I think something that makes Okorafor’s science fiction different than most of the other we have read is the connectedness of all the characters because of social media. She uses this ability to connect with the entire world through social media like YouTube or fandoms like Anthony’s fan base. The butterfly effect way that this story is written is expanded and explodes when a medium like social media in introduced because the ability to affect others is made more accessible. In many of the other novels and short stories we read, the characters were isolated and experiencing the events of their story without the ability to connect to another person. That isolation centralized the story around a single person and everything happened to that one person who could not escape their situation. As I said before this story is more of a butterfly effect and so for the first time we get to experience what a whole community would feel, be that a physical community or a fan group, in the case of an alien invasion.
Emotional strained cyber hacker is “saved” by a cool warrior chick who takes him on an adventure back into his old life of crime and takes away his drug addiction. But . . . its not what he thinks and he’s dragged into a huge crazy mess of crime, drugs, fighting, old girlfriends, and ninjas. After its all over he gets paid, gets a new girlfriend, and does his best to become a drug addict again because that’s a good thing.
There are moments in Neuromancer that are so up close its as if Gibson is looking through a microscope at every object in the room and explaining to us what he sees. I wonder if it is even important to know these small details and if the story would be the same without them, but because he is mentioning them, they seem important. For example, the moment he describes the gun he picks up from the black market and we find out the kind of gun it is a model of a model of. The plastic. The feel of the gun at night. It can be compared to Le Guin’s foray guns of which we are only briefly told shoot metal, like human guns, unlike the sonic guns that seem to just make you feel uncomfortable or pass out. On that note, the guns in The left hand of darkness are less important it seems than the gun in Neuromancer. Maybe they are just as important but they aren’t given as much thought and detail. We don’t particularly know what any of Le Guin’s guns look like let alone feel like. The story is still just as interesting and has just as much that can be said about it. What ends up happening is that we get an enormous sprawling and mystical landscape from Le Guin, or a map of a new world where we take in what is necessary, and from Gibson we are force fed sensory information that seems unnecessary but because we as readers generally trust that an author will only tell us what we need to know for the story to go on, we try to make meaning from sensory overload.
For lack of materials, due to the circumstance of being stuck on a train, I’ll try my best to summarize my specific points. The first point of “Speech Sounds,” the moment in which Rye is attempting to catch a bus to Pasadena, in which she mentions that the driver of the bus only runs a completely autonomous business out of his bus to feed him family. That moment in stark contrast to the moment that Deckard takes his hover car over to the Rosen association, seems to be suggesting the fact that without human communication, there can be no technological forward advancement. Even the disconnected and overly controlled, by mood organ, social interactions within Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? serve as enough communication to promote technological advancement within that world. I think Butler is suggesting that what was most important and what was taken away was people ability to communicate which is in turn their ability to cooperate and coexist. Therefore they could not advance.
“How long that part of the cycle lasted he did not know; nothing had happened, generally, so it had been measureless. But at last the bones had regained flesh; the empty eyepits had filled up and the new eyes had seen, while meantime the restored beaks and mouths had cackled, barked, and caterwauled. Possibly he had done it; perhaps the extrasensory node of his brain had finally grown back. Or maybe he hadn’t accomplished it; very likely it could have been a natural process.”
At this point, Isadore is connected to something called an empathy box and is climbing a hill all alone and with countless others at the same time. The way this passage is written is completely disorienting. The narrator and the characters have, at times, no sense of what is happening to them, which makes understanding the narration difficult. Isadore, who is alone in the beginning of his chapter, is then surrounded by people who have some apparent mental connection with him, other “specials” with abilities similar to his perhaps, or he’s insane. This special connection is doubtful because Isadore, in scattered flashbacks that make little to no sense, suggests that his abilities were somehow taken away. He was able to bring animals back to life which is against the law. Something that is interesting in this book is that it seems to surround a single important sentence or half sentence in delirium so that the important sentence is ignored or misread. “Possibly he had done it; perhaps the extrasensory node of his brain had finally grown back” is a sentence that suggests someone had forcibly taken his abilities away from him, but it is easily missed because the surrounding sentences are contradictions and random animal noises. Maybe the author is trying to distract and disorient his readers.
The way the characters are introduced is really comical and maybe a product of the time. It reminds me of the radio shows about The Green Hornet, something that is also recreated in the Silver Shroud of the Fallout game series. There is an epic battle raging on somewhere beyond the reasoning of the average person and there are brave men fighting it for our sake. This war is important to us and affects us and without it we would all have terrible lives. Now of course there is a group of beautiful women available to help the men back to shape by “nursing” them to help. The main reason why this reminds of me of these is the stereotypes that the female characters fall into in their roles as entertainers for the men. Having to nurse them back to health by charming them. These tropes seem to be common to women in many types of media. Women are the daringly beautiful, sexy, adventurous sidekicks that come in to redeem the male ego and send them back into battle.
H. G. Well’s Time Machine, and Wertenbaker’s The Man from the Atom, have two main characters that seem to have a severe disregard for their own personal safety. Kirby in The Man front the Atom, puts his personal safety in the hands of a controversial scientist who is not accepted by the rest of contemporaries and allows himself to be the Guinea pig in his outlandish experiments. The Time Traveller does something similar in his story except he is putting himself in danger instead of endangering the lives of others. The reckless danger that scientist and adventure characters put themselves into during their stories seems to be a commentary on the recklessness that some endeavors into exploration and science seem to ignore. The lack of care and arrogance that these characters show toward the forces of nature that they are trying to manipulate usually ends up badly for them. The Time Traveler realizes that humanity is just a hiccup in the fate of humanity and all the cultural and intellectual progress that humans are striving for will end up in mindless crab people on a dead planet. Kirby ends up getting ripped away from his world because he allows himself to be manipulated by the Professor’s experiment. It goes along with the cautionary tale vein that is carried within many science fiction stories especially within dystopian literature. This same theme reminds me of Frankenstein. The authors might not be saying science shouldn’t be explored but that people should not play God, and that there needs to be a respect for nature.
The National Observer rendition of the Time Traveler and especially the scene in which he returns from his adventures in the year 12,203 A.D. seems to focus less on the current social class standing of man and more on the role that humanity will play in the grand scheme of history. The strangest part of this is that the story is sandwiched between a book review for what is essentially an American Girl’s handbook to snatching and catching British gentleman as husbands and an account of a golf match between gentleman and professionals that ended obviously with the professionals winning the game. These seem like such mundane and time appropriate topics compared to the tale of a man traveling in time and realizing that humanity is less important that it would like to believe. The danger and implications that the novel held, for example, the Time Traveler’s inability to return home along with his relationship to both the Eloi and the Morlocks, seems trivialized in this version of the events. The Eloi “began to weary and then irritate [The Time Traveler] because of their unsustainability,” which is a contrast from the strange connection that he seems to have with both the Eloi and the Morlocks. The lack of connection trivializes the story and make it as unbelievable as the characters who are listening to it seems to believe it to be. The fact that this story is sandwiched between two trivial pieces of unimportant information makes it seem as though anyone reading it would trivialize the story unlike reading in a book where someone would expect t find some greater meaning in the context of the story.