world, for example, the Vogons. They are the literal representation of bureaucrats of the universe in the story.  They are described to be mean and cruel, but not necessarily evil race of aliens that would not take any action, even to safe their own grandmothers from a ravenous monster, unless it gets documented, filed, stamped, sent, stamped again, sent back, lost, found, lost again, and finally buried under dirt. They are also known to write the third worst poetry in the entire universe. One character that could also apply to issues in the present are the concepts behind Marvin the Paranoid Robot: an android built with a personality program that failed miserably (literary), though it has a brain the size of a planet it ended developing an extremely negative, depressive, pessimistic, and paranoid robot capable of destroying the mood with his complains. Overall, I really enjoyed listening to the audio show and the story has many interesting ideas and concepts that make the story more fun to read and listen.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Speculations before the origin of the universe

For this week, I read the short story All at One Point from the Cosmicomics collection by Italo Calvino. The story seems to focus on the origin of the universe before the big bang theory. The author focuses on a time before the big bang when everything was compressed all together into one tiny atom. Personally, I think that the author personifies the characters that, atomically together, form the universe. Throughout the story, the narrator seems to interact with other characters as if they were humans. Through their interaction it seems to me as if they were living in a neighborhood; the locals, a single house keeper and the new neighbors. The cleaning woman does not have anything to clean and spends her time gossiping, and the new neighbors that act like they own the place by doing what they like and are disliked by the locals. The author is emphasising on the fact that the universe is so small that it cannot even hold a single grain of dust.

I also noticed that in the story the author makes a slight reference to the relationship between different countries in our world. Throughout history, tension exists between many countries, similarly to the interactions between the characters. For example most of them tend to keep to themselves, and would only interact with each other after being well acquainted. Furthermore, they tend to argue with each other constantly over petty reasons. Also, how the newer group, referred to as “immigrants”, were being alienated and prejudiced against them for superficial reasons.

In my opinion, I found the content of this reading extremely unusual. Especially the names were weirdly spelled and found them unpronounceable. I found it hard to follow up with the different characters because of their complicated names.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Lit blog Questions: Bloodchild

A-1. I think that my first thoughts on the text that I just read to be awkwardly disturbing, but also interestingly unique.


A-3. If I were to adapt the story into a different media, I think I would well suited as a comic book.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Multicultural Sci-fi

For this week, I read the short story Bloodchild by Octavia E. Butler. This story is set on a planet of insectoid aliens where a colony of humans were allowed to settled in after escaping Earth. The story has an interestingly unique take on a mutual symbiotic relationship between the insect-like alien natives, called the Tlic, and humans. The symbiotic process between the two is that the Tlics will allow the humans to live peacefully with them under their protection, only if one of the humans become a host for incubating the Tlic’s eggs. Usually males are the ones to be selected. The Tlic aliens seem to be based on parasitic insects; they lay their eggs inside another bug or insect, and then the larva, after hatching, will start eating the insides of their host which lead to the host's death. This reminded me of another fictional alien creatures from the sci-fi horror movie, Aliens.

A noticeable difference between the examples that I just mentioned and the Tlics, is that the latter seems to have more value at keeping their host alive. When the eggs of a host human are about to hatch, the Tlics appear to handle the birthing of the offspring before they get a chance to start devouring their host. The Tlics also value their relationship with the humans by assigning a female Tlic to watch over each human family and connect with them. They decide which human get to host their eggs.

Usually women are the ones that are bearing children, however in this reading the author breaks the majoritarian culture by selecting men to get impregnated with parasitic eggs. I think the reason why male humans are chosen is because the Tlics that picks the human to be the host are female. This reminds me of how sea horses reproduce; the females lay their eggs inside of the males’ pouch which they then incubate and give birth. Another reason might be to demonstrate how a man would experience the same difficult and painful process of pregnancy and labor that a woman experiences when creating a new life.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Anubi's Time Portals

For this week, I read the book The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. I found the story’s concept very interesting; it combined Egyptian mythology and time travel to create an adventure that could decide the future of the world. Most of the sci-fi stories that have time traveling mainly uses time machines, wormholes, or any other thing where the source come from science and space. However, in this book the author used the concept of myths and magic to create time portals. These were originally for summoning the Egyptian gods from the past when they were in their prime but failed. Even though the story mainly has fictional situations and events based on time traveling and Egyptian myth, it also seemed to have some connection with real historical events to give a more accurate feeling to the setting. The story has many interesting characters, each with their own goal. Though the main protagonist, Brendan Doyle, happened to join the expedition to the past in order to meet and study an enigmatic poet he has been interested in researching. However, he ended up getting on all sorts of problems. Out of the various antagonist, only three of the main ones stood out to me: Horrabin the evil clown, Dog-Face Joe, and Doctor Romanelli. Horrabin was a villainous clown on stilts that commanded over beggars and conducted experiments on people. When the experiments failed, the people would turn into monsters and be locked in the clown’s basement. I think that this enemy has inspired many of the evil clowns we know today. Another villain is Dog-Face Joe, the body swapping pseudo-werewolf, who also happened to be one of the magicians that participated in the activation of Anubis Gate to summon the gods. However, after failing he got cursed and was transformed into a furry canid human with the powers to swap bodies; he even managed to place Doyle’s soul in the body of the enigmatic poet he had been researching on, William Ashbless. Additionally, Dog-Face Joe’s character served as a personification of the Egyptian god Anubis, which fit the story. Finally the main antagonist, Doctor Romanelli was a powerful magician who had been trying to smite the English invaders from Egypt. At the beginning of the story, Doctor Romanelli had a doll with a very similar name to the original, acting as his double. The real one was not involved until later on in the story. It really interested me in the story when Doyle and Romanelli ended up in the Egyptian underworld. It was ironic how the antagonist wanted to call the Gods to smite the invaders, but ended up getting devoured by the demonic chaos serpent, Apophis, while the protagonist got to hitch a ride on Ra’s sunboat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Space Traps, and Gomorrah...

For last week’s reading, I read the short story of Aye, and Gomorrah… by Samuel R. Delany. In the narrative, the author portrayed the idea of a world where astronauts, commonly referred throughout the story as Spacers, were prepared by being neutered before puberty as a precaution to the effects of radiation and other hazardous threats found in outer space. However, today with new technological advancements, male astronauts can enter the space without being neutered. Another effect of being neutered was that it prevented the astronauts from going through puberty. As a result, the astronauts turned into androgynous adults, making their sex difficult to identify. (Would they be allowed into the Hideyoshi gender baths?). In this world, there was also a subculture of people referred as “Frelks”, however I wasn’t able to confirm whether they were just men or women. The “Frelks” were the people that were aroused by the Spacer’s androgynous looks and naive unattraction to anyone. The story mainly depicts the daily life of the Spacers; talking about their troubles and share their desire to feel sexual attraction. The Spacers also traveled to places and took advantage of the Frelks’ attraction towards them through prostitution by sexually teasing them. This raises a moral issue today since prostitution is illegal in majority of the states. In addition, today, prostitution is seen as a forced practice mainly through human trafficking or a result of poverty.

Personally, I think that because it was a short story, it lacked explanations in some part of the story, which made it more complicated to understand. Also, I found the grammar structure to be a bit complex. When I first started reading the dialogue, I was under the impression that the Spacers were children. This essentially fits the plot since they are basically adults with childlike mindsets because they were never able to go through puberty.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Space Short Operas

For this subject, I decided to read the short stories by Arthur C. Clarke. In both The Star and The Nine Billion Names of God, the author seems to question the concept of a divine creator, as well as different ideas on the concept. In The Star, the story is told from the perspective of a crew member from a space expedition, elaborating on the thoughts of his wavering faith after witnessing the expansive universe. The story constantly keeps questioning if there is a creator or not, especially when they find the alien time capsule from a desolated planet, that the surface was destroyed by the near dying star. As for The Nine Billion Names of God, the story mainly focus on the concept that there is a secret within the many names for God. A monastery is using a machine borrowed from the protagonist to conduct this research. The author seems interested on the concept of a future where one wonders on the idea of a creator or higher power. I have a pretty open mind when it comes to different beliefs. For example, I was raised to believe in an All Powerful Creator as a Christian, however when I first started learning and understanding about the evolution theories and the expansive universe at school, it never wavered my beliefs. Both stories were short and had some unique ideas, however I found it a little hard to understand some of the narration and dialogues in both of them. When I started reading The Star, I was a little confused, however the more I read through the short story, the more I understood. As for The Nine Billion Names of God, I was not able to fully understand most of the dialogue because of their complex science vocabulary, which is common in Sci-Fi stories.