Gossip Mags

Although District 9 has an overarching framing device in the form of a documentary because of the interviews and obvious motions towards the camera, I was more interested in the gossip magazines which tore down Wikus’ reputation. The picture which seemed to be the sexual act of Wikus with an alien has a comical yellow circle meant to cover their genitalia. Sex scandals are sensational and this was enough to destroy Wikus’ reputation and become a target without anyone asking questions. Even Fundiswa exclaims that the government didn’t even hide the information about Wikus or the experiments well. I suppose my point is that people can be overcome with sensationalism and automatically accept something as truth because they’re told it and only see ambiguous pictures as proof instead of investigating or doubting it.

Authority and Anarchy

Although we classify Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Speech and Sounds as dystopias, at the very least, Do Androids Dream still has a semblance of control and authority. While the police and bounty hunters have a strong presence in Do Android Dream, and even more so in Blade Runner, police are nearly imaginary in Speech and Sounds. As a policeman or bounty hunter in Do Androids Dream, you have respect and authority. People easily clear a path for you (533), you can live in a high-end apartment as a successful bounty hunter (453), Luba Luft follows Deckard’s instructions (506), people won’t question you if you’ve killed someone because they trust/are intimidated by you, and take custody of someone and have the ability to make sure they are jailed if they catch a murderer (513). The police in Speech and Sounds on the other hand don’t demand this kind of respect and intimidation. Rye points out that Obsidian “decided on his own to keep the LAPD alive” even though “he was sane enough otherwise”. Obsidian is one of the only policemen left and doesn’t have the power to judge and jail someone or even get paid. He doesn’t have the power to go against large groups and his only advantage is a car and a gun. His badge is a pretty decoration and Rye wonders why he doesn’t do something useful like “raising corn, rabbits, and children”. The only reason she obeyed his commands is “mainly out of curiosity” since a policeman is such an anomaly. To her, being a policeman in this dystopian setting is insane, useless, and asking for trouble.

Is Rachael an Android?

One of my favorite scenes in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the Voigt-Kampff test on Rachael Rosen because, like Deckard, we’re trying to figure out if this woman is an android. Since the readers aren’t given much context about the post-World War Terminus beliefs, we’re kept in the dark mostly and have to guess if Rachael’s answers are acceptable responses. A film version of this scene would have to pay attention to what readers can’t do with a book. The watchers don’t depend on the how the needles move like how the readers do. The watchers of a film see the change in her expression and hear the inflection of her voice. The film uses different techniques to show her and the other androids’ ambiguity. On 20:01 Rachael looks at Deckard and pauses to smoke before answering his question. Nonchalantly smoking during an interview that determines whether or not the interviewed is an android shows off Rachael’s confidence that she’s human. She directly answers and takes her time unlike Leon who was nervous and constantly interrupted the interviewer. On 20:34 Rachael looks to the upper right briefly before Deckard interrupts her to show the watchers that she’s thinking instead of giving an automated response. On 20:53 there’s a dissolve transition that signifies the passage of time and Tyrell on 21:51 says there was 100 questions during the interview. At the time of the transition the watchers know Deckard has asked many questions and therefore didn’t know if she’s an android and the watchers can only guess if she is or not.

So Close yet So Far

“Eventually, of course, the Voigt-Kampff scale will become obsolete,” Rachael agreed. “But not now. Were satisfied ourselves that it will delineate the Nexus-6 types and we’d like you to proceed on that basis in your own particular, peculiar work” (474)

At this moment in the novel, Rick is trying to figure out whether Rachael is an andy or a human using the Voigt-Kampff test. At this moment, the readers are also trying to figure out Rachael’s identity. At this point, the test seems to have failed, but there are moments like this one that makes us suspicious of Rachael. Just a few pages before the Rosens were angry and disappointed with Rick, calling him “bad morally” because of the risk the test has on humans who are not emphatically mature. They are mad that Rachael could have been tested by this method and killed by accident in a random checkpoint. However, Rachael gives the suggestion that Rick should continue using the test even though it can accidentally cause the death of humans mistaken for andys. She also doesn’t want him to go back and report his findings so they can stop the usage of the test, stopping the hunt for androids until they develop a more accurate test. Therefore, she puts other androids in danger by not giving them the chance to run away during the new test development and encourage him to hunt more while he still has the chance. It’s later stated that Androids don’t care what happens to other androids and she doesn’t care about innocent humans stuck in the crossfire so this may be an indication to whether she is an android or not. Also, she suggests this because keeping the test is the only way Rick can keep going and bounty hunt androids immediately. She only thinks of his livelihood and his need for money instead of the consequences he would face if his work found out he knew the test would fail and still used it and even killing innocent humans while using a test he knows may fail. Rachael goes to an immediate reaction without thinking deeply. A picture of a naked woman means whether she’s sexually attracted to it than any other circumstance such as confusion that a woman would show her body for a magazine. Her reactions are meant to show her care for another person by suggesting he keep conducting the test, yet it shows how heartless she is to the people involved.

Using Humor to Counteract Unbelievability

Although I’m not entirely sure on the subject, I do think that the humor in The Big Time is meant to distract the readers from the implausible realities in the cosmos, but also maybe used in order for Greta to cope with these strange events. Greta jokes a few times about her vacation spots being 15th Century Italy and Augustan Rome which I think is for the benefit of the readers. The idea of traveling and vacationing across time and space is such a incomprehensible subject that when Greta laughs it off, it gives the impress she knows enough and is confident enough that this is the norm, it makes the readers believe it is the norm and allows her to avoid trying to explain the details of it. The vacations are so blase to her that she feels no need to talk about what interests her there, how she’s treated, or how she avoids discovery. Many of the other jokes such as seeing a “human…turn into strange fruit – ugh it always makes me want to toss my cookies and my buttons” and Illes’s inhuman looks as “cute” cuts the reader’s shock at these strange and horrifying things short as she treats them as a joke (Leiber, 28; 36) However, one of the last pieces of humor in the first part is “I might look as proud if I were in her shoes, but I sure as hell wouldn’t look as confident” which is a joke Greta thinks of while the group is going one by one and asking everyone how they feel and when she’s asked she becomes frantic and says “not to Greta, no, no, no” (56; 57). It looks like Greta was cracking a joke in order to distract herself from the situation.

Repetition of History

“It’s a worship of the past. It’s a deterioration – a stagnation!”

“Psychohistory–…Gaal Dornick, using nonmathematical concepts, has defined psychohistory to be that branch of mathematics which deals with the reactions of human conglomerates to fixed social and economic stimuli”

In the novel, Hardin says the upper quote and admonishes the Empire’s worship of the past as a sign of deterioration. Although Hardin does do this, the fact is that much of history repeats itself in different ways and everything is a form of worshiping the past. The psychohistory Hardin has been trained in before becoming a politician is a form of worshiping because it bases its analysis on social and economic behavior. The reason why Seldon can ‘predict’ the future is because he knows how human behavior works due to many samples and historical events. The Encyclopedia Galactica can be seen as a worship of the past because it documents the events in the novels and educates whoever reads it. Hardin himself follows the long-dead and holographic form of Seldon and his theories. The Kingdoms also worship the previous generation’s science as magic.

Presentation

What struck me first while I was reading the stories was the layout of the magazine. Each story has a mid to full page illustration, a review of the story, and sometimes even a drawing of the author. It was surprising to me to see a review of the story while reading the story and seeing the author or editor compare Alice in Wonderland to The Man from the Atom and how they’re similar and different and the author of The Conquest of Gola writing about the ridicule of culture. The layout is strange because instead of putting the picture of the author and the review of the story in the beginning of the story or even in the beginning of the magazine, it appears between the columns in the middle of the story. It was jarring to see these boxes of writing and drawing of authors because they took me away from the story and almost stopped me from immersing myself. I was very confused at first, but I think the reason the layout is like this is because it’s advertisement. It’s easy to imagine these pulp magazines at a newspaper stand and something a customer can only flip through a bit before being yelled at by the vendor. The illustrations are the biggest lure as the near-full page picture shows the world the story is based in,the review is on the next page or so to give the customer a deeper understanding, and the author’s picture to give them another impression on what type of person they are and stories they write.

Dramatization

The novel, in comparison to the magazine serial, has more dramatization. The magazine serial merely glides over certain scenes and feelings while the novel expands and adds more weight and thought into them. For instance, the Elois’ reaction to fire ends with different reactions. The Time Traveler uses his matches to entertain the Elois who think the “fire was a novelty” (In The Underworld. (1894). The National Observer, 12(287), 14) compared to the fire in the novel where The Time Traveler has to forcibly stop Weena from playing with it and hurting herself. Wells adds weight to the consequences of not understanding what fire can do in this era of comfort and makes the future even more dim if our descendants are not only captivated by a fire, but also throw themselves into it without any feeling of self-preservation. The Morlocks’ presence and impact is also dramatized in the novel version. The Time Traveler in the serial feels an “inhumanity” to the Morlocks and runs from them because of their appearance and thinks they’ll “take me to pieces” (The Time-Traveller Returns. (1894). The National Observer, 12(292), 145). This reaction is unwarranted because it has no proof unlike the novel where the Morlocks provoke fear in the Elois and try to trap the Time Traveler. The Morlocks in the serial act the same as the Elois as they both incessantly touch him. The Time Traveler says the Morlocks didn’t regard him “as their fellow creature”, but neither did the Elois who he says saw him as a higher being (The Time-Traveller Returns. (1894). The National Observer, 12(292), 145). The Morlocks are dramatized so in the novel version they have an obvious insidious intent towards the Elois and the Time Traveler. The Morlocks go from a curious, but disgusting creature to an intelligent, cannibalistic animal and make the readers fear the future and the consequences it presents. Dramatization doesn’t make the novel bad or even unrealistic, but gives more weight to the consequences.