All posts by J Mud

The Future is the Future, Not Now.

In Gibson’s “Burning Chrome”, I found the references to replacement body parts to be very interesting.  Although not quite advanced, in recent years there have been developments in many prosthetic  devices.  This includes, of course, the arm which was referred to during many parts of the story.  The arm is mentioned to be extremely high-tech, with connections to nerves of the user’s body, for direct control; arms, like this are being perfected everyday now, to improve the life of the one who needs it.

We are not yet in “cyberspace”.  The world is not yet ready to enter technology the way it is in Gibson’s work.  We may not be cyberpunk, but we might get there in a few years.  With the way technology develops now-a-days, we might reach that point in fifty years or so.  Even then, I don’t think the world is yet ready for such endeavors.  When is it too much?

Oh Boy! TV Tropes!

While all of these tropes were fascinating, this is what I found the most interesting on The Left Hand of Darkness page: “Info Dump”.  The tropes page writes “the expository chapters may feel like one”, and describes the trope as “particularly long or wordy”; I feel as if they add to the story and to note, not all of them are long.  The stories and notes in the chapters might be an overload of information, but they add to understand why some of the reactions and situations happen in the  novel itself.  The chapters say what it needs to say in Le Guin’s poetic style of writing, whether it’s a report from a character or a myth from Gethen lore.

For example, in chapter seven, it is lengthy field notes on Gethenian sexuality, but it gives insight about how the people of Gethen are, from another outside view other than Genly.  The way it is written explains why Genly reacts the way he does and has assumptions  about the people who live on that planet.  In the chapter, Ong Tot Oppong uses the term he, because “it is less defined, less specific, than the neuter or the feminine.” (Le Guin 101)  This is the start of human interaction with Gethen, which clearly affects future generations.

 

The Authorities are Always Watching You

“Bridgman, this is Major Webster, deputy commandant of Cocoa Beach Reservation.  On the instructions of the Anti-Viral Subcommittee of the UN General Assembly we are now building a continuous fence around the beach area.  On completion no further egress will be allowed, and anyone escaping will be immediately returned to the reservation.  Give yourself up now, Bridgman, before –” (350)

“So they sent him to Coventry.  And in Coventry they worked on him over.  It was just like they did to Winston Smith in NINETEEN EIGHTY-FOUR, which was a book none of them knew about…” (378)

A common trope in SF seems to be the the all knowing and controlling government, which is used in Ballard and Ellison’s work.  Ballard uses the Anti-Viral Subcommittee as this trope in order to show a way to control people, especially Bridgman, Travis, and Louise Woodward.  They are forced to stay at the beach, and are threatened if they do not comply.  In the end, the authorities are forced to capture the escaping inhabitants of the beach.  In Ellison’s story, the Harlequin is taken to have him brainwashed, in reference to 1984, by George Orwell.  In both stories, the government/higher ups are showing their power by always watching, always controlling their people.  In real life, people are always worried about the government watching their every move.  In SF, it is taken to the extremes, due to that they are literally watching and keeping control.

The Insiders

In the concepts of insiders, they are seen as the super-fans of the Science Fiction genre.  These super-fans are bound to talk about what they think specifically about the genre and the stories within it.  This is much like the case of Asimov’s letter to the editor; he nitpicked the stories in the pulps for months before he actually had a story published.  It seems for insiders of SF and pulps, the more you write, the more chance of actually getting a story of your own published.  The super-fans-of-days-gone-by became great writers of the genre in their own right.

This connects with the super-fans of today, where some actually become a part of being important in something they were once fans of.  I found a lot of examples of this with Doctor Who, where Steven Moffet and Russell T. Davies were fans of the show, then became writers for it.  David Tennant was also a fan, and he actually became the Doctor.

 

On Pulp Fiction Magazines

Considering the time period, pulp magazines are assumed to be one of the cheaper mediums to print.  They did not have many publishing options in the 1920s (when these particular readings of AMAZING STORIES were published); there were newsprint, bound books, and of course, magazines.  These pulp magazines were cheaper and easier to get a hold of rather than books for entertainment; considering format they were in, they had more words crammed on a page, meaning less paper used in publishing.  The pulp fiction magazines are cheap to publish and buy for all involved, while the editor wrote to make them likable and more likely to be bought.

This is comparable to e-books in today’s age; more people are buying e-books because they are cheaper to buy rather than bound books.  There are people who dislike the digital medium, preferring to hold a bounded book in their hands, which I’m sure was the case in the 1920s when these pulp magazines were published.

On Panic and Hoax in “The Star”

“But you must not imagine because I have spoken of people praying though the night and people going aboard ships and people fleeing toward mountainous country that the whole world was already in a terror because of the star.  As a matter of fact, use and wont still ruled the world, and save for the talk of idle moments and the splendor of the night, nine human beings out of ten were still busy at their common occupations. …The presses of the newspapers roared through the night , and many a priest of this church and that would not open his holy building to further what he considered a foolish panic.”  (45)

The quote I chose is from H.G. Well’s The Star, specifically this section because it shows how human beings react in panic situations.  In time of panic, people usually react in two different ways: classify it as a hoax or extreme fear.  In the case of The Star, most of the people continued their daily activities in the time of the impending “star” colliding with the Earth.  These people considered this fear of the others to be unnecessary,  and merely a hoax by others; some even consider the “star” to be quite beautiful, being an illuminating streak  in the night sky.  Others, though not as many, reacted in the ways of hysteria, where they tried to find safe areas of the planet.  Some even sought help in a higher power: God.  They seemed to believe it was the end of all things.  These situations are reminiscent of modern times in the cases of terror and war (such as multiple cases during the Cold War): some widespread panic, others go about their daily lives.

 

Wells, H.G. “The Star.” The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. Ed. Arthur B. Evans, Istvan              Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., Joan Gordon, Veronica Hollinger, Rob Latham, and Carol                              McGuirk. Middletown: Wesleyan UP, 2010. 40-49. Print.