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Course Archive: Science Fiction

"HAL," by flickr user Erin Williamson

“HAL,” by flickr user Erin Williamson

This site contains student blog posts and teaching materials related to ENG 2420 — Science Fiction, a course taught at the New York City College of Technology in Spring 2014 by Prof. Matthew K. Gold. The course focused on the genre of science fiction in literature and film. During the semester, we explored Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Octavia Butler’s Dawn, Neill Blomkamp’s District 9, Chris Marker’s La Jet√©e, Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl In the Ring, and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can find out more about what we did by checking out the syllabus and reading through the archived blog.

The content of this site will remain available as a record of our class and a resource for others who might be interested in the topics covered. Please contact Prof. Gold if you have any questions about the course or the materials that appear on the site.

Journal Entry 8

2001

What I love the most about the film 2001 was its main theme which was represented by a massive monolithic alien object. The monolithic object was show three times throughout the film. ¬†Every time the monolith was show, an eventful human millstone in evolution took place. ¬†The first appearance of the monolith represented the change of ape to man representing human past. Second was man’s accomplishment of traveling to the moon. This represented present humans. ¬†Third was man’s ability to travel distant planet, or possibly even intergalactic travel. ¬†This represented human future. The monolith was found floating by Jupiter. The movie showed a great representation of human evolution. Using the strange monolithic object as a means of symbolizing human evolution made it even more interesting and mysterious.

Reading Journal #8

2001 was… interesting. I didn’t understand any of it. It seemed like two or maybe more plot lines tied together. I’ve always wanted to know where “Hal” came from, too, but I was somewhat disappointed that this was how the movie ended up. The movie left me confused completely, and i asked myself what did i just watch. The most enjoyable part for me was the end where the song came in an the giant baby floated next to Earth. I found it hilarious. In all, the movie was just a little too artistic. It was like trying to completely understand abstract art.

Journal Response #8 – Brown Girl In the Ring

In my least favorite novel among the novels we’ve read in class. A lot of confusion going on within the setting of Toronto and how the citizens are portrayed as poor, dislocated, cut off from the norm and treated as nothing but street trash. Similar to the Prawns in Districts 9,¬† the people of abandoned Toronto really have no hope that the city will return to it’s former glory and luxurious form. Also, from what I can get from this title, the brown girl, being Ti-Jeanne, is possible the only solution or promise that the city has where most of the organizations that run this damage city is run by most of her family members. Sounds strange but also a weird reading to get into.

Journal Response #6 – Dawn

A very interesting read from the beginning to the near end. But my journal response has to do with a conversation between Lilith and the alien that she is introduced to when she awakes again. After she leaves her room with the alien and is introduced to this new world away from here own world, the alien discusses that the world that see know is not there anymore & that the food and animals that were once present & edible will not be the same when they are ready to return. One of my many problems with the aliens are control & change. Because the aliens are not familiar with the human as mentioned in the text, they feel that if they change the humans by “experiments” that they are doing good to them when in fact they are doing harm to a race that is not yours and a race that are not know to do experiments towards each other.

Journal Response #5 – Blade Runner

Comparing this film to the novel is like comparing an apple to an orange. Though It has some familiar scenes and text from the novel & being able to see it in picture as opposed to reading it in detail is great, they are some parts that separated it from the novel. For one, the setting is dark & rainy with a crowded feeling as opposed to a more open spaced setting in the book. Another is the animals from the film are not shown to indicate status but are present to show value and rarity. In the novel, the animals represented your status and your place among others.¬†The last¬†problem that I had a¬†issue with¬†& had no impact was the voit kmap test, which was used twice in the film, didn’t show any valuable merit to indicate an android when in the novel when Rick used it showed throughout the novel how the test was used to show the personality of these androids.

Reading Journal #7

Brown Girl in the Ring was a very, very hard read for me. It starts of confusing with Ti-Jeane experiencing visions that blur reality and imagination. It was hard for me to tell what was real. The mythical creatures were hard to picture and their existance had no explanation until the middle of the book. The hardest part was the accents in the book. It was a heavy Caribbean accent that just looked like jumbled English. Its hard to read an accent I’m used to hearing. The story did pick up after the spirits were explained though.

Journal Response #4 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The one thing I’ve taken from this novel so far is how far one will go to improve one’s status. The main character of this novel, Rick, is constantly thinking about his electric sheep and how he wish for an exotic animal to show off to his neighbors. Even while on the job he manages to go off track to look at how much an ostrich cost. Status for the people of this novel is determined mostly by animals as the more or exotic the animal appeared, the more noticeable you are among others.

Another interesting topic is the voit kmap test that was issues by Rick. A test that measures empathy is a poor attempt to tell whop is human and who is an android. As I read the questions that was issued¬† for test, I’m think that this is how we control order in the world where if you answer the question in a way that sound almost robot-like you get sent away and I don’t even want to know what they do to the androids after that.

Reading Journal #6

District 9 was a really good movie. It held my attention from beginning to end, even though it doesn’t quite have the Hollywood quality seen in the theaters. The plot put a twist on the whole “predator becoming the prey” theme by having a human become an alien-human mixed breed experiment. We watched Wikus unfold as he lost everything he had as a human while being a fugitive. The only big question i had was how did the humans have so much control over the “prawns” if the prawns had such advanced technology that only worked with their DNA.

Reading Journal #5

Dawn was my favorite book of the semester. I liked the concept of aliens holding humans captive in complete control of there lives. Even the suspended animation idea i thought was interesting. The story didn’t start as slow as the other books we’ve read and the plot picked up fast. After reading Dawn i wanted to read the rest of the trilogy.