Lagoon and Media

Considering that Okorafor’s novel, Lagoon, takes place in the twenty-first century, social media, as well as all types of media, are prevalent within the story. This story works in the media world because it uses media as a way to solidify the truth of what is going on with the aliens and Ayodele. There’s news outlets and phones and cameras taking pictures and videos. There’s no room for doubt on what is happening because with the click of a button Aydolele’s actions and shape shifting can be recorded and there is tangible proof. A lot of other science fiction novels that we have read before don’t have this type of relationship or presence of media, therefore there is room for speculation among the characters for the truth or realness of what is actually happening. In Lagoon, there is no question because media establishes its truthfulness. “Jacobs had a nice phone, so the footage was even clearer the it had been on Moziz’s cheap disposable one. Jacobs had watched it at least fifty times, and it still blew his mind. She was a young woman, then she seemed to turn inside herself to become a smoky, metallic-looking cloud, then she turned inside out again to become a completely different woman who was old and bent… ‘whaaaat?’ Rome whispered, bringing his face close to the high-definition images on Jacob’s mobile phone. ‘Play it again,” Seven said grinning,” (Okorafor 67). Here we have the scene of the passing around of the video that Philo took of Ayodele shape shifting. In this novel, media is not only used as proof of truth beyond imagination, but for sharing and accessing that proof. Philo started out taking the video, then passed it to her boyfriend Moziz, who showed it to Jacob, who showed it to his friends, and so on. Media is used as the cycle of information and exposure. By having this type of media in the novel Okorafor can use it as a way for all of her characters to pass the information of Ayodele’s existence and properties around. It is impossible for them to say that what they are seeing in this video is false, therefore they feel the need to spread this information and show it to more people.

Gibson and Neuromancer

Case is suicidal and numb after losing his gifted ability to hack after stealing from his employer, and is now a drug addict and a low-level hustler.  He gets pulled back into the world of hacking and given new organs to reject the drugs and keep him clean, by Molly and Armitage, who need his help in hacking into digital networks in cyber-space. The three get intermingled in a world of crime, violence, sex, suspicion, discovery, and hacking, until many people die, Armitage is found to be Corto, Molly leaves Case, and Case spends the rest of his days continuing to hack with his new girlfriend, buying his way back into his old drug addictions.

Gibson’s plot is orchestrated through the delivery of incredibly intricate details and imagery. He sets the stage for every scene that we are placed into. We are given the ability to see every character and scenery and it enhances the plot, for we are given an overload of information. There really is no leaving anything up to the imagination. Unlike other authors we’ve read, like Dick or Le Guin, we have found ourselves to have a better understanding of the world that Case is journeying through and the people he’s with, and what they are doing, because of the detailed description of the plot. I found myself asking less questions because, even if I did not understand a term or a part of this new world, the amount of information I was being given on the subject helped me to see how the plot was advancing and what was going on. Most of the time you are just given the name of something and not any explanation. Such as in The Left Hand of Darkness, there were so many new terms to go on in that novel between the cycles and the months and years, and the technology used, and a lot of the time there was no explanation. You followed the plot and hoped that it revealed what you needed to know. With Gibson, the details and explanations are woven into the plot. His intricate imagery allows us to see and know everything that is going on whether we are really sure of what it is or not. Yet, sometimes there are so many details you have to wonder whether or not they are that important to the advancement of the plot. Basically, Gibson’s whole style of writing relies on the overload of details, and his plot is made up of it, as well.

Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep

Though the context of the conversation between Luba Luft and Deckerd in the dressing room scene of the movie is vastly different from that of the book, the tone of the scene seemed to be similar. In both instances, Luba is incredibly skeptical of Deckerd and doesn’t really seem to want to be bothered with anything that he is saying to her. Though in the book Deckerd comes right out in the open about his intentions with the Voigt-Kampff test and believing she is an android, Deckerd in the movie assumes an alias in order to get her alone. Though in the book Luba calls the police on Deckerd, not believing his word at being a member of the San Fransisco Police department, and Luba in the move attacks him and runs away, both versions of the scene involve her being completely untrusting of Deckerd and his intentions towards her.

Gender and Leguin

In Leguin’s essay “Is Gender Necessary?” Leguin is commenting on her creation of a whole new sexual physiology where gender isn’t constricted, but fluid. Leguin is trying to emphasize the characteristics that are left once you take away people’s genders. She created a world with no sex roles to see what this kind of life would be like, and how these people would be, themselves, and with one another. A passage from the novel that signifies Leguin’s point of a world without gender comes out most for me in Chapter 3, when Ai is trying to explain his plans to the King.

“‘They’re all like that–like you?’ This was the hurdle I could not lower for them. They must, in the end, learn to take it in their stride. ‘Yes. Gethenian sexual physiology, so far as we yet know, is unique among human beings.’ ‘So all of them, out on these other planets, are in permanent kemmer? A society of perverts?'” (Leguin, 21).

This to me stood out the most in relation to Leguin’s comments on gender and The Left Hand of Darkness, because in this scene, she is using the King to suggest to us, that the kind of gender role society and sexual physiology that we are so accustomed to, is the perverted one. A society that is so constructed by gender is constricted, repressed, and as the King puts it, perverted. Through the direct statements of the king and the exploration of a new way to approach gender and sexuality through the cycles of kemmer, Leguin is showing us, not what a new society could be like, because the alteration of genealogy would be too much, as she says in her essay, but shows us what sexual fluidity can be like. When there are no distinct roles, when a person can be a man or a woman, a mother or a father, both or neither, or maybe just a parent, maybe just a lover, there is a chance that society can see this and have something to gain from it. Denouncing gender and making sexuality completely fluid, can lead to a more content and well organized society, where as she says in her essay, “There might be a king and parliament, but authority was not enforced by might as by the use of… intrigue, and was accepted as custom…ritual and parade were far more effective agents of order than armies or police… nobody owned anybody,” (Leguin, 165). She goes on to say that she is looking for a balanced society, and by creating this new world and this new physiology she can see a solution, where order and effectiveness can be achieved by bleeding the roles of gender into one, and not categorizing a society by labels, such as female, male, mother, and father. A society where one person is everything and never lacking can be a true society.

The Idea of Having to Explain

“Perhaps you do not know even about such elementary things as the Table of Hours, the Personal Hour, the Maternity Norm, the Green Wall, and the Benefactor.  It seems to me ridiculous yet very difficult to speak about all this. It is as if a writer of, say, the twentieth century had to explain in his novel the meaning of “coat,” or “apartment,” or “wife.” Yet, if his novel were to be translated for savages, how could he avoid explaining what a “coat” meant… and so it is with me: I cannot imagine a life that is not clad in a Green Wall; I cannot imagine a life that is not regulated by the figures of our Table,” (10-11, Zamyatin).

Starting this book, you are immediately thrown into the daily accounts of the narrator and this new world of human order that he lives in. He speaks of things like the Green Wall and the Table and he refers to people as numbers and to our generation as ancients, without any explanation at all. We are just dropped smack into this world. But, at the start of his third entry, which to me was one of the most interesting, he acknowledges that he has not explained any of the terminology in which he uses, just expecting anyone who reads his entries to already understand what he is saying and what it all means. What stuck out to me the most about this revelation was how he admitted that he was wrong to do this, and then continued to explain why he did by putting it in our generation’s lay-person terms. He uses ordinary every day items and concepts, such as wife, coat, and apartment, things that are universal to all peoples and cultures of our time, to get us to understand the universality of the terms in which he is using. These are objects or concepts that we would never have to explain to another person, such as he has never had to explain his to another person. There is just a collective knowing. But, going over his previous entries he reflects on this notion and realizes that the audience that he is addressing might not know what he is talking about, and they might be incredibly lost delving into the world in which he is so used to. As he says at the end of the above quoted passage, he has never known a world without these things, so to think of a world that doesn’t have them is not a first thought, therefore, he never felt the need to explain in detail, the concepts of his world. To me, this part was so interesting because he is being so vulnerable and honest about this mistake and trying to relate to whoever might be reading, by explaining that this is the only world he’s ever known. For us, we know our world inside and out and would never think of explaining what elections or college or marriage is to someone. Everyone knows what those terms are. He is helping us get into the mindset of someone who is speaking to peoples completely outside of his world and what that must feel/be like, and helping us have a better grounding in this world and in how he thinks.

Novel vs. National Observer

Upon the start of my reading of the National Observer’s “The Time Machine” I already begin to see differences to the novel. For instance, the character that we know of as “The Time Traveller” is referred to as “The Philosophical Inventor” (446, Wells), which, to me, seems like a mouthful, and a tad bit pretentious. Going forward, even just on the first page, the language is vastly different in this version than in its novel counterpart. Just in the first line he explains the conversation between the profession labeled gentlemen and the Time Traveller, or in this case, the Philosophical Inventor as, “expounding a recondite matter…” (446, Wells). This phrasing here seems to be weightier, fancier, and more intrinsically detailed language than to that of the novel. The language of the novel, to me, seems to be more simplistic, yet gives off an air of intelligence without stepping into the territory of pretension. To further prove my point, only a few lines down the page he describes the chairs which they sit upon in such a way that you would think it was an integral part of the story, rather than just a detail: “Our chairs, being his patents, embraced and caressed us, rather than submitted to be sat upon,” (446, Wells). In my opinion, the story relayed to us of the Time Traveller sounded more like a truthful tale, despite its more dramatic nature, in the novel, than in this magazine. Reading the National Observer version, I find myself incredibly aware of the fact that I am reading a piece of art, a made up tale, because of its beautiful literary language. However, the novel gives you a sense of believability by addressing you with language that is less artistic and wordy, and more of a cut and dry scientific account. The way the novel regales the tale of the Time Traveller’s journey, to me, is given to us better in the form of language displayed in the novel. In my opinion, that version of language gave me a better interest and feel for the story of the Time Traveller and his journey than the magazine version.