Is it “really” over?

What an ending!

In these chapters, we really see the line between what is real, and what isn’t, really start to blur. Ricks interactions with the Andy’s leads to what could possibly be a psychotic episode, and eventually becoming unable to notice what is real and what isn’t. We also seeĀ  some very human actions from the Andy’s.

A very interesting interaction i found was after Rick finished with the Andy’s. He comes home to find his new goat has been killed by Rachael. After Rick finishes talking with Rachael after their night together, she says to him [1] that he he loves his goat more than his wife. To see a cold machine that normally doesn’t show these kind of emotions do something like this is very human. While this probably was done as payback for failing at her job to convert Rick, this is an action that would normally be seen in a jilted lover. Either way, it isn’t very robot-like.

While waiting for Deckard to come find them, we see how the Andy’s treat animals. In chapter 18, we see John find a spider and the mutilation of it by the remaining Andy trio.Ā  When John is confronted by Deckard, Rick tells him that “Androids do that.”[2] One of the major themes of this book is empathy. There are many arguments about how the androids show more empathy than humans, but in chapter 19, we really see how unlike us they really are. They are capable of blending in pretty well, but given the chance, you can see how vicious they can be.

Something else that i found interesting, and i had to go back and check it, is that we finally get a description of Ricks appearance. [3] When Isodore sees him in the irregular light, he describes him as a “medium man, not impressive; like a clerk in a bureaucratic office.” In the opening scene of the book, Iran refers to to rick as a murderer and to “get his crude cops hands away.”[4] Throughout reading the book, you can’t help of thinking of Rick as kind of a tough guy, like your typical action movie star. Instead he just sounds like a normal guy. It also shows how Rick isn’t your typical hero. He has emotional problems just like most people, something that oftentimes, authors choose to ignore when writing their protagonists.

Once Rick has retired all of the Andy’s, he heads home. He sees that his goat has been killed, and Rick gets in his vehicle andĀ  just drives. He ends up in the desert and there is a scene in which he begins to emulate Mercer. I had some problems understanding this scene as like many other novels by Phillip K. Dick, there is generally some altering of reality and the characters perception of reality. He comes back to reality and goes back to his car and opens a new tin of snuff. [5] When i read that word, i generally think of some sort of drug, and i wonder if maybe the reason he needed a new tin was due to him using it too often? Could this have been part of what lead to this episode? When he discovers the toad in the desert, it is sort of a reset for Rick. Throughout the book, we watch as he became more empathetic towards the “electric” and now we see him fall back into his old ways, thinking about the fame he would receive from the find. When he discovers that the toad is not real, i think he realizes that what he perceives as real and what isn’t, has vastly changed.

The book ends onĀ  an interesting note. The book opens with Iran, and it ends with her. Of all the characters, she probably shows the greatest change. As Rick sleeps, she sets in motion the plan to make the toad Ricks pet, ordering food and finding out what is needed for it to function properly. At this point it seems that they’ve switched roles since the opening scene, with Rick being a bit depressed, and her doing whatever she can do to make sure he recovers. It seems that all she needed to get out of her depression was some sort of purpose in life, and helping Rick to recover seems to be that purpose.

 

[1]Chapter 17, Pg. 202, 1st paragraph

[2]Chapter 19, Pg. 218, paragraph 6

[3]Chapter 19, Pg. 218, paragraph 7

[4]Chapter 1, Pg. 3, last paragraph

[5]Chapter 21, Pg 213, last paragraph

How do we deal with death?

As we move further into the book, the story really starts to pick up. We now see how some of the characters begin to deal with death. Rick is now on the trail of the escaped Andy’s and each interaction with them causes him to call into question his actions. The chickenhead Isodore deals with the loss of a cat during his pickup. And the possible Andy with false memories, Resch must deal with how he must deal with the new knowledge that his memories are fake, and what he must do now that he may be what he has always hunted. From these three instances, we see how a character from different walks of life, or even being different life forms deals with the idea of death.

In chapter seven, John Isodore goes to pick up what he feels is a defective electric cat. On the ride to the shop, he attempts to see what is wrong with the animal, and doesn’t realize that it is in fact a real cat. During the ride, he thinks about how much this affects him, even being an electric animal [1]. When he gets to the office, his boss Mr. Sloat makes fun of him for not realizing that it was fake, and forces him to deal with the distraught customer [2]. Of all the men in the office, only John seemed to care about the death.

Throughout chapters 8 and 9, we see Deckard go to work at hunting the Andy’s. He goes about it in a callous way. When he first meets Polokov, who is pretending to be the soviet policeman who Deckard is [3] supposed to meet, upon realizing that he is the android, he destroys it. Thinking back to the encounter as he calms down, he thinks about the money he just made, and that he has a faster reaction than Holden [4]. His mind is more worried about making the money to replace his electric sheep that the loss of “life” doesn’t seem to affect him. Later on in the book, Deckard struggles with his views on retiring Andy’s but that can be discussed at a later time.

After attempting to deal with Ms. Luft the opera singer/Andy, he is taken to an unknown Hall of Justice in Chapter 10. Here he meets a few more of the androids, including Resch, who, while his occupation is a bounty hunter, doesn’t know if he is an android due to Garlands misinformation. Garland tells Deckard that Resch has false memories, and doesn’t know that he is an Andy, but when told that he just might be, he insists that Deckard give him the test to see if he is. [5] As he talks to Deckard about it, “his voice, husky and tormented, broke off.” He asks Deckard if he doesn’t want him to take it. After taking the test, he finds out that he really is a human. This result has Deckard start to rethink what he previously thought about how humans empathize with each other. Its interesting to see that Resch was willing to be retired if he actually was an Andy.

Of the three John Isidore seems to be the one who deals with death with the most humanity. In his society, he is considered less than human, but he acts more human than any other character in the book. When dealing with death around him, he seems to handle it well. Deckard thinks only about the money, and Resch could almost not deal with the fact that he might not be human. Deckard’s interactions through these chapters with the rest of the characters slowly changes his views on the subject, and whether he can even retire them any more. Chapter 16 ends with Deckard heading to a hotel to meet up with Rachael to “talk” about dealing with the remaining Andy’s. We will only see what happens in the next exciting installment of reading.

 

 

[1] Chapter 7 pg. 72 last paragraph.

[2] Chapter 7 pg 79 first paragraph.

[3] Chapter 8 pg. 92

[4] Chapter 8 pg. 93

[5] Chapter 11 pg. 129

An electric identity

I reread Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep last weekend but for this post, i’ll be covering some ideas from the first 5 chapters. I think the thing that sticks out to me the most early on in the book is how bleak the future is in this book. This is a universe where most of the population has migrated to space and a persons emotional state can be set using a mood organ [1]. The dregs of society, or specials are stuck on Earth. A war (World War Terminus) occurred sometime in the past that devastated the planet, to the point that owning certain animals can be a status symbol in and of itself. The need for owning an animal is so strong that humans will even keep lifelike robotic animals in place of a live one. Rick Deckard is somewhat ashamed of owning his electric sheep, as shown by his conversation with his neighbor in chapter 1. The chapter concludes with him actually showing a bit of vindictiveness towards his neighbor [2] causing Barbour to act nervous. This tone helps to show how desperate Rick is to replace the fake sheep.

Rick is a bounty hunter who doesn’t hunt humans, but androids or “andy’s”. These robots flee to earth occasionally from the outer worlds. Rick uses the teachings of Mercerism to justify hunting and “retiring” these andy’s [3]. To Rick, the andy’s are no better than animals, and in recalling this fact his mind is drawn back to owning an animal. It is so important to him that he goes after five of the latest models, androids that were able to get the better of his superior Holden.

To retire an android, a test must be given that a trained professional, Rick, can then use to determine if the person being tested is human or an android. The Voigt-Kampff Altered Scale is the most recent process and has not been proven to be 100% accurate in detecting an android. Rick has to go to the manufacture of the Nexus-6’s to determine if it will work on an android. Here is another instance to emphasis how much Rick wants a real animal. He is willing to go out in the field with an unproven test. His boss forces him to do this check first, which had it not been an order, Rick would have probably skipped and the story would probably have ended with his death or in the best case, in a hospital bed like his superior Holden.

By following the teachings of Mercer, ones identity is shown by your right and ability to own an animal. Rick comes across as a man who is close to the breaking point. He does not really seem like a man who really believes in Mercerism, but he does follow some of the principles. Whenever he has free time, he pulls out his copy of Sidney’s Animal & Fowl catalog [4] to check prices. When he visits the Rosen Corporation and sees the advanced copy of the book, he confiscates it [5]. His jealousy/envy of the animals he saw on display led to this act, and it causes a moment of awkwardness among those in the room. After administering the test, he is offered a bribe consisting of an owl, and you can almost see the inner turmoil that must be going on in his head.

It seems that RIcks identity is incomplete without an animal. Its almost as if owning an animal is the only thing that will make him human. Perhaps by destroying the androids, not only is he earning his way towards a real animal, but they are acting like a surrogate for the removal of his electric sheep.

[1] Page 3.

[2] Page 14 2nd to last paragraph.

[3] Page 31 last paragraph.

[4] Pages 32-33

[5] Page 45-46

Just thought i’d share this, saw it linked a little while ago… Electric Sheep!

 

Response to The Machine Stops and Metropolis

For the first part of this assignment, i read the Machine Stops. It really was ahead of its time. I am not sure about what specific genre of science fiction it would be put under, but with the use of air ships, and mention of pistons and respirators, i can’t help but think of it as a Victorian Steampunk piece set in the future. I won’t go into great details on the plot as we’ve all read it, but its set in the future where mankind all live alone underground and a machine takes care of their needs. They’ve become so engrained to the help of the machine that they fear the sunlight, and humans are satisfied living in rooms that are basically cells. The way that people no longer interact with each other, and don’t do anything for themselves really touches on how society is becoming today. While boarding the train (pg. 7), a point is made to show that the man who drops his book is physically unable to simply reach down and pick it up. It really shows how bad they’ve become as people just trample “The Book” which is basically like a holy bible to them.

On page 8-9, when the attendant reaches out to steady Vashti, the outrage really emphasized the point that everyone is by themselves. The humans of this underground society worship the machine as if it’s their god, but will deny it at first. Her son is one of the free thinkers, so to, speak of society and wants to see whats out there. He travels to the surface and finds something pretty amazing. When i think of “The Machine”, i can’t help but think of the Matrix movies, and the drones/the white worm creature that is sent after him by the Mending Apparatus on pg. 17, remind me of the sentinels from the movie.

I think it is one of those works that really show how science fiction writing can predict the future. Many of today’s media seem to draw inspiration from it. When reading about the underground city, i immediately thought of the Morlocks from H.G. Wells’,Ā  The Time Machine. In the story, as time goes on, people become more and more withdrawn from each other, and excuses begin to be made as to why interacting with the world and each other is unnecessary. As the machine breaks down, as all machines do, people begin to lose themselves something that can be seen today. We as a society have come to rely greatly on technology. I always laugh when I’m on the train and see the cell phones fly out of peoples pockets as soon as there is service. The people from this story remind me of the humans from the Movie Wall-E. All in their own little bubble and unable to do anything for themselves.

I own Metropolis but have not viewed this extended version. Its been almost 10 years since i last watched it and i think the added soundtrack really fits well with the overall feel of the movie. It was very trippy at times, and had a minimal techno sound to it, particularly around the revolution scenes. Really added a whole extra layer of awesome to a fantastic movie. The movie shares many traits similar to The Machine Stops (TMS), in that they both works that take place in dystopian societies. The difference is that unlike TMS, mankind isn’t weak. Instead, the different classes are far separated with high society leading lives of play, while the lower class have basically become drones.You get a sense of how bad things can get when people are ignored and basic human rights are ignored.

The hero of the story, Freder meets Maria, who shows him that the world is not all that it appears to be. He sees the struggle of the lower class, and wants to help them. His father is against it, and has him followed. A machine man is created and replaces Maria to sow discord among the lower class which is on the verge of revolt. There are many religious undertones in the movie, such as the Whore of Babylon, and the Tower of Babel. There is mention of the seven deadly sins and death, and we see Freder’s decent into madness once Maria is replaced by a machine. The Machine Man/fake Maria is basically the Whore of Babylon, and leads an uprising against Freders father. It really emphasizes how the weak and poor are just pawns in a revenge scheme of a jaded lover. The creator of the Machine Man, Rotwang, hated Freder’s father, to the point that this revolution was set in motion.

One thing that i took away from both stories is that in times of trouble, most of humanity reverts back to a more chaotic nature, where their survival is all that matters. In both pieces, humanity loses it once the technology is damaged. In the end though, at our core, we need the warmth and help of others to survive. In TMS, you could she that Vashti really wanted to be near her son, but she like the rest of the society had become so ingrained with being alone. In Metropolis, when it starts flooding, people realize what really matters and try to save their kids, and in the End, Freder becomes the Heart, the thing that is needed to bring his father and the workers together, as told by Maria.

Its very interesting to see how many famous films, games, books, and other media seem to take inspiration from these works.

 

Introduction for Chris Robledo

Hi everyone!

My name is Christopher Robledo, but i prefer Chris. Something about being called Christopher brings back memories of my mother calling me when I’ve done something wrong. I am currently in my fourth year at City Tech, but will not be graduating until at least next January. I am actually back in school after 10 years of working as a carpenter. After High school i went straight into the workforce as i was never a school oriented person.Now that I’m older, i know what i want, and focus purely on that. I’ve been basically living on my savings, and doing side jobs here and there to make ends meet. I love to read, with science fiction and fantasy being my favorite genres. I’m currently making my way through the Disc World books, i can’t believe i put off reading these for so long. I love the satirical writing style of Terry Pratchett, and how the stories don’t take themselves seriously.

My favorite hobby is building scale models. I have done cars, tanks, and plane kits, but i mainly enjoy building robots like Gundam, Zoids, etc. I’ve gotten pretty good at it, to the point that i have won contests, and get commission work for my builds. I think my favorite thing at contests is to see the old war veterans who normally hate these kits and call them toys come over and compliment me on my work. This hobby is one of the reasons i got into the major that i am currently in, Computer Engineering Technology. The associate degree for this is Electromechanical Engineering Technology, which is all about building circuits and learning about the internal workings of a computer. I have always been into building things since i was a kid. While most kids had Lego’s, i always preferred playing with my Erector Set. I’ve even helped build props for some student films, often on a budget.

I mainly spent this winter break working on a few kits, and studying up on some online classes, as well as doing some construction side jobs. Another thing i love to do is dance. I know the basics to a few standard dances but i love deep house and used to be on the dance floor every weekend. I really messed up my back last year falling on ice so i can’t do it as much as i used to sadly. This summer i hope to take more dance classes, hopefully my back will be in much better condition.

Here is a picture of me last October at the New York Comicon with some friends who came in from out of state. We’re standing in front of the display case with the entries for the Gunpla Builders World Cup where i won the Best Small Scale category. We all fit some stereotype of the fandom.

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^^And my entry^^

When it comes to writing, i think i generally have a decent imagination and usually don’t have too much of a problem writing an assignment. I do tend to rush through, so my handwriting gets pretty illegible, and i can make some grammatical mistakes. One of the things i look forward to in this course and using OpenLab, is typing my work as i generally type much faster than i write, and i can flesh my ideas out faster/better.Ā  I think the thing i hate the most about actually writing is the mark that gets left on my middle finger. I tend to grip a pen or pencil (preferably) pretty tightly and i always end up with a red mark. If a topic doesn’t interest me, i do not look forward to writing about it, as its usually twice as hard to put ideas down on paper or the screen.

I have used OpenLab a few times, mainly for some of my classes relevant to my major. Professor Wu and Dr. Reyes always insisted on using it, so i would have to go to each courses site for homework and lecture downloads. I’ve only had to upload a laboratory report once. I’m sure by the end of this course, I’ll be somewhat proficient in using this interface.

When i think of Science fiction, i always remember watching movies as a child. I am an avid fan of most genres, but whenever a science fiction movie is on tv or in theaters, i tend to look forward to it more. For me, science fiction is a genre that takes an idea that is similar to fantasy and melds it with science. It can be about time travel, space and the unknown, virus outbreaks, or even something less radical that is closer to actual reality. I think anyone can write science fiction, but most famous writers have some sort of technical background or do extensive research into some field of science for it to make the most sense. Anyone can be a fan of science fiction. When i was growing up, it generally had a stigma about it where fans were looked down on by normal society. In recent years, being into science and things once considered only for nerds or geeks is the in thing, and its become much easier to let it be known that you are a fan. There are meetups you can actually go to to discuss your favorite shows or books every month in the city now as well.

When i hear the word science, i think of knowledge and logic. Its something i can believe in as most often its based on fact and can be proven. Fiction is anything that can be made up but isn’t based on fact. It can be a lie, or even something as simple as basing it on an event but with an added factor that makes it different than the reality of the situation or story. Science fiction is absolutely considered real literature. Its been around for a long time, and often ideas written in these stories become reality. How many of today’s technologies are inspired by science fiction of the past?

I think our class consists of only male students simply because there are much easier classes out there. Its a very unique subject, something that not everyone will enjoy. I hate to use a stereotype, but maybe some female students know that it is popular among males and don’t wish to be the only female students in the class. Even as i type this, i feel like it is sexist thinking, but stereotypes are generally based on some form of truth. Professor Belli’s main line of research is in utopian societies, something that often occurs within science fiction literature. She seems like a very confidant woman who loves the topic and enjoys sharing her ideas with whoever wants to hear them/learn which is why i believe she chose to teach this course.

As previously mentioned, i love scifi, so i really wanted to take this course. When i was working on my associates degree, i was told that i couldn’t take this yet as it wasn’t part of the curriculum for my degree, but when i switched to my Bachelors, it became available. I won’t lie, all this typing and reading is a bit more than i expected, and i know i’ll probably struggle a little further into the course, as every other class i’m taking involves large projects that will eat up my free time.

Some of my favorite science fiction authors would have to be Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams, Phillip K. Dick, Hideyuki Kekuchi, Daniel Wilson, James S.A. Corey, Earnest Cline.

Some of my favorite science fiction books: A scanner Darkly, The Dune series, Do androids dream of robotic sheep, Robotpocalypse, I Robot, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy books, 1984, Fahrenheit 451. Just a few. If you like to play video games and enjoy trivia from the 80’s and 90’s, check out a book called Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. It being made into a movie, but it really is a great read.

Some movies/tv: Dune, Star Wars, Aliens, the first 2 predator movies, inority Report, Enemy Mine, Robot Jox, Hackers, Serenity/Firefly, Almost Human, Battle Star Galactica, Star Gate, Total Recall, Dredd, and most Giant robot Anime. You name it, i’ve probably watched it. There are some shows that i just can’t get into, like Doctor Who. I’ve tried, and i really don’t understand why everyone likes it, its pretty lame compared to all of the other shows that are out there.

For this course, i’m hoping to learn a bit more about the background and themes of science fiction. Maybe improve my writing skills when it comes to using more technical jargon.

I went a bit long with this post, but figured its best to be thorough.

Class Notes for January 29, 2015

First Impressions:

The first thing we did was pull out 3 pieces of paper. On the first sheet of paper, we drew a picture of the first thing we think of when we hear the word science fiction.

On the next piece of paper, we wrote the first word that came to mind when we think of science fiction.

On the third piece of paper, we answered questions, using free writing, and writing whatever first pops into our minds, which are usually stereotypes or assumptions.

The questions were:

What is science fictions?

Who is science?

What is fiction?

Who writes science fiction?

Who reads science fiction?

Why is our class dominated by males?

Why is the professor female?

Why are we taking this subject? Because we like it? Did we have to take it?

Is science fiction actually “literature?”

Who are some of our favorite science fiction writers or favorite science fiction entertainment like movies, tv, etc?

After writing for 15 minutes answering these questions, we then got into groups of four. Our pictures were given to the person on our right, and the word we chose was given to the person on our left. We then introduced ourselves to each other, and then exchanged information. We then discussed what we each wrote for the questions and then drew pictures and wrote words/phrases on a poster sheet. We then took a five minute break.

When the break ended, we got into a lopsided circle, and went around the room introducing ourselves to everyone, and talking about what we put on the posters. To start off, Professor Belli gave us a little background on herself. She has her doctorate and focuses on utopian studies for her research. She is the Co-Chair of the OpenLab site. She has played violin since the age of two, and used to play ice hockey, and is Sicilian, so she is not one to be messed with. A few of us questioned as to why she chose this course, and her response was that she requested to teach this course as Utopian studies often play a role in science fiction.

After Professor Belli introduced herself, the first group gave their introductions. The first group consisted of Leonel, Aaron, Zack, and Louis. Leonel and Zack are both in the Entertainment technologies major. Aaron lives in Brooklyn and is in Communication Designs. Louis in in Facilities Management and is a project manager for Con Edison.

The next group was comprised of Carl, Peter, Renee, and Jonathan. Carl is in Advertising/Communications Design and has a love of science fiction that stems from first reading HP Lovecraft. Peter is a polish CommunicationsĀ  Major who enjoys things created by Tolkien, particularly the Hobbit. Renee is a Graphics Design Major who enjoys Game Design, and likes the color red. Jonathan is a Hospitality Major but unfortunately has broken his glasses recently and is having trouble seeing.

Andrew, Donavon, Jonathan, and Serge made up the next group. Andrew is a Communications/Design Major and took this class because he liked the description and enjoys scifi. Jonathan and Donavon are both in Entertainment technology. Jonathan wants to work in lighting/be a gaffer, and also took the class because he enjoys scifi. Donavon likes science fiction as well. He plays piano classically. Serge is a Chemistry Major, and loves science fiction, mainly scifi movies. He is a fan of metal, flamenco, and classical music.

In our group, Randy is a Computer Systems Technology major.Ā  Joel, Jose, and Chris are all in the Computer Engineering Technology Major. Joel loves scifi. Chris also loves scifi, particularly robots and the like. Jose is a Viola player but now plays the Guitar. Tahir is a Mechanical Engineering Technology major and is a coach/mentor for a robotics team.

The final gorup is made up of John, Eugene, Daniel, and Genesis. John is in the Architectural major and actually works in the field already. Eugene is a Computer Systems Technology major and is only taking this class because it is the only open class. He wants to get a hair cut, but doesn’t want to go to the barber. Daniel is in the Entertainment Technology Major. He enjoys making his own music and for a fun fact, his shoe size, is 11! Finally, Genesis, who is in Electrical Engineering, but is making a change to the Professional and Technical writing major. His favorite color is red.

After each saying what word we chose, the major theme seemed to be Space.

Once everyone went around the circle, the professor discussed the Syllabus.

Our booklist for the class will be posted online. We need to print out the short stories to be read in class.Ā  Most of our grade will be based on our interactions and work done using OpenLab. When writing our blog notes, we need to be critical and analytical in our writings. Professor Belli then showed us how to navigate OpenLab to the courses home page, and the tabs. In the final minutes of class, we discussed what was needed to be done for homework and what was required for the next class.

 

Apologies for any misspelling with the names.

 

Posters:

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