Monthly Archives: May 2014

Journal Response #2 – Caves of Steel 2

Trying to understand this relationship between Elijah and Daneel is like to solve a rubrics cube; you seem to find a pattern and on the verge to solve it but that one piece at the end tricks you and you have to do the whole thing again. That’s how I see this relationship as Elijah early in the novel is introduced to Daneel because of an investigation that occurred in Space town. Elijah, who already has a hatred for robots, didn’t realized at first that he was a robot because he looked almost human-like. As we see Elijah get exposed to situations where robots are endangered the more he feels sympathy for them and try’s to learn more from Daneel. But, when they were in space town, Elijah came up with Daneel that killed Dr. Sarton. After trying to know him and understand the mind of a robot, Elijah takes a step back & targets his partner for the crime. Its a complicated relationship and I look forward to read more about it.

Journal Response #1 – Caves of Steel 1

In a few ways, the world according to Caves of Steel differ from the world we live in today. For instances, men go to work and are responsible for the money and women and their daughters stay home to cook and clean. Second, citizens are listed according to class and rank are not entitled to certain benefits that someone above them has until they meet that rank. Another is the Earth’s inability to cope with the overpopulation they have and finding a solution to lower that number or support the citizens living in it. Lastly, with I consider the biggest among the differences is how the “Earthman” treat robots/machines because they fear their place in life and work will be replaced by them one day. Oddly enough, the last point is exactly happening now but instead of just outright pushing them out of the workplace, we are being trained how to use and monitor these machines and it has allowed for us to live an easier, more productive life.

Reading Journal #7

Switching to Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson changed the subject of aliens vs. humans, and moved us into a Caribbean culture setting in Metropolitan Toronto after an economic collapse. Riots made the city fall into poverty, and violence. Gangs now control the streets and there is no place safe anymore. Black magic and feminism are two main themes in this story, where Ti-Jeanne is a black girl who controlled her own fate. I really enjoyed reading this story for a change in sci-fi, because comparing them to the other stories I’ve read so far, this one is the farthest from sci-fi, as technology or machine wise, and close to fantasy. This story has some very interesting twists, such as discovering that Rudy Sheldon (the leader if the gangs and the criminal mastermind) is actually Gros-Jeanne ex-husband, and that Tony (Ti-Jeanne’s baby father and lover) is a member of this gang. A beautiful story that captured me, and made me want to search for more of Nalo Hopkinson’s novels to read and enjoy. One thing that I noticed in the book, is that this book was shortlisted for Philip K. Dick (writer of Do androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) award.

Reading Journal #6 (District 9)

Watching a sci-fi movie such as District 9, will definitely feed the need of viewers to see and aliens vs. humans conflict. But in this movies’ case, it’s was different. Instead of the classic aliens domination and power over human’s weakness and fear of the unknown, we witnessed an era where humans dominate aliens who accidently crashed on earth! And we also see how humans were treating those aliens the way humans actually treated aliens (people from outside a certain country). Aliens were treated like foreigners, look like cockroaches, and eat cat food. That is not the way we used to see these – powerful and technologically advanced – creatures. This was a little strange yet exciting approach to a sci-fi movie, and I really want to see more of these movies but in a different way.

Reading Journal #5

Octavia Butler’s Dawn is one of the best sci-fi books I’ve read so far. The story was very original (at least to me), it presents a girl named Lilith, who was chosen by a dominating alien race (the Oankali), in order to create a new breed which will save both species (humans and aliens). A passage interested me while I was reading, when Octavia wrote, “She spent hours vainly trying to solve the problem of how she might destroy them. This was one of the activities that helped keep her relatively sane. Another was trying to reach the ceiling”. In this passage, Octavia showed, in a hidden way, the nature of human being, which is refusing capture and being free. Plus she showed how strong human brain could resist torture and prison, and through the power of will, humans survived and remain concentrated on their goal. After all, it’s all about the brain in sci-fi movies or books, where the writer or director will try to play with readers brain, and lead them into the worlds they create.

Journal # 7

It’s funny how fast the “hunter” can become the “hunted”.  In the film, District 9, the main character of Winkus is a prime example of this type of character transformation.  The film starts out as Winkus receives a new job promotion.  Winkus now appears to be the man in charge.   As Winkus and his team storm District 9, looking for aliens; his character is depicted as overly enthusiastic, senseless, and above all a firm hated for the alien creatures.  The alien creatures are stuck on Earth and are living in their own filth.  In this story, the aliens are depicted as poor, pathetic creatures that are stuck in a bad situation that they can’t change.  The first half of the film is very important because it sets the tone of power “surrounding” Winkus.  This is before Winkus knows the true motives of his government and what they are really doing to the Prawns.  The second half of the film inverses the first half as the table has now turned for Winkus in the light of the revelation of his new hand.  He has now become the “hunted”.  People treat him much differently now.  He is no longer the man in charge.  Winkus is a castaway and is on the run.  To everyone chasing Winkus, he is the ultimate weapon.  With his newfound abilities, he is a man that has the ability to control the alien weaponry; a man that the government hopes to control.  The government uses and most of all abuses Winkus to the point where they don’t even look at him as human anymore.  Even Winkus’ father-in-law, someone who is close to, turns his back on him and allows the scientists to experiment on Winkus against his will. 

Class Notes – 5/8/14

La Jetee – 1962

still images — difficult to pay attention

images so beautiful — nice to have time to look at them

very good storytelling – close eyes, examine

even though it lacks current standards —
time/imagination — viewer tries to connect what the narrator is saying to the photos

photos made it more believable

storytelling — voice droned — detached voice

stillness, not happening in the moment

photogaphs crystalize one moment — capture, make static, doesn’t change
why do we take photographs — to remember, memory
film — 28 fps
one photo vs. ten seconds of film

narrator’s voice provides interstitial frames?

back to past, to the future

photography — has the potential to fix time

fixing time

human power to control time


Nalo Hopkinson, _Brown Girl in the Ring_

Future earth?
core of city –
abandoned city — resources that a city should have = gone

is this a future earth?

retro dystopian
almost an 80s vision of the future
Mad Max
Escape from New York
The Warriors

— how do these stories imagine the city? in ruins, disorder, chaos, violence, decay

low end of the city

tales of crime taking over the city

exaggerates worst parts of cities in the 70s, 80s

police state

dropping a breast-feeding mother into the middle of that — gender

mix of sci-fi genre elements + folktales + voodoo

language, race, culture, futurity

in what ways does sci fi tell stories about the present through the figure of the future?

race / culture doesn’t disappear in the future! isn’t a magical erasure of race/culture/tradition in the future as we see in so many standard sci-fi tales.

as a corrective the ways in which the future has traditionally been imagined

code-switching —

diaspora – spreading of a group of people

source of power in this novel — very different from traditional sci-fi

in traditional sci-fi
prizing of technology, mechanization, automation, rationality

vs. Brown Girl in the Ring
religious, witchcraft, demons, folktales, spirituality,


class and science fiction
caves of steel – spacers, human — limited room, etc., shorter lives — promotion, hierarchy — C7

detective — middle class, move through upper/lower echelons of society

why do we read/like sci-fi?

take one element of present — mess w/it, play w/it

let’s us go to different place, from comfortable place

shows incredible potential technology we haven’t invented yet, then shows you how it will kill you

sci-fi vs. science — makes scientific advances seem natural — more focused on what happens w/technology

we feel powerless and limited by bodily, technological, temporal aspects of our lives; sci-fi gives us fantasy of world where we have control over such things

— yet also disrupts those fantasies — not utopian


This paper will examine the ways that Dawn and Brown Girl In the Ring treat the theme of violence. I will argue that the violence in Dawn, though biological rather than physical, does greater damage to characters in the text than the violence we see in BGITR.

journal #5

Dawn  by Octavia E. Butler is a story about the Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and a group of unconscious survivors have been taken by the alien that they are named  Oankalis to the mother ship and placed in “sleeping” pods for some 250 years. One of the humans, Lilith Iyapo, is awakened after 250 years and slowly trained by the Oankali not to be afraid of their horrifying to humans appearance. She comes to an uneasy truce and trust in the Oankali’s explanation of where she is and her role. In this story Lilith lyapo have been thought many obstacles, believing and trust.  How the story goes is very interesting to me that Humanity was saved from the war it waged on itself by an alien species. The alien thinks that letting humans alone is the same as allowing death. I think the theme love is all around not only exceeding in earth but in other planets/species.

Journal 7

Response : If Christopher Johnson returns, he will return with all his prawn beings and take over the earth. The prawns enslave humans and require them to make cat food or die. Christopher Johnson reunites with Wikus only to remember that Wikus knocked him out, concluding with his decision to make Wikus’s wife and the rest of his family as  prawns. Wikus agrees because there’s nothing else left of his human civilization. Wikus becomes more like prawns mentally and realizes that the human race deserves to be enslaved for all the wrong they have committed. My whole passage reminded me of a quote from Dawn that destroying what’s left of the human civilization wouldn’t make it better but different and different is what humanity needed to live prosperous without any evil need for power and this human/pawn civilization lived forever. Pawns turned humans into pawns when ever they felt they were worthy enough.

Dawn Quote of Jdahya and Lilith in chapter 5, Part 1 Womb.

“And you think destroying what was left of our cultures will make us better?”

“No. Only different.”

Journal 1-6

Journal 1.

It’s interesting how R.Sammy is just a Robert who doesn’t know what to do unless it’s told so. Also there’s a superior race call the “The Spacers”.

Journal 2.

We learn that the detective partners up with R.Daneel who is a Robot that looks like a human. So much that the detective couldn’t tell he’s an android.

Journal 3.

We learn that “The Spacers” are fragile creatures and that our germs can harm the Spacers. Also we learn that the commissioner is the one committed the crime R.Daneel and the detective had to solve, because of this they are now good friends.

Journal 4.

In this novel, the author takes imagination of machines design to an almost unreal outlook. When Rick basically tricks Racheal to come over, and she in turn brought over some very expensive whiskey, obviously to try and deter Rick from killing the remaining androids. They even had sex and when Racheal learned that Rick is still going to kill the remaining androids she kill his goat in retaliation.

Journal 5.

In the novel Dawn by Octavia Butler, when I first started reading the novel it seems to me that the aliens live for a very long time, I also learn us humans practically destroy planet earth, and we now live in an alien spaceship.

Journal 6.

As I continue to read the novel I notice that Lilith, has now accepted her faith and feels like she’s a prisoner of the aliens. Lilith also learn that she has to change her DNA to be able to access different parts of the ship.