Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ellison's farewell?

In this interview, Harlan Ellison, whom I invoke frequently, tells Isthmus that this weekend's MadCon in Madison, Wis., will be his last convention appearance, that the new publication of his collaborative teleplay The Discarded will be his last book, and that the 15,000-word introduction he wrote for the book, titled "Riding the Rails in Atlantis," will be his last piece of writing for publication.  The 76-year-old says, "I'm busy writing the end of the longest story I've ever written, which is me."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Paper Topics / Ethical Analysis

I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering what I should choose for my paper topic, and have stumbled on an ethical question. Is it ethical to analyze a work of literature from a perspective that you fundamentally disagree with as long as you make an effort to do so to the best of your abilities? For example, after overcoming my initial horror and disgust for "Spar" I attempted to find a proper lens through which to view it. After thinking about it, I realized that "Spar" read with a Marxist interpretation is a fairly interesting metaphor. The alien could represent the owners of the means of production, and its actions the bourgeois attitude of the wealthy to the suffering of the lower class. I see a good amount of potential in that analysis for a respectable paper. However, as a Libertarian, I am in fundamental disagreement with the Marxist perspective. I do not believe that society is in a constant state of class-warfare. Would it be ethical for me to pursue that line of analysis in a paper for this class?

As it is, I am thinking about doing a paper on the use of psychology in "It Takes Two" and "The Pelican Bar." Both are obviously unethical uses of our current knowledge of psychology, but I would like to examine the extent both are possible and talk about their implications for what it means to be "human". It is common for Science Fiction to portray the decline of civilization through the rampant growth of technology, in fact the entire genre of cyberpunk is essentially grounded in this portrayal. It is interesting that two of the first stories the anthology revolve around a different type of science being abused.

I would really appreciate any comments that you might have regarding either the ethical dilemma or the psychology topic idea!

The Future of Clothing?

Okay, so apparently this company called Fabrican thinks that spray-on clothing is the next big thing in the fashion industry, and who am I to say otherwise? I don't know, but I personally will not be sporting spray-on apparel any time in the near future. Anyway, the link is to an article about this phenomena and its history in science fiction.

No man is an Island...Get it?

I think I've decided to do my paper on one of the themes of The Island: what it means to be human. There was a lot of playing with the idea of humanity changing and regressing and being weird and I think there is some worthwhile discussion in that. One of the main points of the paper would be the conceptual limitations humans have that could make it harder to properly write something that isn't human, and how that impacts the thing's human status. I'm considering writing about normalized vs non normalized behavior and how that impacts the human condition, too. That being said, any thoughts?

My paper

For my paper, I would like to focus on the interactions between aliens and humans in three of our short stories: "The Island," "Spar," and "Utriusque Cosmi." Specifically, I want to focus on the problems with interaction between the species. In all three cases, there seem to be gross levels of misunderstanding or confusion on the part of the human characters who try to apply human thoughts, feelings, and ideas to non-human life. I want to explore this human egocentrism both as a plot device and a flaw in humanity's collective thinking. I know this topic may be a bit broad, but I am going to stay focused on how it applies to these three stories. I will also be able to narrow my focus as my reading/writing/research continues if I need to. Any ideas are welcome!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Paper Topic

Hello friends! Wanted to post my paper topic for helpful commentary too! So, eyerolls aside, I'm working on writing my paper about how "The Coldest Girl in Coldtown" by Holly Black (in Strahan) is the anti-Twilight. I say again, the ANTI-Twilight. So no gooey sparkly vampiry stuff here. Rereading the story has really highlighted how grim Black's vampire world is. It's pretty dark and the romanticism of being a vampire and such is definitely not present. What caught my attention the most (without ruining the fun of my class presentation tomorrow) is the constant reference to becoming a vampire as "the infection" and the constant use of words like "poison" and "outbreak", which makes it sound more like Ebola or something (I think we talked somewhat about this in class and how it was what made the story "science fiction" which is another HUGE difference from Twilight).

Bailey loves comments. Oh, and Happy International Peace Day!

Paper topic

For my paper topic, I too was thinking about writing on "As Women Fight" I was going to approach it differently than Katy however. I was planning on discussing how the author takes traditional gender roles and uses them in her alternative world to make women an equally strong and important sex. Since most societies are historically patriarchal, I thought this story took a very interesting approach to womens roles. I was planning on using one or two pages from the book to emphasize this argument. I might also discuss how the choice of gender might impact this society, but I'm not sure where to go with that idea. Any suggestions are welcomed!

Heroic Death

I had to do some searching for my paper topic but I believe I have finally found what I want to write. I was looking through Zeppelin City and I came across the passage where Amelia Spindizzy is swooping around the city and thinking about a heroic death. Why would anyone want to die? Even if the death was considered heroic, it is still the end. My topic is the use of the heroic death in science fiction and how it relates to the purpose of the story. What do you think?

Paper Topic

I've talked to Andy about this a little bit, but I just thought I'd share my ideas here, since a lot of you guys are sharing yours. My paper topic is going to extend from the conversation that I started in class about "Before My Last Breath." I want to talk about what I see almost as an obsession of death and outliving death in the piece. When reading the story, I can't help but notice all of the little examples of this that I find, from the obvious case of the Georges trying to escape the inevitable by burying themselves alive, to Reed's commentary on modern celebrities living on long past their deaths. I have a lot of ideas about what to include, but I was wondering if any of you had any to add, or just different ways I could approach it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Possible Paper Topic

I'm very interested in writing a paper on Little Brother. While I was reading it I was very forcibly reminded of 1984 by George Orwell. Considering the blatant reference in the title, I believe that Cory Doctorow wanted his readers to draw on the collective knowledge surrounding that work and all the implications of a highly monitored world. Therefore, I think I would like to write a topic discussing Little Brother and 1984, concentrating on the influences the latter had on Little Brother while also examining the similarities and differences of the societies (and the government's interaction and interference) in both books.

Any suggestions, ideas, criticisms?


The idea I had for my topic is the sense of scale that writers include in their works, whether it be large, small, or non-existent. Specifically, I'd be focusing on "The Island" and "Mongoose." I'll also reference other works, but those are the main ones. Any thoughts or ideas on what else I could reference, or if this is an okay topic?