Essay 2: Text

Essay 2: Text2021-04-13T09:36:20-05:00

Dystopian Utopia: The Present in The Future

“It’s a strange day
No colors or shapes
No sound in my head
I forget who I am
When I’m with you
There’s no reason
There’s no sense
I’m not supposed to feel
I forget who I am
I forget
Fascist baby
Utopia, utopia
My dog needs new ears
Make his eyes see forever
Make him live like me
Again and again
Fascist baby
Utopia, utopia
I’m wired to the world
That’s how I know everything
I’m super brain
That’s how they made me
Fascist baby
Utopia, utopia”
Utopia, by Goldfrapp
Science Fiction as a genre, to a certain extent, reflects to human society of a certain age, which performed the role of a mirror that illustrates the shape of that society. Although Science Fiction writers would like to set their work in a context that century after his or her own time, their work still presented their time in that shape of future. Considering three works from our class: Metropolis (1927), Blade Runner (1982), and […]
By |March 3rd, 2021|Essay 2|

Ken Liu’s, “Byzantine Empathy” and Experiencing Reality

There is a debate over whether large charities and NGOs are actually helpful in times of crises. Ken Liu’s short story “Byzantine Empathy” enters this debate by presenting the reader with two former roommates who embody two sides of the argument. Both women represent long debated sides, but a new tool emerges to radicalize the way the world sees humanitarian crises: immersive virtual reality. The intensity of the VR immersion is not our current reality, however, Liu’s short story parallels how interactivity and dissemination of information influence actions whether for good or bad. 

In “Byzantine Empathy” Jianwen creates a new cryptocurrency Empathium, which allows users to directly donate to refugees. Sophia is the head of an international humanitarian charity, Refugees Without Borders (RWB.)  RWB joins Empathium to win back donations from younger funders. RWB brings in more money and […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2, Lupita O.|

Contexualizing the Distopia of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 presents a dystopia in which literature, reading, and writing are forbidden. Its protagonist, Guy Montag, works as a fireman, whose primary responsibility is to burn books, the culture’s most objectionable materials. Formulated through the willed and technological transformations described in Raymond William’s Utopia and Science Fiction, the narrative’s social order is upheld by both humans and robotic instruments. The story presents an alternate American history, yet it spotlights the degeneration Bradbury saw in his real country, in real-time.

“During the McCarthy reign of terror, I wrote a novel titled Fahrenheit 451 which was a direct attack on the kind of thought-destroying force he represented in the world,” Bradbury told Show magazine in 1964. Though disturbed by the senator from Wisconsin, who weaponized the fear of communism to blacklist Americans and gain political capital, Bradbury’s disdain for censorship and book burning also stemmed from earlier history. In a […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Connor, Essay 2|

Essay 2: Text

Achille Wangam 

Professor Keramidas 

Sci-Fi HTPF 

02 March 2021 

                                                                         Essay 2: Text

Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream,” speaks of the takeover of the world from technology after killing everyone and letting only 5 people live. This text is interesting because throughout, there are some prevalent themes that appear throughout the story. As I was reading it, I often caught myself noticing religious themes but in reverse, a bit of “No Exit” by Jean-Paul Satre and this fear that is well known to humanity, the downfall of the technological takeover and man’s loss of control over it. But I also had […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

Retrolabeling Latin American SF: The Evolutionary Feedback Loop in Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Circular Ruins”

One rarely classifies Jorge Luis Borges’ body of work within the genre of science fiction, however, the respective retro labeling of some of his seminal works within Ficciones, specifically “The Circular Ruins,” captures the descriptive essence of science fiction. Borges employs a Promethean subtext when the protagonist of “The Circular Ruins,” to whom he refers as the wizard, dreams up his perfect predecessor over the course of several years. In the early 15th century, supernatural was derived from the Latin super meaning above and natura meaning nature. What the wizard attempts to do is create something above nature, or outside of the natural order of creation. In the creation of this predecessor, the wizard suggests that the evolution of humanity is ascending to that beyond our conceptions of […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Institutional Power

Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild swept science fiction awards when it was published in 1984 for its depiction of a terrifying interdependent relationship between a parasitic extra-terrestrial life-form called the Tlic and a colony of humans who escaped earth to live on their planet. In this world, Tlics impregnate male humans with their eggs—which, if they aren’t cut out in time, will fatally poison their human hosts—in order to give birth to their young. The story centers on a young human boy, Gan, living alongside his family within a government preservation, who has been chosen to carry a Tlic named T’Gatoi’s eggs. Yet, when an emergency “birth” needs to be performed on another human by T’Gatoi, Gan witnesses what this ritual truly entails: cutting a human open and ripping out the worms that have hatched from the eggs before they can eat their human hosts. Reeling, Gan confronts T’Gatoi about the severity […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2, Katie M|

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale, written by Canadian author Margaret Atwood in 1985, is a dystopian fiction set in New England near Cambridge. Margaret Atwood was born in Ottawa but finished her degree at Harvard University. When she wrote the book in the mid-1980s, it quickly became the best-seller that well-known as anti-utopian books. It is written during the period of conservative revival in the West to response to several cultural factors: “the feminism of the 1970s, the “greed is good” zeitgeist of the 1980s, and tensions between individual liberty and exploitation.” (7) Offred, the handmaid, described her daily life and memories in a society where free will is a luxury for women. The society is a totalitarian state called the Republic of Gilead where individuals are categorized by different classes such as wives, daughters, handmaids, and economwives. This Christian fundamentalist theocratic society raises because of the low birth rate in the […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

The Appeal of Immortality in a World Filled with Secularism and Violence in Zero K

It’s no secret that humanity is moving towards a more technologically advanced society, but at the same time, it is also moving towards a more secular one as religion declines. Published in 2016, Don DeLillo’s Zero K emulates this extremely well through the theme of technology becoming the new religion, the new “god,” in the future. As we become more and more dependent on it, we consequently look to it as the answers to all our problems, including, and most importantly for the sake of this novel, death.

In Zero K, the answer to death is cryogenics. The plot follows narrator Jeffrey in an off-the-books cryogenics facility (called The Convergence) run by his father, who plans on going into cryogenic sleep with his wife, Artis, who has been afflicted with multiple sclerosis, among other things. Simply put, the desire […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2, Shane|

The Queerness Behind Dune’s Kwisatz Haderach

It is not possible to say whether Frank Herbert had a queer agenda in mind or not when he envisioned Dune (1965), but his idea of the savior as the Kwisatz Haderach whom his main character Paul Atreides, is discovered to be, is a perfect metaphor for the current rhetoric surrounding queer, trans and non-binary bodies. While Mr. Herbert’s magnum opus has been analyzed and dissected in countless ways and through the lenses of many different philosophical, anthropological and social studies, it is important to point out that ultimately, the author has rested the fate of his galactic world on the hands of a human who transcends gender. The Kwisatz Haderach, the savior of the Empire is a trans/non-binary person, and it is actually because and through this subject’s trans-ness that they are meant to bring peace to the universe. 

Within the magical world of Dune (1965), it […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

Dimensionality in Flatland

            Considered as a literary classic, Flatland has been read and re-read in terms of its satirical value on rigid Victorian class structures, while at the same time, the component of inter-dimensional travel is often forgotten. Even today, more focuses are directed towards the historicist interpretation of Victorian values rather than the mathematical reasoning, despite the latter being the intrinsic conceptual framework for the book. Though dimensionality contributes to the satire, its interpretations are certainly not limited to it; in fact, these interpretations evolve with the progression of time. This essay will briefly identify its evolving significance in three time periods in particular: the Victorian era, early twentieth century, and today.

            Beyond its satirical value, Edwin A. Abbott’s investigation into dimensionality can also be considered as his way of reconciling religious visions with science. During the Victorian era, the general devotion to Christianity was stronger than […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

Lois Lowry’s The Giver: “A Metaphor for Teaching History” The Banning in A Dystopic Future

Anthropological science fiction explores human culture and asks the question, “What is [hu]man?” (Stover 472).  In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, a dystopian society is created. Individualism is removed and the society functions as a collective without emotions. The sameness of everyone and everything promotes their black and white peaceful existence. Lowry creates a world without war, history, pain, selfishness, greed, lust, jealousy, bias, passion, and love. In her novel, one pill takes away emotions, making life colorless. Lowry was inspired to write this story after seeing her own father suffer from memory loss (Ulaby). The lack of remembering makes life colorless. Lowry’s The Giver teaches us the importance of experiencing all that makes us fully human; individual memories—good and bad—and historical memories—good and bad—are part of that colorful, feeling human experience.

In Lowry’s novel only one individual knows the historical past, keeping all the other members of the society limited in […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2|

SF in Context: Decolonial Post-humanity in El visitante de las estrellas

As described by Ursula K, LeGuin, science fiction is a description of our everyday life in an unfamiliar context (xii).  Thus, it’s a genre that represents our contemporaneity and proposes some changes. In the case of the short novel El visitante de las estrellas (The Visitor from the Stars, 2017), the Puerto Rican author, Pabsi Livmar, utilizes science fiction to reflect on subjects like gender, war, the post-human, and otherness. As a colonized individual, her work reflects systematic colonization and oppression. In this novel, a new species of humans called homosapiensul, where the suffix -ul means individual or person (Livmar 19), lives on another planet after Earth was destroyed. The planet was previously populated by an alien species called timli. This short novel provokes us to question who the post-human individual is a non-gendered homosapiensul who descends from Homo sapiens and reproduces the same power structures; the alien species, who suffered […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2, Paola E.|

Redesigning Women: Sacrificial Bodies in the Women of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Justine shook her head mournfully. ‘I do not fear to die,’ she said; ‘that pang is past. God raises my weakness and gives me courage to endure the worst. I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you remember me and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting me. Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of heaven!’” (Shelley, 72)

The women in Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” are often considered to have very little depth, if any at all. There is the saintly Elizabeth, Victor Frankenstein’s ‘cousin’ and later fiancée, whose primary attribute is angelic goodness. There is also Frankenstein’s own mother Caroline, a sort of proto-Elizabeth, who once again, only seems to have the primary characteristic of kindness and maternal love. And finally, there is the poor doomed Justine Moritz. Like Caroline before her, Elizabeth somewhat adopted […]

By |March 2nd, 2021|Essay 2, Kat C.|

Essay 2: The Cultural Revolution Narrative in the Three Body

The Three-Body Problem is a science fiction by the Chinese writer Cixin Liu. The story starts under the background of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Ye Wenjie, who was born into an intellectual family, suffered from the government’s oppression and witnessed her father’s death in a struggle session, and eventually lost faith in humankind. She finds a way to send an interstellar message and receives the message from the planet called Trisolaris. Ye then assists the Trisolarans to invade the earth. The main part of the story tells about how humankind tries to withstand the assault of the Trisolarans over a time span of hundreds of years and imagines the ultimate fate of human civilization.

Unlike in many science fiction, where the stories happen in an imagined future, The Three-Body Problem begins in the past. The origin of the series of events rooted in the China 1960s. The Cultural Revolution serves as […]

By |March 1st, 2021|Essay 2, Xiuzhu|

Essay 2: The Dispossessed

The setting of Ursula Le Guin’s novel The Dispossessed presents obvious references to the political landscape of its time. Originally published in 1974, Le Guin’s anti-war sentiments during the Cold War shine through in this complex, ambiguous utopia. The novel follows the journey of Shevek the protagonist from the peaceful anarchist society of Anarres, a satellite planet of Urras. Urras, on the other hand, consists of three different authoritarian states: A-Io, a wealthy, capitalist society, Thu, a state under the rule of a socialist government, and Benbilli, an underdeveloped region. With A-Io and Thu waging a proxy war in Benbilli, Urras mirrors the shape of our own history, during which the United States and the Soviet Union generated proxy wars in Vietnam and many other countries around the globe.

Although the analogies and political messages encoded in the story may seem straightforward at first glance, this reduction of the story in […]

By |March 1st, 2021|Essay 2, Katie H.|
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