All posts by Ender's Argument

A lack of Color

The passage that sticks out to me is the second sentence of the story “Out in the malls and plazas, moths were batting themselves to death against the neon, but in Bobby’s loft the only light came from a monitor screen and the green and red leds on the face of the matrix simulator” (Gibson, 548). What frustrates me about Cyber Punk stories is the over emphasis of darkness and light being expressed only in shades of neon. There is no contrasting natural light which presents life with computers as completely artificial separate from nature. Why is there a stereotype that hackers only hack late at night in a pitch dark apartment with only the light from the screen illuminating a face; more like a batted moth? Why is technology always contrasting with nature, wouldn’t be more interesting to see some natural light through technology? Maybe the reason why the characters in Gibson’s stories always need new eyes is because they ruined their old ones by staring at a screen in the dark. Gibson fails to emphasize a wide enough spectrum of color, simply emphasizing neon, leds, and chrome isn’t enough of a color palate. What’s unrealistic about the image that Gibson paints in his short story “The Burning Chrome” isn’t the ICE, the towers, and the holograms, it’s the complete lack of night and day.

Republic,Kingdom, and Gender Roles

The TvTrope that most interested me was the “Shown Their Work” trope. Writers should write about what they have learned in their novels by incorporating their ideas, philosophies, and criticisms within characters, governments, and plot. I agree that there is a point where the writer may take away from the plot by trying to teach the reader something the author has learned through her/his research. Ursula K. Le Guin is interested in Taoism which enters her novel “The Left Hand of Darkness” in a variety of ways. In the case of her novel I found that she didn’t spend enough time expressing her ideas on Taoism enough and how they relate and contradict to Duality.

For instance you have a culture of Gethenian’s who are androgynous, they find harmony as a whole. The criticism is that as humans we are naturally separated and thus find peace when we are together, Le Guin speaks of extremes in separation in the introduction of The Left Hand of Darkness,“almost anything carried to its logical extreme becomes depressing, if not carcinogenic. Le Guin argues that men and women, when non-androgynous, can be unhealthy and cancerous. We see this also in the governments that rule winter; both have their problems when separate. Could they be fixed when combined? Is Le Guinn attaching gender roles, and sexuality to various forms of government? I wanted more from Le Guin in terms of her ideas. I feel as though Le Guin was trying to make a larger argument on government and Taoism but didn’t want to ruin the plot by focusing too long on drawing out these ideas. I feel as though it hurt the novel. My favorite books seem to have plot lines and characters that work harmoniously with the drawing out of an idea, to see something in a similar way as the author.

The clock indicates the moment…but what does eternity indicate?

Ballard and Ellison both focus on time. In Ellison’s story Everett C. Marm practices active civil disobedience in an effort to protest the Ticktockman, a man who utilized time to regulate the populace and increase efficiency for the war effort. Everett C. Marm is a man who has been late all his life but argues that he has not been late to living his life and enjoying himself. His message is clear, “Why let them order you about? Why let them tell you to hurry and scurry like ants or maggots? Take your time! Saunter a while! Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy the breeze, let life carry you at your own pace! Don’t be the slaves of time; it’s a helluva way to die, slowly, by degrees… down with the Ticktockman” (Ellison, 376)!

On the other hand Ballard introduces us to Bridgeman who is trapped in the past due to an unlucky circumstance surrounding his Mars architectural career. Similar to Everett, Bridgeman has created a counter schedule, his own pace, where he tries to piece his life back together after the incident. He is trying to find peace with himself, he finds comfort in the ruins of Cape Kennedy and needs time, “Bridgeman had easily adapted himself to his self-isolation, soon evolved a system of daily routines that gave him the maximum of time to spend on his own private reveries” (Ballard, 341). The government represented by Major Webster rushes Bridgeman and informs him that he is running out of time. The horrifying that arises when reading these stories is whether or not we feel as though we have taken enough time out of our day to appreciate our surroundings, learn about ourselves, and contemplate life? Buddhism, Jack Kerouac, or Walt Whitman might point you in the right direction.

Casting Pearls before Swine

There appears to be a great cover up, a need for the individual to pretend to be ignorant in order to sleep at night, men and women using reason to unbind themselves from their obvious immoral decisions. They reason that they are not radical in the way they do business; there is always another group which is less open minded. We are here on the moral spectrum; over there is the World Conservationist Association, Taunton, and individuals who wish to retaliate against their attacker (Thunder and Roses). Yet there is no middle-ground politics, Fowler Schocken and its hatred for government restrictions, tariffs, and subsidies represent a bloodthirsty Ayn Rand’ian interpretation of doing business. Mitchell Courtenay refuses to look past the oppressive advertisement propaganda that he feels he is free from, only to realize that he fell for the same advertisement strategies that he feels he has mastered. Even the men and women hired by Fowler Schocken willingly forget their past hardships in attempt through reason to justify their actions, “I knew now that they had been too snobbish to give me the straight facts on consumers’ lives and thoughts. Or they hadn’t cared to admit even to themselves that they had been like” (Pohl, 104).

It’s all a great cover up, make-up covering the harsh realities of man’s actions, “The mushroom went up a half-mile away. The studio caved in. I came to the next day. I didn’t know I was burned, then. It didn’t show. My left side. It doesn’t mater, Pete. It doesn’t hurt at all, now (Thunder and Roses). Follow the money; it will lead you to the cemetery where morality was buried long ago by robber barons, mega-corporations, and hypocritical Ayn Rand republicans. Secrecy, subcultures, the elite, the club, introduces ways in which one community in power attempts to stay in power, let’s keep the public misinformed. Science fiction has a claim that it is scientific. There is an advertisement hidden within the lines, the question is not what they want me to think about Science Fiction? The question is why do they want me to think this way about Science Fiction?

Fiction, Grounded with a Scientific Attitude

The medium of telling science fiction stories through the Pulp Magazine presents itself to its readership as a topic and interest that is not foreign but perfectly normal and intellectual. Magazines can be found in a multitude of places; by placing a science fiction magazine on a rack of other magazines, a passerby may get the impression that maybe these science fiction stories are more than just fantasy but grounded by authors with a scientific attitude. During the pretext of Jules Verne’s short story “Off on a Comet” the introduction mentions that Jules Verne focuses on scientific concepts that are known to exist. An allegory that I noticed during the introduction stated that “moreover several people are carried off the by the comet and returned uninjured,” which is the purpose of presenting science fiction stories in a magazine. It reassures the reader that they will be taken to a far off place, but will return. The Editor also states that if the reader is confused by any scientific matter mentioned in the story they can write to the magazine and their questions will be answered scientifically. Lastly the advertisements at the end of the magazine were for an Electrical School and homes available in Northwest Florida. The magazine believes that its readership will be well educated and able to afford a gorgeous home on the water. The subtle hints from the editor, the advertisements, and the pretexts declare to the reader that they are an intellectual and the science fiction presented within its pages is not fantasy but science.

An Optimistic Tomorrow

The passage that intrigued my attention the most in H.G Wells Story “The Star” is found on page 41 of the Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction towards the middle of the page. The quote is as followed,

“The leader writers enlarged upon the topic; so that in most of the capitals of the world, on January 3rd, there was an expectation, however vague, of some imminent phenomenon in the sky; and as the night followed the sunset around the globe, thousands of men turned their eyes skyward to see- the old familiar stars just as they has always been” (Wells, 41).

What draws me to this passage is the vagueness of the language which to me symbolizes man’s ignorance of their own world and its place in the universe. Man’s constant push for scientific progress causes mankind too constantly look toward the stars and ask questions, questions that when answered engender fear and speculation. H.G Wells suggests through his story “The Star” that even though mankind may face unseen threats in the form of colliding planets, erupting volcanoes, and 50ft waves of crushing water; in the end the dust will settle and men will look up at the same old familiar stars and exclaim, “I am still here.”