Science Fiction: The Truthful Harbinger of Things to Come
At the symposium, several speakers said some stuff that I either didn’t know before or never thought of it in the way they presented it. I found it easier and more interesting to understand the speakers’ thoughts when they made comparisons between science fiction and various kinds of texts.
For example, a woman made a point about creating a sustainable Earth. Her name was Marleen S. Barr, an author, editor, and a CUNY professor of English. Barr described Eleanor Cameron’s The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, a book that she had read as a child. In that book, mushrooms and other organic materials are used for construction of cities. Barr argued that if we fail to utilize biological resources, there will be dire consequences for all of the planet. She reminds the audience that organic matter matters.
Adam Heidebrink-Bruno, a graduate student from Lehigh University’s Literature and Social Justice program, discussed capitalism and perception of corporate America in Dave Eggers’ novel, The Circle. However, the way Bruno talked about it reminds me of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. He described how the protagonist of The Circle, Mae, is living in a world that’s beyond her control and feels awry. Similar to Offred, the main character in Atwood’s novel, Mae is in a society where public sentiment is manipulated and resistance is marginalized. Both characters live in dystopian worlds where according to Bruno, “if you control the flow of information, you have the power to control everything” (Bruno). He tied together the themes of modern work ethic and ideology. He also made a great point in saying that innocuous human actions are linked to the political economy.
Another speaker that caught my attention was Peter Spillane, a Chemistry professor at City Tech. He talked about whether or not robots truly have singularity, creativity, and a conscience. He made comparisons to movies like The Martian and Big Hero 6. Professor Spillane spoke of carbon nanotubes and how a painter, Harold Cohen’s AI, AARON, creates original images.
Sharon Packer, an author, psychiatrist, physician, editor, and Assistant Clinical Professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, talked about the fictional superhero, Luke Cage. Packer summarized how Cage became who he is through experimentation while in prison. She said that “by breaking out of jail, Cage symbolically breaks barriers” (Packer) for African Americans. Packer compared what happens in Luke Cage comics to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and the Attica Prison Riot. She said that the story of Luke Cage reflects existing controversies with prison studies. It “reopens dialogue between medical researcher and practitioners” (Packer).
The discussions during the symposium remind me that science fiction combines both facts and fiction. No matter how “crazy” certain concepts seem to be, sci-fi has more truth to it than certain individuals see it as. Science fiction goes to show that there are endless possibilities for how things unravel in what we want to consider as due time. However, sci-fi applies what I’ve known for a long time. The only things certain in life are the mysterious uncertainties that nobody is meant to figure out. Doing so will drive those, who dare to try, “crazy”. Doing so will upset the standards and the balance of the universe, throwing all that dwell within into disarray because it only takes at least one to affect the rest.
The Handmaid’s Tale TV Series
The famous novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood was recently recreated earlier this year by Bruce Miller as a Hulu TV original series. Many elements of the TV series differ from the book, Bruce Miller was able to extract the dramatic appeal that the novel originally had, he even went as far as enhancing this appeal in some episodes. The cast for Bruce Miller show were selected perfectly, as someone that has both read the book and watched the show I can assure you that the cast truly embodies the will of the characters. Interestingly enough the show took a different route for character development, the writers for the show decided to shine more light on smaller characters. For example both Ofglen and Serena Joy were smaller characters in the novel that helped exemplify the plot, but during the Hulu TV original series if felt like they had their own subplots.
The TV series had a mysterious vibe, and from episode to episode, the writers are able to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. The writers provided additional information to the characters and their background, this was obviously to elongate the show. It was satisfying that they provided additional information because there was a lot of questions left after reading the novel were answered in the tv series about Offred, which was played by Elisabeth Moss, and her Husband Luke played by O-T Fagbenle. The TV series allowed the viewer to see their life before gilead, the lifestyle they lived, how the couple met, and most importantly how Offred was captured into the city of Gilead. The viewer is also given comfort by knowing that her family is alive and are safe.
Luke managed to escape and currently lives in Canada, and Hanna, their daughter, was captured but is still able and is safe. I am assuming that she is being raised to one day become a handmaid, like her mother. We got to know that Nick played by Max Minghella was actually an eye, which seems to make a huge difference and a calmness about Offred’s escape. The audience may feel safe about where Offred is going, and about her future assuming that Nick may be able to protect her. We also get to know the Commander played by Joseph Fiennes, and Serena Joy, played by Yvonne Strzechowski, in dept. Serena Joy was actually one of the masterminds behind the creation of Gilead, which ironically seems bizarre, because she didn’t seem very happy. Overall the series is a must see, because of the intensity of its excitement, it draws the viewer in. After watching the entire series, I have become a supportive fan, and am anticipating the second season.
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- Homework #1: Watch the first two episodes of The Handmaid’s Tail Hulu series by Tuesday, Dec. 12th
- You must’ve already have read the novel.
- Be sure to take notes as you watch and if you want to mention a scene in class to discuss a scene, write the episode number as well as the minute/seconds of where the scene is at.
- Think of the adaptation. Don’t just make a list of differences. Describe how these differences change the narrative or how these new choices/changes effect the story and characters as a whole?
- (Optional) Extra Credit of this due Monday December 11th– You can write your notes and thoughts on the blog.
- Homework #2 due Tuesday December 12th– Make a “Two-Part title; Separated by a colon”
- EXAMPLE: ______;_______
- Essay #2 due Thursday Dec. 14th
- Extra Credit blog based on your experience of the City Tech Science Fiction Symposium due by Sunday Dec. 10th
- Vocabulary- Transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
- NOTE– Using a transition in almost every topic question is key yo answering those question
- You can look up more on transitions at: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions
- Using transitional words can help validate your argument. Such as “First, Second, However, Alternately…”
Jezebels- Starting at Section XII pg 199
- Gentlemen’s club where the Commander goes to
- Going here requires costumes/certain attires. An illegal fashion for a Handmaid to wear.
- The outfit Offred wears (pg 231) ; more exposing compared to her usual attire; skanty
- The commander, he’s excited to take Offred to Jezebel’s as if they were attending some kind of part. Though Offred feels exposed with this type of clothing, she get’s a hard time applying the make up due to the fact she hadn’t done it in so long. She feels like she’s in someone else’s skin, unable to recognize herself.
- Her emotions seemed all over the place, she’s confused yet feels preserved freedom.
- The atmosphere- speakeasy, illicit, and nostalgic. (a longing to the past that Offred can’t seem to let go) [Paragraph 4, pg 234]
- This chapter, while it teased freedom for Offred, it begins and ends with Offred being reminded of her ownership to the Commander.
Moira– reintroduced at 238
- Moira was the symbol of strength and freedom to Offred.
- But her description now, this is not the same Moira Offred had looked up to, she is now performing an identity that she hates. She’s wearing an odd articular of clothing and high heals, which is something Offred remembers
- Moira’s story is told second hand to the narrator and to us, the reader.
- Her strong character that we were lead to believe is now broken down to be frightened and weakened.
- The Narrator’s final comment of this “new” Moira, wanting to shape this ending into an ending that fits to her liking an ending that feels right to her. This returns to the narrators META story righting.
Dec. 5 Class Notes
- Essay 2 is due Thusday, Dec 14 before 2:30PM, worth 30% of grade. Upload on dropbox, paper copy not needed. Must have a satisfactory cover letter one page long that is a reflection on writing process, NOT SUMMARY. Papers with unsatisfactory cover letter will not be graded. TIP: Keep a log of what you are doing while writing the essay; will be easier to write the cover letter. See Assignment page for more info. If you want comments on the graded essay, email the professor. OPTIONAL: Email professor to schedule a meeting, bring two copies of a 4 page draft, must have an intro paragraph. Students attending a meeting will have essay grade bumped up a letter grade. First come, first served.
- Final Course Reflection, worth 10% of the grade. Due Tuesday December 19. Finish Essay 2 before working on this. Submit on dropbox. See Assignment page for more info.
- Extra Credit Opportunity: Scifi Symposium Blog Post. See Post for more info.
- No new HW for Thursday except reading the Assignments.
Topics of Discussion: Historical Notes; Ending of the story; The Salvaging (Ofglen and May Day); Commander/Offred Relationship, Offred/Nick Relationship; Serena Joy finds evidence of Commander’s adultery; Moira/Jezebel’s
Continued Discussion of Historical Notes:
Many of the academics attending the Symposium dismissed the value of the Handmaid’s Tale, questioning its authenticity. On Pg. 300, Professor Pieixoto says the talk is about determining the authenticity of the Handmaid’s Tale. The Professor is only interested in information about Gilead, does not care for the plight of the Handmaiden in the recordings. He wishes instead for historically substantial information from the Commander’s private computer to better describe the Gilead Empire.
Discussion of Ending:
Feelings on the ending: Cliffhanger; Resignation; Abrupt
Offred considers suicide, regrets how she didn’t act out a plan of escape or rebellion (Pg. 293). Apprehensive of Nick when he asks Offred to trust him, despite of saying “Mayday”, the codeword of the resistance. Offred decides to trust him, because that is all she has left. “But I snatch at it, this offer. It’s all I’m left with” (294).
Last paragraph is left to interpretation, Offred has no way of knowing if her capture is a good thing or a bad thing. “Whether this is my end or a new beginning I have no way of knowing: I have given myself over into the hands of strangers, because it can’t be helped. And so I step up, into the darkness within; or else the light” (295).
Discussion will continue on Thursday, take note of the scene(s) in Jezebel.
Nov. 30 Class Notes
Handmaids tale discussion sheet continued.
Class impressions on the handmaids tale :
- Bad for it’s unanswered questions yet great to some to leave imagination conclude the story
- U:nexpected/Jarring for its dehumanized content in the historical notes.
Symposium – Academic conference.
- Tues 12/19 is now the last day of class
- Watching the series is not required just work on Essay 2 and re-read historical notes.
- Bring back essay 1 on Tues 12/05
- Extra credit due on 12/06; SF symposium + blog.
Class Notes 11-28-17
Group discussion/handout on, The Handmaid’s tale and the historical notes
– discussed topics/themes/questions based on the novel for our upcoming essay.
**(If you have not finished the novel and read the historical notes, make sure to catch up on time for essay #2)**
-Continue reading the novel if you haven’t finished yet
-People’s post choice is due 11/29
-Finish group work handout at home if it was not completed in class, it will help you with essay #2!
Handmaid’s Tale Crash Course part 1
I stumbled upon a video on YouTube about the Handmaid’s Tale. It is pure coincidence and as soon as I watched it, I felt the need to share it with you. It doesn’t have too much information, just some background information about Margaret Atwood, some information about what the novel is about, and if I’m not mistaken the Youtuber said the book was based on certain real events, which he then showed. I thought it was fun to watch which is why I’m posting this so that you can enjoy it too. The following is the link, copy and paste it online, it will take you to the video, I hope you like it. https://youtu.be/PubyDwbNqYA
Class Discussion #11: People’s Choice Posts for ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ Parts XI-XV and “Historical Notes”
It’s here: our final People’s Choice vote, for our final novel …
Votes/rationales due by W 11/29. Make sure to name the author of the post you are choosing, as well as to link directly to the post.