Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week 14- Not Necessarily the Future.

When prompted to write about how I envision the future, both in my lifetime and beyond, I was first sucked in to thinking about all of the negatives that exist in the word today. Disease, war, famine, natural disasters, the melting polar ice caps, global warming, water wars, food shortages, food excess, depression, anxiety, bigotry, hatred, violence, murder- you get the point this could go on forever.

HOWEVER. I am also happy at the thought that at this very moment, somewhere in the world someone is coming up with a solution to these things. I don't mean to say that all these things can be solved. Certainly there will always be violence and murder as well as love and kindness and newborn puppies as that is the human experience. But what I mean to say is that more that the innumerable bad things that plague the universe I am excited to see how people solve these problems. Just yesterday there was an article floating around the vastness of the internet that stated that a major car company had figured out how to fuel a car using carbonated water. If thats true, THATS AWESOME.

When I was 11 I saw the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. In it Zenon lives on a space station with artificial gravity, has a communicator where she can see and be seen by whoever she is talking to and is well traveled throughout the galaxy. At this time cell phones were just about to hit the Razr- mania stage where a motorola razr was the coolest phone to have next to a sidekick (it flipped open and had a keyboard and was the coolest shit on the BLOCK).

But anyways, now in 2015 I can take out my apple 6 phone and video chat my sisters in Cleveland while I'm on the beach ordering jimmy johns using free wifi and applying for jobs. THATS AMAZING. In the short amount of years since cell phones became a part of the mainstream they have advanced so much. Computers are now about the same size and weight at a small notebook when they used to take up entire rooms.

Also we have those coke machines now where you can choose your flavor (cherry coke, always)- these are truly amazing times whether we choose to see them as such or not. And the advancements in soda dispensaries aside, I believe that human beings want what is best for the planet and the people on it. I believe we are capable of creating solutions to the issues that plague us and that new ingenuity can lead to a better quality of living. One that I am excited to see.

Also, if there are not flying cars and lightsabers  by the time I die I feel I will have wasted my time on Earth.

Week 12- Diverse Position Science Fiction

Ok, I have to start this post by saying that I really enjoyed Attack the Block, about a poor apartment block in London and how they deal with a sudden alien invasion. I think what I liked most was its' very British sense of humor and that while it dealt with alien attacks it wasn't overly flashy with special effects which to me made it all the scarier. The aliens were vague looking but definitely terrifying.

I liked that this movie not only took the alien invasion out of a prime location like the white house (or Buckingham Palace or the House of Lords etc in England) and put it in a low income neighborhood in inner city London. And that the heroes were really more anti-heroes. These were young, rough, kids who mugged people, stole, and did drugs and they ended up saving the whole planet, which to me is an interesting and different story to tell.
Another thing I found oddly enjoyable was not that characters died but that the film allowed for deaths to happen and not as plot lines but simply because THATS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IN AN ALIEN INVASION. People would probably die and not everyone gets away (although I still got a little sad when the dog died :/ 

Week Ten- The Fiction of Ideas

This week I explored Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, I found this story to be incredibly interesting because like most fiction its commentary is about the nature of humanity and in this case the ideas of masculine, feminine, androgyny, peace and war. When a Terran man named Genly is sent to a planet called "Winter" (spoiler its always cold there) he encounters a race of people who are primarily androgynous and "ambisexual" only taking on sexual characteristics of either gender once a month. Coincidentally, or more likely not, Winter has never experienced war and is being asked to join an interplanetary alliance by Genly.

I think this book is interesting because it really makes the case that ideas about gender identity, fluidity, sexuality, masculinity, femininity, reproduction and their affects on society are ANYTHING but new. While I believe they are coming more and more to the forefront of the world's discussion table people have had thoughts and opinions that have changed throughout time as long as there have been people.

This book also touches on the ideas of government and society's role in the policing of people's bodies and sexuality, when sterilization is intended to be used as a form of punishment after committing an offense. While it is illegal these days to force someone to be sterilized it was not long ago at all that it was common practice along with lobotomy and chemical castration.

I think this book does a good job on commenting on these things as well as telling an interesting story set in a science fiction world of alien races and far away galaxies.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Week Nine: Space Opera

The thing I like most about this week was the fact that while they are all innovative the term "space opera" literally makes me realize that these are operas/westerns dropped into space. I grew up on films like star wars (pre JarJar Binks), the fifth element,  flash gordon and more recently Guardians of the Galaxy. These films, comics, and novels while set in galaxies far far away, are really about the human experience, emotions, and relationships.
Watching The Forbidden Planet was very enjoyable to me, the whole aesthetic of the film is one that I enjoy as well as the "long arm of the law" impeding on an outlying homestead that lies outside the town (or outside the galaxy in this case). Ann Francis makes  a wonderful naive young woman who encounters a group of foreign men, foreign ideas and grew up completely outside of human contact, human morality, and human customs. 

The Time period is very much present in this film in a very wonderful way- the idea of what could be possible in the future with advancements in technology are still ones we hope for today- and ones emerging at this time.

Week Seven: The Novel of Spiritual Education

         For this week I've read both The Night Circus and am in the process of reading The Golden Compass. I have to say that The Night Circus is possibly one of my favorite books I've ever read. I feel like the this book combines many ideas and thoughts without giving a final commentary and leaving it to the readers choice. In this book magic is something that can be learned by anyone (although some are naturals or better apt to pick it up) with two opposing schools of thought: one relies on the power within the individual magic is generated and controlled through physical means. Celia has her hand crushed and is made to heal it. She is able to make objects move with a simple thought and is a master of making her actual magic seem like illusions. Marco works with symbols, glyphs, spells and charms- while both are capable of working both ways their primary instruction differs.

The idea of a spiritual journey comes in with the idea of soul mates. Celia and Marco, for much of the book, do not know that they are each other's opponent in the grand competition- but end up falling in love with one another's magic and their attractions built into the circus.

In The Golden Compass the spiritual journey of the characters is definitely more on the surface. With the ideas of religion, technology, magic and the human soul in a world where every human's soul exists outside their body in the form of an animal called a daemon. Children's daemons are fluid and can change forms at will, and upon maturity the daemon settles into an animal form that reflects it's humans traits, personality, and soul. For example many servants' daemons take the forms of dogs, while Lord Azrial's daemon is a beautiful snow leopard.

Unsurprisingly my favorite characters within the book was was Serafina Pekkala a witch. Witch's daemons exist in bird form and unlike regular people they can separate indefinitely from their humans (witches).  I like the idea of traveling separately from ones soul.

The idea of a human soul taking a physical form indicative of a person's inner being that you can talk and interact with is intriguing and comforting.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Aquatic Uncle

1. Are there any prominent symbols in the story? If so, what are they and how are they used?

Transformation and evolution/metamorphosis are the biggest symbols in the story that I can think of. Also the idea of the earth as an every changing/evolving thing, and the idea of choosing how you move through those changes. Qfwfq talkes about crocodiles choosing to stay where they were in history much like his Great-Uncle, and Lll chooses to go backward in her evolution and become a fish again while Qfwfq and the rest of his family choose to move forward to live on land. The idea of the unknown as well as the vastness of undiscovered places like the sea and land were also discussed.

2. What connections did you make with the story you read? Discuss the elements of thew work with which you were able to connect.

 I think the biggest connection I made was with the idea of choosing how you move forward and the fact that there are options and choices to how you do so. While I probably am not going to sprout a tail and gills, all people can choose to either evolve as they get older or choose to remain as they are. I also connected with the idea that sometimes the next new big thing is not always better than what was, and sometimes its ok to look to the past or to the older generation for ideas about what could work. Choosing how you evolve and how you want to move forward with your life.

3. What changes would you  make to adapt this story into another medium? What medium would you use? What changes would you make?

If I were to make this story into a visual representation I think I would choose an animated story or a childrens book. Because I would gear it towards children I think the great uncle would have to be changed to a brother or a friend because having someones fiance run off with their great uncle might be a little harder to understand. I would want to make it animated or drawn because I think there would be a lot of opportunities to visually represent the differences between land and sea animals and the different ways that creatures choose to evolve. I would also maybe make it clearer what kind of animals they all are and also the different ways that animals were adaptable at that time in history.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 6- The Hero's Journey- Equal Rites

Terry Pratchet's Equal Rites was my first introduction to both his writing and to Discworld. I have to say I was pretty reluctant to read it at first, although honestly after reading it I can't figure out why. I found it to be inventive, interesting, and funny. As far as following the hero's journey, Eskarina is an interesting protagonist. The rules and differences surrounding the magic of witches vs. the magic of wizards was interesting in that it didn't matter the sex of the individual (although all wizards are men and all witches are women) but the way the person accessed their powers and also the way they went about learning magic. Also- Granny Weatherwax is awesome and I wish she was my grandma.

The hero's journey trope is very present in Equal Rites, Esk's call to adventure comes when her powers become unmanageable and Granny Weatherwax takes her to the Unseen University.
Her supernatural aide is clearly Granny Weatherwax as the only way she is allowed at the university is as a servant. This could be seen as her initial breakthrough and crossing the first threshold into the world of wizards.
Her attempt to help Simon and ending up in the other dimension could be seen as the belly of the beast. And her return to the University and continuation to discover a new kind of magic is her victorious return. Pratchett's Discworld gave me an entirely new universe to explore and allowed for me to dive right in without having to have read his many other books in this universe.