WOW! just wow, I loved “we can remember it for you wholesale” I really like when I’m surprised by a story and I really did not see things going the way they did. I’ll be honest, I have watched a lot of movies but total recall is not one of them. I will be watching it soon however. (the Colin Farrell version 2012 though. I am not a Schwarzenegger fan in the least) The story even had an inception feel to it, with his dreams hiding reality. I totally did not understand the wife though, was his continuous talk of dreams of mars driving her hat crazy that she just had enough?? The story also had a butterfly effect idea going as in everything that Douglas Quail decided on doing ended up effecting what happened next. Going to Rekal made some of his real memories return, which led to the officers coming which led to running, them finding another dream to take mars’ place and then back full circle to rekal and the return of repressed dreams.
While reading “Super-Toys Last all Summer Long” I was reminded of the Japanese manga series/ animated film Astro boy. In the animated film made in 2009, a man loses his son and can not cope with that loss. He has a robot made that possesses all of his son’s memories. The robot “Astro boy” thinks he is the son and not just a robot. In the short story the young boy David is acquired by a couple that has wanted a child for a while but hadn’t won the required lottery to allow them to have one of their own. Once they win that lottery the question is what they will do with the boy. They have no issue keeping the teddy bear but the boy was having some issues communicating properly so they were just planning to send him back to the factory where he came from. It’s really quite sad because the boy throughout the story is questioning who is real, and whether or not he is real. His teddy bear says to him, “Nobody knows what ‘real’ really means.” I felt such sympathy for this ‘synthetic life-form’ , to me he was a real boy. I think that because he was unsure of his own ‘realness’ it made him real for me. Maybe if he had proved himself brave, truthful and unselfish like Pinocchio he could have become a ‘real boy’.
I found it interesting that the ‘sad’ and ‘rabid’ puppies said they wanted the best writings to be the ones to win the awards but that’s not the impression you get from them. They would gang up attempt to rig awards so that people they liked would win them . And it seems peculiar that the people they wanted to win, the ones they felt the most deserving were usually white, straight, god fearing males. They could argue their goal was quality over diversity until the cows come home, it was not quality they craved but the familiar. I feel that quality is important when assigning merit to something but diversity is important, and being diverse does not mean that it will take away from other writers. straight white males probably only make a small percentage of the population so why should they represent such a big percentage of writing. Publishing companies need to open their eyes to everything, to be willing to accept anyone as potentially a great writer. Stories come in all shapes and colors and people should have the option to read and vote for a wide variety of them.
I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to decide which story to comment on as I found 3 of them very interesting so I have decided to briefly talk about all 3 and what I liked about that story.
“when it changed” by Joanna Russ. I found this story interesting because of how the women had adapted to not need men to reproduce. That Janet and Katy are married seems completely normal that families would continue to form in such a natural way. In our reality less than 10% of the population are attracted to the same sex. It does not say whether all the women are drawn to their fellow women or maybe a few are asexual because there are no men around for them to be attracted to anyone at all. I thought it funny when Janet’s daughter Yuriko says, “I thought they would be good looking!” I also found it hilarious that the men kept insisting that where they came from there was equality between the sexes, yet they could not grasp the idea of two people of the same sex being able to be in a relationship with out one person being the dominate partner. ‘Who is on top’, or ‘who wears the pants’. I love that the women of this story were so content with their lives before men came and ruined their idyllic lives. And the former name of their home “For-A-While” ; they were at peace for that same amount of time.
“Abominable” by Carol Emshwiller. I loved that in this story all the women have seemed to vanish and the men can’t find clean clothes etc. without them. In the previous story women were completely content without men but in this one men hunted for the women as if they were mythical creatures only rumoured to be real like the abominable snowman or a sasquash. It made me giggle.
“closer” by Greg Egan. I found this story super interesting in that the character of Michael was so interested in knowing Sian in ever way possible. That they switches bodies and shared twin bodies, not just for an hour but it seemed they did these swaps for weeks or months. I unsure of whether or not I would be able to have sex with my partner while we were in twin bodies, it seems a bit too weird to me, swapped bodies maybe but not sleeping with the same body I’m in. It would be more confusing and disturbing than anything erotic. I also found it interesting that after they shared a brain (sort of) for 8 hours they could not stand to be together. They knew too much about the other. I think is a completely realistic end to the story. I do not think someone else should know every single thought that has been in your head. Have every memory as if had been their own. Everyone should be different and be their own person.
So I am doing my presentation this Thursday on “Passengers” by Robert Silverberg. During the presentation I will be talking about the alien story in general and about the author. Here in my blog post I am keeping it to my thoughts on the story.
So to sum up the story, the aliens take over the human’s body for a period of time in order to participate in complete debauchery. I’m not certain if this is because in their own form they are unable to copulate with one another. Or maybe they just get their kicks from making these humans do things they might not normally do with people they may not normally do them with. It’s like the story we looked at last week “Invaders” by John Kessel. His aliens got their kicks from cocaine whereas Silverberg’s aliens are a bit more perverse in nature. As the character Charles Roth says at the beginning, “We can never be sure of all the things our borrowed bodies did”.
Once he has come to and is formulating what he knows must have happened he explains how these aliens get their kicks a bit better,
“I can make a woman glow as a woman is meant to glow. Not boasting: just categorizing. We have our skills. These are mine. But Passengers, I am told, take wry amusement in controverting our skills. So would it have given my rider a kind of delight to find me a woman and force me to fail repeatedly with her?”
I find it humorous that he is that worried about his performance with a woman he does not know, and in a context where normally he would never see her again as opposed to the fact that his body was taken over by aliens.
The attitude of everyone not talking about what happened to them or others while being ridden makes me think of people getting super drunk and having one night stands with a stranger. It’s really the same premise; you may not remember fully what happened, you most likely will perform poorly or more wildly than when you’re not intoxicated, you slip out right after or in the morning before it gets too awkward and you most certainly do not talk about it.
I love how Silverberg throws a little Descartes quote in there, Cogito ergo sum which means “I think therefore I am”. This idea does not apply in this version of reality, because they never know when they will be taken over. And how do they really know when they are free, maybe they never are, maybe the alien is merely being quiet. Therefore they are never really free, they just have the illusion that they are.
Throughout the whole walk from his apartment to the library steps he is questioning whether or not he actually has any free will or if he merely thinks he does. It says, “I tell myself that I made this long walk of my own free will, that I halted of my own free will, that no Passenger rides my brain now. Perhaps. Perhaps. I cannot let myself believe that I am not free.”
When you jump to the end of the story, you get the impression that even though after being ridden you tend to forget what happened, during the ride you seem to be somewhat aware of what is happening.
“In that moment I feel the chill at the back of my skull, the sensation as of a steel needle driven deep through bone. I stiffen. My arms drop away from her. For an instant, I lose touch, and when the mists clear all is different.”
So it is like his brain is fully aware of what is happening but it is unable to control what his body does in any way. This can also be taken back to being similar to when someone is extremely drunk. They know what they are doing, but they cannot quite control themselves.
So this story makes me think of the alien being a mirror so that we could see our problems easier. Like maybe many of us have a ‘Passenger’ that takes over at times. Maybe our passenger arises when we are drunk, or maybe when we are angry or jealous or sad. We all do things at times that we wish we could change or take back, blaming our past selves. ‘I’m not normally like that’ or ‘I wouldn’t normally behave that way but…’ The alien is our alter ego, our Mr. Hyde.
So I could be totally off base with my reading but I see the Passenger as a version of ourselves, the ugliest version of ourselves. The version you hide from everyone, including yourself.
So here are a few videos I found funny and/or interesting from different films and television shows about aliens:
Here are the sources I used besides the text:
Malmgren, Carl D. “Self and Other in SF: Alien Encounters.” Science Fiction Studies 20.1 (1993): 15-33. Web.
and I found this helpful, it’s “Passengers” as read by Huw Carr: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vqy7gylrypo
This week my favorite story by far was “Forever Yours, Anna” by Kate Wilhelm. I’m a sucker for a good love story and that is just what this was. While reading it I forgot the theme for the week was time travel until the very end when Gordon realized he would be Anna’s future husband. It was well written and I love when a story has a good twist ending. And that he fell in love with her because of the letters she wrote to another man. “It was insane to fall in love with someone’s signature, love letters to another man.” Gordon thought himself crazy, I found it crazy romantic. It was nice how time travel was not the main focus of the story but without the story could not happen. This story brought together my favorite reading genre (science fiction) and my favorite movie genre (the romantic movie) for the very best ‘meet cute’ ever!
- a ‘meet cute’ for those who do not already know what this is, according to urban dictionary: Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better).
“Speech sounds” by Octavia E. Butler was the most horrifying of all the Apocalypse/post-apocalypse stories that I’ve read to date. The thought of losing my ability to read and speak is scarier than zombies. At least with zombies you know it is the end but with the disintegration of being able to communicate with the world around you, you would not be able to quite know when the end is near. And that the more someone was affected, the more susceptible they were to anger lead to a complete breakdown of society. “There was no more LAPD, no more any large organization, governmental or private.” And that this led to some that were less affected to become vigilantes like Obsidian had become seemed less than a safe place to be considering he dies trying to help others. The ending however was very hopeful. That the youngest children, the ones born after this strange outbreak began were unaffected by this strange disease was very good news for the future. Therefore as an apocalyptic/ post-apocalyptic tale it could be seen as not one if you were to wait for time to take the ill out of the equation and the new unaffected generation would be able to rebuild.
The short story “The liberation of Earth”, by William Tenn is in the conflict and war section but it reminded me of many books and books turned into movies about alien contact that I’ve seen. That its basis is on earthlings being young and naïve and unimportant reminded me of the movie “Jupiter Ascending”, with the exception that in that movie earth was not being used as a war zone but instead the people of earth were being harvested. The Dendi and the Troxxt people of the story reminded me of the Abrasax family of the movie, they felt earthlings were beneath them and were only good for what they could get out of them. From the Dendi people they just wanted the land and obedience from the people, the Troxxt wanted obedience and free labour. I also saw a similar theme in the Rick Yancey book series, “the 5th wave”, [also made into a movie] in that they did not care for the well- being of the humans. In this book series however it was evident that the visitors were not on their side as they were there merely for the earths resources and needed the humans gone, were as in the short story the two sets of visitors are marquerading as allys to get what they need. All of these stories paint aliens as the “bad guys” and earthlings as weak and unable to fend for themselves. They are also seen as unable to make up their own minds, being able to be swayed either way depending on who is currently in charge, almost like a child listening to whatever adults tell them because they are bigger and older therefore must know whats right.
while reading “desertion” by Clifford D. Simak it got me thinking about how things can be much different than they appear. looking at Jupiter it was seen as much harsher than it is when he is on the planet himself. as he evolved into something that could live on the planet he could see the planet as something greater/better then it had been. to evolve was a good thing, but at the same time once you move forward there is no way you want to look backwards. which is also the case in “the man who evolved”, by Edmond Hamilton, as Dr. Pollard evolved he only wanted to move forward. the only difference is that Dr. Pollard was not satisfied, he wanted to continue even further down the road of evolution, which led to negative ramifications. so in both stories the one evolving/ moving forward saw it as a good thing but those looking in did not see it that way. things that can be seen as negative, maybe can be seen more positively when you are apart of it all. so the question is are you blind before and can finally see or do you become blind to the negative and refuse to see things as they were once seen?