Saturday, November 26, 2016

Week 14: Satire and Sci-Fi

Mike Judge

 “About Time"
Richard Curtis

For this week, I watched two movies Idiocracy and About Time, both of them a science fiction film that give out a complete different feeling to many other science fictional movies. Idiocracy is simply a comedy film about two people going through hibernation experiment and ending up waking up 500 years later where the society had become a place only for entertainment with no responsibilities and intellectualism. This comedy film could be entertaining, but I wasn’t really entertained by it since in this world there are a lot of people who prefer entertainment rather than thinking to do the right thing. This also brings back to our presidential election in the USA this November. Many people were drawn by the entertainment during the presidential debates and the jokes in social media that even those who knew who would make the least worse choices didn’t vote because they believed even if they didn’t vote things are going to go well somehow. And here we are now sitting here waiting for 2017 with fear. Idiocracy simply is a joke, but now that I watched it after the election it doesn’t sound like a joke. Climate change is being denied and international relations, sexism, racism, and homophobia are the problem ’that’ man is thinking of bringing back to cause more chaos to this world. 

About Time, on the other hand, is about Tim, a young man who holds a special ability to time travel and tries to change his past to improve his future. The story is so subtle and because it concentrates on only his life and some of those around him that this story looks very real. It is mentioned in the movie that he could only time travel to a time he has experienced and know the exact time, date and location of the time period he wants to return. As the story goes and Tim grope his happiness, he stops time traveling and go through his daily life. At the beginning he wished his love life to go smoothly as well as to help his friends with his ability to time travel and once everything was set, he had allowed himself to live a complete normal life like all other people. I really enjoyed the subtlety of this movie and the fact that it looked very real. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Week 13: Literary Speculation

“Oryx and Crake”
Margaret Atwood

This week I read Oryx and Crake, a novel that isn’t quite science fiction since it goes beyond realism presented in the novel itself. Snowman, a post-apocalyptic character who once was Jimmy, lives near a group of human-like creatures whom he calls Crakers. Throughout the story, it tells you the story of Jimmy’s past and how he had ended up with the Crakers as well as with a different name. Jimmy’s past was quite interesting as he met Glenn whom he refers as Crake. They both were smart, but somewhat messed up since they enjoyed watching underground videos including child pornography. 

As I read this book, I couldn’t take a liking to either Jimmy or Crake due to their weird interests and their personalities. At some point of the story Crake begins to create the Crakers, peaceful, herbivorous humanoids who only have sexual intercourse during limited breeding seasons and to get some helpers in working on his creation, he hires Jimmy and Oryx, a girl who appeared in the pornography they watched before. Crakers weren’t the only things Crake was working on, but also BlyssPluss, a super-pill that promises health and happiness, which ended up wiping out the human race. To this point of the book I’ve believed that maybe Crake wasn’t that bad and felt some sympathy for having such cruel thing happen to the world, but this was something Crake had planned all along. 

The characters in this story played with me a lot since at some point I simply disliked the character’s personalities and at some point I felt sympathy, but that all went to waste by the end. I also have mixed feelings toward Jimmy since he started off as a ‘brat’, but later knew what Crake had done was simply terrible. He had already had the mind of killing Crake, but confirmed it once Crake had slit Oryx’s throat (since he was in love with her). I personally think that Jimmy is a better person than Crake since although he could have abandoned Crake’s creations, he still became the Crakers’ teacher and took care of them. Although he may be better than Crake, I still can’t take a liking of this character for some reason. 

This book is written so smoothly from a modern time period to the result and there isn’t a sudden jump to the future that it is hard to decide whether this book falls under the genre of science fiction or not. The author does describe this novel as ’speculative fiction’ and ‘adventure romance’ rather than science fiction and I do get the reason why she describes it such way. It was very interesting to read this novel since it includes the science aspect of reality in creating a new type of humanoids. The reality aspect of the story still continues since by the very end Snowman finds other true humans whom he wonders if he should befriend them or not. This explains that there still are some true humans out there alive in this post apocalyptic time period. 

Week 12: Diverse Position Science Fiction

Octavia Butler

Although the book Kindred is a science fiction novel about time travel, it is so realistic that it simply seemed like it was a non-fictional novel. I have read many books on time traveling and slavery, but this book includes both topics. Dana, the protagonist, is a time traveler who goes back to 1815, the time period when slavery was still a huge issue. She only returns when Rufus, a boy she rescued drowning during her first time travel back into the past, gets into accidents or scrapes. Having her to rescue Rufus several times, she was soon taken to his home where she was treated racially because she was a black woman while Rufus’ family was white. 

As her life was in danger, she was able to time travel back to her own time period in 1972, but that wasn’t for long. She returned to the past, this time along with her husband, Kevin, to of where Rufus was and it had already been years since she last visited. Being ‘invited’ into Rufus’ house, they introduced themselves by saying that Dana was Kevin’s slave to match the time period as well as to hide that they were from the future. As time passes by, Dana is treated fully like a slave and is treated brutally by Rufus’ father because he feared her knowledge. He feared that her education would bring his other slaves to fight back against him. The book itself is basically about Dana’s experience in slavery having her to understand the situation better. Her experience also did make her courageous since she had to go through all the hardship. I do enjoy reading non-fictions because it tells me a story of our history and Kindred is much of a historical story with an idea of time traveling which I find it very interesting. There are lot of people who enjoy reading fictional books because it tend to give them entertainments, but those books are ‘fictional’ and it does not really teach of us about the world we are living in. This novel simply gives us the excitement in reading a science fictional novel, however also allow us to know the world we were living in. Slavery surely was a huge issue in the past that it is a topic we should never avoid since we have to accept that racism was a huge issue and it still is. 

The subtlety of time traveling in Kindred is very similar to the time traveling in The Time Traveler’s Wife. Both of these novels do not show the ‘good side’ of time traveling. When I was much younger, I always thought of time traveling as something very exciting, something that people would want to do to go back in time to change something the way you would want it to change. In these two books, the protagonists weren’t wishing to time travel, but rather was something that happened naturally that it simply gave us a negative aspect of time traveling. I think it was much more effective by showing time traveling in a negative way because  it does connect with the world we are living in now. It’s so realistic that it gives us an idea that all those we thought were awesome as a child may not be so great. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 12: In Class Reading _ Bloodchild

Octavia E. Butler

  1. What is your reaction to the text you just read?

When I first read this short story, I was very much confused since nothing was described, Tlic or Terran. As I read through the text and started to understand what the two words were, I got pretty disturbed, not by the bloody mess that was happening in the story, but rather how the system worked between a Tlic and a Terran. This surely is an alien based story, however I would wonder who the real ‘alien’ was in this world, the Tilc or the Terran. In the text there was a part where T’Gatoi said, “The animals we once used began killing most of our eggs after implantation long before your ancestors arrived,” which might indicate that Terran, whom are most likely to be humans, came later than the Tilcs. Does this mean that Terrans were the aliens?

  1. What connections did you make with the story? Discuss the elements of the story with which you were able to connect. 

For some reason, this story reminded me of the movie ‘Alien’ and some other alien films that I have watched in the past since there are things such as implantation in those films. When growing up as a child watching some of these films, it does sound as if many monstrous alien-like creatures would use humans as a host for giving birth to their children, most of them by providing blood or flesh. In Bloodchild, it is as if humans (Terrans) are like animals since they are just a ‘food source’ for the Tlics’ to be born children. Just like how humans see animals as our food source, it would be the same for other species that might be living far away from us.  I’d say this kind of alien-like activities of using humans for their own goods has be used in movies and books numerous time that this might be many people’s ideal thought on aliens that leads to people’s fear for alien invasion.  

  1. What change would you make to adapt the story with another medium? What medium would you use? What change would you make?

This story might be quite interesting to create into a comic book to show the graphic and creative part of it. To give people a better idea how these creatures may look like. If I was to draw comic, I would stylize it in order to avoid disgusting the viewers. This way it might get a better range of audiences. It’d also be better to get rid of some of the extreme details with the gores for the sake for those who might find things disturbing to look at.

Another medium I would like to see this story in would be as a film. I personally am not really into alien films since they use large amount of computer graphics that look very much fake, however watching it once in a while does entertain me. Having to grow up alongside of family members who love to watch horror films, I was soon adapted in watching many horror films and other disturbing films. It is true that horror and gore are completely different, but at some point I do enjoy watching both for the thrill. Unlike my comic thought of this story, in a movie I’d like to see it in good quality and details to make the thrill real. Comic is something people of many ages enjoy reading, but there are so many movies that are mainly directed toward adults that this story would be fun for older people to watch it. Also movie gives out a complete different feeling compared to a comic book since movies use actors and actresses to make it quite real. The disturbing and gory part of the story may be graphic ending up disgusting many people, however that thrill will definitely be something people would dig for. 

Week 11: Cyberpunk and Steampunk

For this week, I have watched the three movies posted up on the class blog: Ghost in the Shell I & II, Paprika, and Blade Runner. Each of these movies include some kind of robotic character. All of these movies seem to fall under cyberpunk rather than steampunk since they tend to focus on advanced technological and scientific achievements rather than the usage of steam-powered machineries. It is true that cyberpunk is more of a science fiction that many of us enjoy reading or watching through a book or a movie, however I personally think it is something that may come to reality. Sure, there are many things that has to be run by humans, however there also are so many things that are run by machineries or technology. 

It is quite frightening to think “what if robots come to reality?” or “what if technology takes over?” 

The reason I have said that I personally think cyberpunk was something that might come to reality was because there are so many invention that were invented in such short period of time that cyberpunk era might not be too far away. In 2011, Japan invented a humanoid robot that looked pretty realistic. Of course, they weren’t able to communicate with people, but they made a system to allow two humanoid robots to communicate with each other. In April 2016, it was released that China revealed a highly realistic humanoid robot. This is still being developed by people in Japan and China that although the humanoid robots can’t communicate with humans, they surely are coming to look very similar to a human. 

Many people do say this might happen long later, but it might be right around the corner, who knows how fast the world can turn. Just 60 years ago, we had no mobile phones, computers, or any advanced technology we have now. Mobile phones and computers were invented in the early 1970s and that was only 40 years ago and when I was still little in the late 1990s, mobile phones with a touch screen was only a dream which soon came true. The technology is moving so fast that who knows when we will have a robot or two that can communicate with humans. This definitely is a question only time can solve. 

Week 10: The Fiction of Ideas

"Farenheit 451"
Ray Bradbury (dir. Francois Truffaut)

I have read Farenheit 451 back in middle school and have reread it for this class as well as watched the movie to know about it better. As a kid who didn’t really enjoyed reading back then thought maybe a life in the book wasn’t so bad, but of course I was only a dumb kid to think such way. It is true that there was once a time period when book burning was huge in the USA. Why they burn it? It was to reduce people’s knowledge through books and have them think less of those ‘unnecessary’ thoughts and go with how the government wants to run the country. It was the same with Nazi Germany when they burnt books that viewed as being subversive or as representing ideologies opposed to Nazism. A huge number of religious literatures were burnt in order prevent people from believing anything other than the ‘great leader’ of their choice. 

I could only think of this book burning events to be occurred due to one’s selfishness. It is true that books do give a person more various range of thoughts and knowledge about the genre of the literature, but that simply equals to freedom. Allowing someone to have their own thoughts and live a life as they please is their freedom. Of course there are wronging people should not do such as murder, but if people do something like and say they did it because it was their freedom to do what they please, then they simply are just heartless psychos. A book is a thing for not only knowledge, but also for entertaining that I don’t understand why in Farenheit 451, the firemen would burn all types of books. Books are just like movies, they both include stories and creativities that many people have never thought of. It is surely frightening how there were once a time just like in Farenheit 451 because it explains that our world isn’t much better than the world in the book. 

Week 9: Space Opera

“Firefly” & "Serenity”
Joss Whedon 

Serenity is a movie that is related to the television show, Firefly. The show explores the lives of a group of people who are fighting on the losing side of a civil war. It is a space western drama that it is science fiction, however gives out an idea that in the future technology will be advanced, however the political and ethical problems won’t be different from today. Not that this only took place in the future, but the show also included psychical abilities, which is only held by one person, River Tam. Although the main character is Mal (Malcolm Reynolds), an owner and captain of his spaceship, Serenity, the whole plot itself all connects to River. 

When I first watched this show, I wondered why people were using Chinese for curse words and were other Asian worlds included in some part of the show. I did some research and figured out that it was because in this futuristic world, only the two superpowers, the US and China, survived and fused to form the central federal government. I would understand the two powerful countries to come in power, however I surely was quite disturbed by the fact that there were literately no Asian cast for the show. Having to show no Chinese was just simply a mistake, I’d say since it may be quite an insult to Asian audience. 

Despite the Chinese aspect of the show, I personally find the show quite entertaining since the political aspect of the show was quite realistic. All the problems that is going on right now are something that has been going on for a long period of time that I personally believe that it will continue on in our future and is something we can’t avoid. There are always going to be people who thinks different from others and conflicts will happen for sure. Firefly simply presents this kind of reality.