Thursday, April 20, 2017

To The Future~

How do I see myself 10 years from now?

    Today's world is a fairly scary and unsure time to live. With continuing high-tensions in the Middle-East, a crazy presidential election, and the huge looming threat of climate change make me incredibly frightened for the future. Personally, I think another war will probably break out like WWIII with this competition with Russia. I fear for the generations that come after ours and how society is going to have to change for them. I think the internet will no longer be the epitome of social freedom it is today (Especially with how congress has decided to put internet histories up for sale). I also think that fiction has helped me to think this way. Look at all the popular fiction in the young adult that has come out in the past years. Everything is post-apocalyptic or a dystopian world which demonstrates most people's mindset. Individually, Hopefully I have a good creative job. I'll probably be in California trying to make a living. Anything is fine with me, as long as its creative. I'll probably be working in movie, which will probably still be around. It's one of the most profitable business, and I doubt it will die in the next 10 years. With over 100 years of history, it will probably just change form. I hope to still be in the creative business because that's what I love.

How do I see myself 50 years from now?

    As I have learned in my other classes, 50 years from now we will have jobs we cannot even imagine today. The years of stable life-long careers is over. The simple jobs will all be taken over by machines, and only the educated will be able to get proper employment. Maybe WWIII has reorganized society as we know it. Some people predict that people will break down into small communities and there will be years of isolation again. Maybe people will abandon the idea of countries and be united as a populous. Maybe we need to be educated by machines to unlearn bais. Hopefully, at this time I have found someone to spend my live with. I hope I have money to eat, or at least food since a lot of freshwater sources are drying up.

How do I see the world in 100 years?

    I think that humanity will not survive what we have done to this planet. I think life on earth will go on though. If I have survived this long, I hope that I have people around me to take care of me. Maybe in that time we will have invented a way to use our stem cells and beat aging. I hope that maybe someone invents an online reality that we can entertain ourselves on. One that's better than this one at least. Still, I have been incredibly blessed in my life this far, I hope that I will have accomplished make at least some people's lives better. I hopefully have helped people and made thing better for those around me. I don't want to think so negatively when it comes to things this far in the future. I want to have hope that we can make this world a truly great place. And I will continue to hope this till I die, and I hopefully by this time I have spread that to others.

Week Fourteen: Science Fiction and Satire

    Recently, since I have been working a lot in the labs, I have gotten into many different podcasts to listen to while I work. The art of audio storytelling is fascinating, and this week's recommended The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an excellent example of how to do it right.

    One of the most interesting things about this kind of storytelling to me is how it immediately makes you close to the characters. It transcends human boundaries of traditional visual storytelling.  By relying on just the voice, the look and actions of the characters are created in the mind, just like books. It really makes the experience personal and special to the audience. 

   The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy presents itself as a zaney British talkshow adventure satire about a a finish a second edition of a space survival guide. First of all, this show is a bit hard to follow and the humor is strange. I think that is what made this such a joy to read though. British humor does not follow the usual tropes, which is what makes it so fascinating. I think the British comedy is the best part about this radio show. It's very reminiscent of things like Monty Python that have such a go-happy attitude. The show didn't dwell on the emotional aspects of an apocalypse, but instead the sheer ridiculousness of it all. And that leads to a very entertaining listen.

 This radio show also has excellent pacing. It's very quick and keeps the viewer interested, but it also takes short breaks in the main narrative, such as a short recap joke, to allow the listener to digest and compute what they have just absorbed. I think pacing is one of the most important parts about making audio storytelling work. Pacing the work is one of the most important factors and one of the easiest things to mess up. This makes The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as great listen.

    Personally, I think the original radio version is the best version of this media. It was an incredibly original satire at the time and is breaming with passion and new ideas. I think the book version and television adaptations have really lost this ability to adapt beyond the original work and create a new experience. This makes the book a bit hard to follow, because you don't hear the passion and lovely British accents coming from the characters which help (me at least) to not take the work so seriously and enjoy the satire.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Week Thirteen: Literary Speculation

For the subject of Literary Speculation, I attempted to read John Crowley's Little, Big. I say attempted, because honestly I did not finish this work. I found it fairly tough to read and not easy to follow. It may have been that the .pdf quality did not agree with me and this is the kind of story that I would need to sit down with it physically and take my time (which at this point in the semester I am severely lacking) with. Some of the sentences also run on for a long time, which makes them fairly difficult to read. I was also confused a bit on the formatting, since the chapters appear to be incredibly small but the time passing between them is not.

Little, Big is a generational fantasy about a family that interacts and travels dimensions around the mysterious fairies. The family lives in a mysterious house, called the Drinkwater that boarders the fae dimension. The magic plays a more subtle part in this story, and it mainly focuses on the relationships of the family members and the dystopian world they live in. 

Overall, the themes and mood of this story are very exciting and mysterious. Stories about dimensional travel and worlds beyond our own are very exciting tales. The author does an incredible job trying to explain a difficult concept and how it relates to the everyday person. It's also a very interesting take on tradition and exploring family bonds.

As good as the themes of this novel are, I just can't bring myself to finish it. While the concepts are cool, the windy long paragraphs are not. Time skips and jumps around without a way to measure it (in this sense, its very realistic). It was very hard for me to understand what was really going on in this story because of all the layers of meaning. Personally, I would rather read something more relatable and exciting than something that I have to force myself to understand. Either way, this novel has its good sides and bad sides. You just have to read it for yourself to figure out where you stand.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week Twelve: Diverse Position Science Fiction

I wanted to talk a little more about the in-class movie Attack the Block. I had never seen this movie before, so I was intrigued by the idea of it when we watched it in class. I thought it was a very fun twist on the Alien attack-type movie.

These days, alien invasion movies have been done to death. Ever since War of the Worlds invented this type of story, it has been very popular in the media. While some monster invasion stories, there would be a slight bit of color representation in the supporting cast, but never the protagonist and their daily life. It's so refreshing to see some ACTUAL representation and not some of the whitewashed garbage that floats around Hollywood. Representation that actually explores the lives of colored people and some of the problems they may face in reality. 

I wish these kinds of movies would come out more often, because it's so amazing how such a little twist makes this movie a truly enjoyable experience. Just by changing the character setting, it breaks the cliche. Since new ideas are hard to come by these days, these kinds of twists are memorable and iconic. It builds upon the decades of fiction that came before it and adds its own legacy.

I think that another thing that makes this movie great it the pop culture references. In today's internet culture, pop culture references are incredibly important.  They are like a new language, a sense of humor, and a way that brings our culture together. With the globalization of culture and integration of foreign culture, it becomes really hard to define exactly what exactly our culture is and how it's different from others. These references have become a part of how we identify ourselves. And of course, it's great to get a chuckle out of a Starwars reference now and then.

Overall, this movie was a very pleasant surprise for me. I really enjoy learning about films like these that do a whole new take on an existing cliche premise. Also, the British accents are just delightful.

Week Eleven: Cyberpunk and Steampunk

For this week, I took a look at the course share short-story, Fragments of a Hologram Rose by William Gibson. It is a quick look into the reality of a man names Parker who uses future technology in a bleak sort of reality.

I think the main issue with this work is that nothing happens in it. It is a very brief look at a future world, but the main character does not change at all. It's really the story of a man trying to sleep and escape his boring life in a dirty future where humans have developed technology that lets one experience the world through another's eyes. He does not grow as a person or have his life changed in anyway. He's written as a very static character. He is also not very content in this future, which is quite relatable but does little to engage the reader.

However, the world building and mood of this piece are very good. It is both innovative and relatable, especially to today with the rise of VR technology. It brings up an excellent point that if one day, VR might be able to let one truly experience the world through another's eyes. I personally wonder about the effects of such an invention all the time. It may bring out more empathy in people and bring a better understanding of each other. Maybe it will become the ultimate form of escapism, such as in this story. Maybe it will change the way people perceive reality itself.

This story embodies many parts of the cyberpunk genre. With it's great emphasis on the world and how it can be changed by technology, this short story explore a darker reality of a VR future. For being almost 20 years old, it does an amazing job imagining a different future and still is theoretically possible in our future.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week Ten: The Fiction of Ideas

      For this week, I wanted to take a look back at a short story I had to read last semester because I feel it is relevant. Second Variety by Philip K. Dick is a story about a future landscape that has been overrun by killer robots that have become so advanced it is hard to tell them apart from people. This story was written during the 50's, and the Cold War was going strong. People feared nuclear technology and everything that had to do with it. It brought forth intense questions such as the worth of such weapons and if we can properly control them.

    The narrative of this story in incredibly strait forward (and a bit clique at this point) but I think it really does personify the situation modern Sci-fi was born under. It portrays a bleak future or post apocalyptic look inspired by modern technology. People also really didn't understand the after-effects of nuclear technology and how the radiation affected people. This story plays on those fears about senseless violence to create a compelling look at what our future could be. It is possible to control such a dangerous invention, or will it be our doom?

   This story also explore human nature in how it uses empathy as a weapon and the violent after effects of our wars. It ends on a chilling note talking about how the machines already started to build machines to destroy each other. I think this especially works well when one thinks about how many of our weapons today are designed. Automatic assault rifles are not created to use when hunting food or protecting oneself. They are designed for one purpose: to take human life. It's really scary to think about why we need these weapons at all if we hope for future peace, let alone make them readily available on the gun market for everyday use. Humankind has really not changed much in the past 50 years (or 5000 years for that matter). We are still the same war hungry animals we alway were but not we have fancier toys, and this story really brings that point across.

Week Nine: Space Opera

    For this week, I wanted to re-read one first books of my favorite series, Ender's Game. I first read this book back in 2013 after seeing the movie, and I can say that although the movie was good, you cannot touch the book. My family actually already owned a copy because my brother was thinking about going to the air-force academy, and my aunt (who had three children there) recommended this book because it was very true to how the US military mindset runs.

   Despite not having read many of the 23 sequels and controversial things said by the author, Ender's Game is a great stand alone novel that has held up incredibly well after 32 years. The inventive technology is still understandable in creative today that they haven't quite become Sci-fi tropes. The plot covers the story of a genius for is trained by the military to command the "defensive" in the war against the insectoid alien species. There is also some controversy with his siblings and corruption (but that's the boring political agenda part).

    This story does an amazing job at creating sympathy for an interesting main character. I think it's hard to relate to someone who is so completely extraordinary, but the book captures the empathy with the instinct to protect children. It even fleshes out the antagonist alien race in an incredible plot twist that makes one really think about creatures and survival. It also brings up a great point in how humanity acts in regards to other civilizations such as the Native Americans when we first discovered them. It makes one wonder is we have really improved and fixed the barbarous nature since then.

    I think another this that is book was really inventive with was the idea of games. This book includes virtual reality and intensive strategy games long before they were invented and they are a critical key to the plot. During the time this book was written, video games had just had the great crash of 1983. Machine arcade games were popular and simple atari games with flat graphics were the norm. There wasn't any real video games described at the level in the book, but so many have been designed since then. This book was great at exploring the theme of when does life stop being a game. This book works so great because of these psychological questions.

    This book as a lot to offer for a sci-fi from the 80's and it's still very relevant today. This book in particular is easy to read even when one is a teenager and it's a great coming of age story. The sequels in the series were never as popular because after all, the main character is no longer a naive child, but a man dealing with adult problems. These sequels are much better for me to read again now (and I will) because I have a much better understanding of the struggles adults go through (kind of). I recommend this story very strongly because its honestly a fascinating read and the themes are really cool.