Science Fiction 451

Nov 28

“House of Scorpion” is an exceedingly interesting Science fiction novel. It is interesting because it is so different than anything else we have read this year in ENGH 451. Although there are many differences compared the books we have already read, two stand out to me.

1.The First is the fact that this is a science fiction book and yet you aren’t hit over the head with tons of science fiction.

This semester our class has read some top notch science fiction books, such as “Neuromancer”, and “Lilith’s Brood”, played an excellent science fiction game in “Portal” and even watched a science fiction movie with “Blade Runner”. All of these works had several things in common, such as a focus on the eyes and characters with similar personalities, but most importantly they all never let you forget they were Science Fiction.

Whether it be killer A.I. in “Neuromancer” or aliens in “Lilith’s Brood”, there was never a point after I got through the first half of these works that I forgot that I was in a world dominated by science. “House of Scorpion” refrains from this. While reading this book I got the sense that the story was happening right now. Matt would say lines like, “the pink flowers withered. The strip of sky was blue by day and black at night. He dreamed of the little house, of Celia, of a meadow so intensely green, it made him cry when he woke up.” These images of flowers and the sky and a small normal house, would never pop up in the other readings unless they were also plagued with images of robots or television screens or aliens.

Because of El Patron’s need to maintain a household similar to his childhood you aren’t reminded that this book is set in the future until you get a line like, “And no one worked more than four hours a day. The rest of the time people flew around in hovercrafts and went to parties.” And “bam” you are reminded that you are reading a science fiction novel.


2. The Second is that this is the first book that writes in another human language, other than English.

The fact that so many great works are written in English, is something that I feel most English Majors, myself included, take for granted. We have read so many great works this semester where each and every one was written entirely in English, and when they dared to venture into another language it was normally an alien one like in “Lilith’s Brood” or some made up gibberish like in Blade Runner.
“House of Scorpion” is different; it uses a native human language that’s appropriate to the land where it takes place. It is set in the future and we could easily believe that the land is now occupied by some new people with a new language but instead the author keeps a traditional one.

It is first given power among English with, “Matt could read—slightly—both English and Spanish. In fact, he and Celia mixed the two languages together, but it didn’t matter. They understood each other.” This shows the fact that Spanish is equally as powerful as English in the novel. The author does not let is forget this and in fact reminds us continuously with the use of, “Buenos días paloma blanca. Hoy te vengo a saludar. Good morning white dove. Today I come to greet thee.” This reminds us that even though we are reading the book in English, its subject matter is that of a Hispanic culture.

Nov 22

Prologue: Page 1 and 2

It had happened again, pain beyond pain, me having the shit beat out of me just because I was different. The names, the constant names being yelled at me before I was even hit, Siri told me later that they kept them up while I was being beat, but the pain had made me go deaf. I don’t remember thinking anything except to block my head for fear of death. Looking back they probably thought my weak self wanted to fight back because they beat me harder and I almost passed out.

But I didn’t. This, at the ripe old age of 8 years old, seemed to be the turning point in my life. I turned on my side, and remembered in my pain finding piece, I thought I was going to die. I found resolve in this, I almost found pleasure. Then I saw my best friend Siri, the pod man. He stood there at a distance watching me. Since he had been made into a thing other than a child, other than my friend, I had no idea what he was thinking. Looking back I’m sure he was calculating each and every possibility of what was about to happen. I’m sure multiple thoughts of just walking away or running for help calculatingly marched through his impeccable mind. But he did neither he just stood there for a few moments, but for me a lifetime, staring.

In the moments that stood before the massacre, I thought more of our fate. Why the hell hadn’t my parents made me like the other boys, in all of my naturalness I have been made an unnatural beast compared to the genetically modified perfection as the boys who were certainly going to kill me. Man, and maybe I don’t have it so bad, sure I might die, sure I’m in pain. But my pain was nothing compared to the abomination staring at me from across the school yard. He wasn’t even a boy anymore. He was teased and called names, but no one even got close to him. He was feared, at least in my naturalness I could be touched. Right as a foot broke my ribs.

The crunch of my ribcase was accented by a crunch from above, I thought I must be dead at this point as blood was everywhere. Only later did I realize that this wasn’t my own blood but the blood from two of the boys after, Pod Man, zapped them both in the head. Dave down, Samuel down.


This one came from a tiny fist that moved with an unimaginable calculated speed into the face of another of the boy, Jacob. I watched his face cave in, even though Jacob was not even a second ago trying to kill me, I felt sympathy for him. It was wondrous and horrible.

After this I passed out. I thought for sure for the third time today I was dead. I dreamed of a place where I could live without this kind of pain and torture. I didn’t want to be a zombie mindlessly meandering through the hatred of mankind, but someone useful and respected. When I awoke to my crying parents, I vowed that I would enhance myself to stop this from happening again.


How I changed this scene:

I choose this scene because I believe that it is a pivotal scene in showing how very little Siri changed from a child to an adult. It was important for me to show it through Robert Paglino because he is ,self-admitted, Siri’s only friend. To me the original scene showed the calculating inhuman way that Siri viewed the world. In Pag’s voice I wanted to put the humanity back in this scene. Pag recalls the pain unlike Siri, he also feels sympathy for the ways that Siri injures the boys. Also I thought it was important to give Pag a fear of death, which it seems that Siri is incapable of feeling. I riffed on Siri calling Robert Pag, by Robert calling Siri, Pod Man. I also riffed on Siri referring to the boys as numbers, boy one, boy two, by having Robert giving them each names as a normal human being would. I had Pag talking about not wanting to be a zombie to riff on the “Fucking Zombie” remark in the actual passage. Finally I had Pag waking up in the hospital to loving parents and vowing to change his life and modify himself, as we know he does later on. This shows the difference between the boys households and also foreshadows what Pag does later on. These changes gave Pag a voice and made this scene much more human.


Oct 31

To my beloved Akin,

Akin Iyapo

I am excited to say that with your birth comes the rebirth of the entire human race. You are, as I’m sure you will perceive very soon, the first male child born to a human mother since we were “saved” by the Oankali. As with your sisters I am sure you will be smart, strong and very eager to learn. It may seem like only a fascination for you to learn all you can about life, but be sure take it extremely seriously. The Oankali will tell you of their previous forms and worlds, but you must make sure to learn all you can about your human self as well. This may seem odd to you at first as their pain and ways will seem exceedingly flawed, but you must know and you must understand. If you don’t understand the humans than humanity will be lost and our ways, no matter how flawed, will be lost in time. To truly be able to understand I will tell you about the world before.

Your father and I are natives to the planet Earth that we all live on. We lived in a society plagued by hierarchy which hindered our species great intellect. This hierarchy was so prevalent that it divided some people into think each other’s race was a separate species, and everyone to divide into cultures which believed that only they had a right to live and govern. The different cultures felt so strongly that their beliefs were right that eventually they built devices to destroy all those who did not share their view. This technology became so great that humanity eventually waged a war that almost wiped out all peoples and cultures world-wide. That’s when the Oankali stepped in.

nuclear bomb

The Oankali saved your father and my people from certain destruction, but at the price of assimilating into the Oankali gene pool. This assimilation will seem natural, like a trade to you, but you must try and understand in your lifetime how it is not. The Oankali did not ask us if we truly wanted to join them, and achieved their means because humanity had no other options. In your life I want you to always remember that. I think at some point you will have to meet up with people who still don’t believe in trading DNA and you will have to live with and know them. This I believe is your purpose.

What you are is something great and beautiful. I have accepted the trade, but only because I know you can carry on the memory of what it truly means to be human.

I have faith in you Akin and I love you with all my heart and soul.

Love your (human) mother,


Oct 26

At the begging of Dawn we are introduced to Lilith a woman who has been living in confinement for what seems like many years. She hasn’t been in control of anything besides her own sanity and will to live. Her life seems alien to us, and we soon learn that it was indeed aliens who forced her into this situation.

These aliens soon inform Lilith that they have saved humanity from the brink of self destruction and that she herself could lead the first batch of humans back to establishing their species on earth. This concept is extremely alien to Lilith but not the most alien to Lilith.

The aliens introduce them into their Oankali society. She learns that everything they use has been synthesized from other species: their ship,their tools, and even their own abilities. This is bizarre to Lilith, extremely weird, but in the end not the most alien thing.


The most alienthing to Lilith seems be the aliens gender roles. THE ALIENS MALES AND FEMALES DO NOT HAVE SEX! This is totally bizarre. The Oankali do not seem to even realize the sentiments behind human sex, on page 96 we see how the Oankali have underestimated the human sexual drive in Paul Titus, when she almost rapes and knocks Lilith out.

Sex as an alien concept to the Oankali World that Lilith has been thrust into come to its peak through the relationship between Joe and Lilith. On page 161 we see Nikanj trying to get Lilith and Joe to join in the Oankali version of sex, this type of sex occurs entirely through sensory responses and lacks one of the most important aspects of human sex.




Holding Hands


Without this contact, sex has become alien to them and even forces Lilith to say, “This was the way that someday she might be made pregnant with an other-than human child.

” You can see how alien this concept is that it pains her to picture all humans reproducing in this manner.”

Oct 17

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We3 is a Graphic Novel full of horrid, grotesque and occasionally sweet images.
While definitely a book which speaks against the mistreatment of animals and the abuse of power, by those in power; it also shows how there are people who are truly benevolent and exist on a higher level.

One of the pages I found particularly significant to these themes and the overall work, was the FIFTH page of the THIRD book.
The set up to this page is a homeless man finding the three escaped animals: Bandit, Tinker and Pirate. This man treats the animals the animals with supreme kindness and, after getting over the initial shock of them talking, offers to give them some help. He is then confronted with police who question him about seeing any animals and offering him a reward the he can obviously use.

F*** Da Police
The answer question comes at the top of the page I’m analyzing and it goes as following, “But..NAH…I seen nothing you fascist pig assholes.”

1. Plot
This page was extremely important to the plot of the book for several reasons.
a. First this page showed that the man was not actually tricking the animals, and was definitely not going to turn them over.
b. Second it establishes that the military has a general idea of the area that the animals are in.
c. Third and finally it shows that the military is definitely going to use the bull mastiff to try and destroy the animals.

2. Character
This page establishes the personality of the homeless man.
a. The first thing we see is that he values life more than money
i. This is established due to the fact he doesn’t turn the animals in
b. The second is that he distrusts and possible out right hates the military/ police.
i. By naming them as “pigs” we see the outright hatred of this character.

3. Symbolism
a. This Man is a Savior
i. He sacrifices himself rather than put the animals in harm’s way.
ii. He buys the animals time by getting arrested
iii. Most importantly he shows the animals that he is benevolently compassionate, through the way he treats them, which foreshadows his adoption of the animals later on.

4. Visual Design

1. Panel One
a. This panels shows close up on the mans eyes
b. We see here that the man is sad and tired looking, but I think it also shows a fiery passion which has ignited the fierce determination that he has to save the animals
c. The fieriness is shown through the yellow glow of the panel and the redness of his eyes.
2. Panels Two – Four
a. These panels emphasize wetness and water colors.
b. We see rain pouring down and men in green and blue uniforms.
c. It’s almost like the panels are crying as you move down the page for what is about to happen.
3. Panel Five
a. RED
b. This panel talks about unleashing a blood thirsty hell hound and in return we see that the entire panel is red like fire and blood, and glowing like the gates of hell.

Sep 28

Nueromancer is by far one of the most complicated books I have ever read. This novel not only submerses the reader into a world they do not know, but also expects the reader constantly fight to understand the world.

In class we talked about how the first six chapters bombarded the reader with image after image and word after word of technologies and societies we do not know. We are faced with the fact that the United States has become super- city known as “the sprawl” and that humans are not only able of replacing their organs with lab grown super organs, but actually augmenting their appearance with things such as “mirrored inlays”. These concepts are extremely hard to grasp and paired with the fact that narrative shifts from day to day, hour to hour event to event the learning curve is extremely steep to be able to even read this book. I believe in class someone referred to it as “being thrown into the deep end and being expected to swim or die”. I think I can only explain it by comparing it to the experience of listening to a hardcore punk song for the first time. You don’t know what they are saying, you can’t keep up with the pace and you are presented with scenes you have never experienced before.

In chapters 7-13 I felt like we faced a different problem. By this point I began to get used to the fact that the narrative and storyline was erratic and that I was probably not going to understand the culture. But this is where I felt the technology became baffling. We are shown images of a man that can produce holograms around him, and we are introduced to various forms of artificial intelligence. At the last part of chapter 9 we have Case talking with the A.I. named Wintermute. Wintermute is able to not only pursue Chase through the matrix, but also construct his memories into a seemingly real state to talk to him in. This blew my mind more than anything else we had read.


When people jack into the matrix are they using their memories projected onto a computer or are they themselves the computer?
Are artificial intelligence truly capable of learning in this universe? And if so, where do we draw the line between artificial and real minds?

Sep 19

“The Comet” by W.E.B. Dubois is a fantastic sorry about a comet which wipes out all humans in the vicinity of the two main characters; a poorer black man and a rich white women. The two work together to try and find help throughout the first day of the Apocalypse. As night falls the two feel as if they should toss aside their racial and class boundaries to repopulate for the sake of the Earth. As the two are in an embrace about to give into their primal human instincts, we discover that the woman’s family is still alive and so is the man’s and that it was only New York that was obliterated. Once this it is established that the rest of society is intact, the woman goes back to being rich and the man is treated once again as a second class citizen and is immediately threatened. Only through the changed heart of the woman is he not killed, and is in fact rewarded.

At first read I pretty much figured out that W.E.B. Dubois was using a natural disaster to show that society and society alone was the cause for all the racial prejudice of his time, and that when it is destroyed humanity takes over. Then as I read it again, I wondered why it needed to be a Comet? It could have easily been an earthquake or flood or even a war, but instead Dubois used a comet. Why a comet?

I think he needed to use a comet for several reasons:

1. Its mysterious.

A flood or an earthquake are fairly common things people; have experienced them before. So if Dubois used one to wipe out the city he would have to have experienced one before to accurately describe it. Most people have never experienced a comet, so he could apply any attributes he needed to it to fit his story.

2. It had to be something that could be apocalyptic.

The natural disasters I mentioned before could only do so much damage. It was important for this story, that there was a possibility of global annihilation and of all the natural disasters a comet or asteroid are the only ones that could achieve this.

3.It’s biblical

The use of comets to signify important events has been used throughout time and especially (some argue) in the bible. It’s pretty obvious that Dubois is putting his characters in an Adam and Eve situation and only a comet could really signify that their meeting was of such importance.

So because of these reasons Dubois used a comet, and laid down the basis for many Science fiction stories to come.

Sep 14

Oh the difference that changes make.

Frankenstein is a book that has captured the attention of thousands of readers since it’s publication in 1818. It was initially criticized as an “abomination” but soon gained the admiration of it’s readers. Frankenstein quickly gained popularity and was adapted into many plays, of at least one Shelly witnessed. With all of the success this book was quickly up for reprinting in 1823. According to the site, this reprinting changed many grammatical choices of Shelly’s and also updated some of the words. This addition is seen to be fairly similar to the original print, however there some instances such as “1818 [towards my fellow-creatures] 1823 towards the beings of my own species” where the editor made some word choices which seem to direct the reader in a different direction than Shelly originally pointed them. Most of these additions and changes wern’t to glaringly different from the original.

This brings us to the 1831 publication. This edition was edited by M.K. Joseph, who presumably took the changes made to the 1823 edition and changed the book drastically. These changes included, “It was, perhaps, the amiable character of this man that inclined me more to that branch of natural philosophy which he professed, than an intrinsic love for the science itself. But this state of mind had place only in the first steps towards knowledge: the more fully I entered into the science, the more exclusively I pursued it for its own sake. That application, which at first had been a matter of duty and resolution, now to “In a thousand ways he smoothed for me the path of knowledge, and made the most abstruse enquiries clear and facile to my apprehension. My application was at first fluctuating and uncertain; it gained strength as I proceeded, and soon”. This is just one of 192 changes made from the 1818 edition and it is a huge one. In the original text we see a man who is fixated on a specific branch of  “natural philosophy” and in the seccond we see a man who gained resolve in his wan’t to study thanks to his teacher. This small change completely changes the passion we see building behind Frankenstein’s studies.

But why were these changes made? There has been much speculation about this, but I have to think that it is to cover up what literary people of the time considered Shelly’s feminine qualities. The original edition showed the passion that Frankenstein had, his ability to love and feel, but these are considered feminine traits and I think the editor covered up this, because he though Frankenstein was a strong male character and that these traits weakened his credibility as such. The 1800’s were not a good time for a progressive female, and I think that the 1831 editorial changes were a way to stifle such a creative women, as Shelly was.

Sep 06

I was thinking today what I would write for my first blog post. Frankenstein has been exceedingly interesting, but I couldn’t help think about our discussion between the differences in Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I sat and talked to my friends about what really made the two distinct. At first they mentioned things, such as the excessive use of technology in sci-fi and how most Sci-Fi books are extremely serious. They tended to take the view that Fantasy tended to focus a lot more on the story-line and that most magic and other unusual concepts was generally already accepted by the people in the book, whereas in Sci-Fi the authors spent a lot of time explaining how all the technology works. We came to a conclusion that fantasy writers seemed to wan’t to explain social issues in a way that seemed fake and could not possibly happen in our world yet somehow familiar to the reader, while Sci-Fi  writer tried to explain the same issues set in a recognizable world, but from a strange perspective or reality that could happen or could have happened in the past.

This got me to search the web for others takes on the issues, and after several articles and clicks ( as so often happens when I use the internet) I was led one of my favorite websites This website has humorous explanations of science and history as well as pop-culture. The article I came across was discussing flaws in technologies used in famous Sci-Fi films. This article got me to think that the main difference between fantasy and Sci-Fi, is that people to this day will discuss the inner workings of a time machine or how robots could become sentient; but hardly ever do you hear people arguing about why magic exists, or a mouse could talk or how likely it is that common languages in most fantasy books seem to be the same as english.

Science Fiction allows people to access a different world in which they at this moment could see themselves living. Fantasy is a place so fictionally that they wish they lived there.

Sci-Fi allows our world to be stretched into the future or into a dystopian setting, and while Fantasy is capable of doing the same, it will never be close to reality because it always carries an idea, such as magic or races that don’t exist, that can never exist.

Aug 30

My page is up and running…and science-y! 🙂