Posts Tagged ‘SF’

SF Study Session

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Hello everyone! I just wanted to send out a quick note to see if anyone would be interested in attending a special SF study session in the library tomorrow night at either 6 or 7. If you are interested please contact me, Ashley A. Gaston, at my umw e-mail, Also send which time would be best suited for your schedule. We will most likely go with the time that works the best for the most people. I will make sure to send out the finalized time to everyone who expresses interest. GOOD LUCK on finals!

Journal 9: Fans

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

The science fiction genre has always had a large fan base and is one of the highest grossing genres spanning television, film, music, art, literature, and even the video game world. But what is it about this genre that people find to be so irresistible? I would venture to say that it is the hope for possibility that makes this genre so popular. From space exploration, to first contact, to world domination, to romantic vampires, to intelligent life other than the human race, we find science fiction to be interesting to us because it challenges our minds to believe in something greater than us.  We all have our favorites, whether we choose to admit to them or not. But those of us who are true fans are proud to share our favorites with others and often find and confort in unity in our passion for these stories and characters/creatures. I find the unity in a fan base to be quite an interesting concept. If you think about it, there are often many different reasons why followers are passionate about any specific work. Though their own perceptions may not match those of the others around them, when they find others who are also passionate about the same work, even if for different reasons, they instantly form a bond. The stronger and broader the fan base, the more support they bring to their passion. In turn the more passionate fans a specific work has the better it does economically and the more they can produce from that work. Fans either unknowingly or knowingly help to perpetuate a cycle that in turn gives them more of what they want. The concept of the fan base can also be manipulated too.

We all have heard of those die-hard fans who riot and cause an uproar when something does not go according to plan, or even they way they expected for them to go. In fact, there are many television shows that have either been canceled or rebooted due to the fanbase’s response to certain choices. In many ways the fate of the entire cast including the writers and producers all rests in the fan’s hands. On the other hand, fans must be considered when producing a work. If the creator does not create with the fans in mind the work will inevitable suffer. As a fan myself it is interest to consider just how much power we actually do have. Though I may not be a die hard fan like so many others, I have always been a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Now that you know how much power you actually have, I encourage you to use it wisely.

Its been a great semester and I have thoroughly enjoyed taking this course with each of you.


Ashley A. Gaston

Self-proclaimed President of The Dune Forever: Save the Sand Worms Official Club

Extra Credit: The Hunger Games

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

The Hunger Games is a captivating book series written by hit author Suzanne Collins. This spellbinding series has won Collins acclaim, not only in her very large and growing fan base but also, in the science fiction community as a whole. This intense series is base on an interesting plot line filled with suspense and lots of brutal violence. In the first book of the popular trilogy, a dystopian society, made up of twelve districts must hold to tradition and partake in the annual “Hunger Games.” The rules state that one male and one female child, ranging from ages 12-18, must be selected from each area to represent their district in brutal fight to the death. Only one survivor will come out of the battle royal alive and he/she earns a large supply of food for their district. The story begins with the introduction of the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, and continues as she progresses through the dangerous challenge to come out on top. Though I do not wish to spoil too much of this truly mesmerizing story I will tell you that in the end there are two tributes come out alive, leaving the story open and ready for the next film in the series.

Unlike many of my fellow Hunger Games moviegoers, I went to the film without preciously reading any of the books. Other than a bit of background information provided to me by my good friend and intense Hunger Games fan, Tiffany, I had no prior knowledge of the book or what the storyline entailed. I feel that going into the film blindly allowed me to really focus on the plot and how the film portrayed the characters. Having said this, I must admit that the film was actually pretty good. The special effects were on point and I found the plot to be quite interesting.

Though the overall movie was quite interesting, I must note that it was very violent. Characters die by spears, have their necks broken, or even burned alive, though, thanks to good editing, the most gruesome shots do not last very long. Despite the high body count, The Hunger Games makes a great critique of reality TV, totalitarian government, and even screen violence as a sign of entertainment. However, I would say that the part that I found to be the most interesting was the entire concept of the Carnival-esque Society. The film really brought this element to life through the depiction of Effie and her whimsical, hot-pink style choices. Also the main city, Capitol, where the actual games takes place, is portrayed as a harlequinade society. This is apparent in the fashion choices of its residence and even the modern carnival inspired architecture, which incorporates lots of sharp points and sleek edges.

Over all, I would say that I really enjoyed the movie and the fact that it is still on top at the box office certainly shows that it is a great movie. I would recommend that those who read the books definitely go see it but also that anyone who enjoys science fiction as well. I do feel, however, that this film is not intended for young eyes, the violence and blood is too much for little minds to comprehend. However, those who do see the movie and are of sufficient age will certainly enjoy it. I know that I did and I have even made a plan to read the books over the summer.

Journal 7: Memories Beyond Mirrors

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Journal 7 Prompt:

I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination.

Journal Response:

I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught as a child on my homeworld that Truth is a matter of the imagination. For in imagination you are safe to believe what you wish with out contest, and so I begin my tale of my adventures on the other side of the glass. In order for you to remotely try to comprehend these writings you must first hear it all from the very beginning. I feel that I must warn you, what I am about to tell you, though it may sound absurd at times is completely and utterly true.

My story begins just like any other. It was simply another tireless day in a week of monotony. I woke up then got dressed and ready for work, just as I always do. I grabbed a mug filled to the rim of coffee on my way out of the door. However, today, I failed to put the lid on my Starbucks Travel Coffee mug securely because as I took three steps out of the door and tilted the cup up to my lips to take the first sip of the robust french vanilla roast, the lid came completely off and spilled all over me and my lavender colored skirt. I rushed back inside my small but quaint single family home to change clothes. After all, I was the top curator at the Ridderman Gallery of Global Art; I could not show up to work drenched in coffee. I threw on the silky magenta wrap dress that was lying across the bench located at the foot of my bad. I had debated on wearing this morning and decided against it, tossing it carelessly on the bench. I tied the dress as I ran down the stairs and back out of the door, leaving the defective mug on my front porch and a mess to clean up later. I really shouldn’t have slept in today. It was Thursday and I had to be there when the truck delivered the new pieces for our newest exhibit, “Empyreal Treasures.” The broachers that the museum had distributed looked amazing and I was really excited to see all the new pieces. However, there was one in particular that I was the most excited to see, Emperor Xi Fu’s Golden Mirror of the Xiouo Dynasty. It was legend to hold the soul of anyone who peered into it.

When I arrived at work Mel met me at the information desk in the lobby.

“Not bad, Dee. Your only ten minutes late,” he said with a sarcastic gleam in his eyes.

I said nothing to him. I was not going to reward his sarcasm with any sort of acknowledgement. He caught onto my mood right away and began to walk with me towards the Empyreal Treasures exhibit space.

“Is it complete, or are they still setting it up?” I asked him as he followed behind my fast professional pace.

“Oh it’s all set up.” He paused briefly then began to speak again, in a more somber tone this time. “Hey, you know I didn’t mean to upset you.”

I stopped abruptly and turn to look at him “Oh sorry, Mel. I just had a late start and a bit of a setback that contributed to my tardiness this morning. I am fine and so are you.”

He smiled cheerfully and we continued to walk side by side towards the exhibit. When we reached the door, he opened it for me and we both walked in. The exhibit was amazing and the designers who coordinated the space really did a great job of incorporating all of the historical elements along with embellishing the space in pure opulence. The entire exhibit was even better than the writers made it out to be in the broacher. As we walked through the entire exhibit I made sure to stop at every piece and really examine what I was seeing. I had read and studied about these pieces for the past eight months and now I was finally able to see them all in front of me. As we neared the end of the exhibit, I realized that something was not right, the exhibit was incomplete.

I turned to Mel, “Wait a piece is missing.”

“You never miss a beat do you? Yeah there is a piece that will be coming tonight. They said it was too delicate to be brought with the others, it’s that golden mirror.”

“I knew it,” I said in an almost inaudible voice.

“So are you ever gonna tell me how you do that?”

“Do what?”

“How did you know that something was missing? I mean there is over 500 individual pieces in that exhibit. How did you recognize one was missing?’

“I have been doing this for a very long time, plus, I actually read and studied all the material we were given about the pieces,” I said as I flicked my eyes to his face dubiously.

“I read and studied just as much as you did, but I still wouldn’t have known that one of the pieces was missing. I mean, you know, if I wasn’t here when they told me.”

The day passed, surprisingly slowly and seemed never to end. Mel had packed up his belongings and went home hours ago. Of course, I had to stay and be here when they delivered and set up the final piece to the exhibit. I began to wonder what time they were going to make it. It was already a little after 8:00pm. I contemplated calling them to check but no sooner than I located the number, the security guards came up to inform me that the piece was being installed. I rushed out of the lounge to the stairs and ran straight to the exhibit. I really must have been excited because shortly after I got to the space, the security guard that had come to get me was panting and sprinting up behind me.

Once it was installed I stood back to examine it, as I had done with the others earlier that day. As I examined the massive mirror the guards escorted the installation crew out. It was beautiful and very ornately embellished with four interlocking golden dragons along the rim of the mirror. The glass of the mirror was not actually glass but instead a large brilliantly cut crystal. I stared at the piece in awe. It was so much more than what I had read about. I could see why I was so drawn to it. As I stared blankly at the piece, I began to focus my eyes on my reflection. I looked so tired. I turned my head right then left then right again, peering into my reflections glazed looking eyes. However, I noticed that when I turned my head a fourth time, my reflection was still. I stopped moving and looked into the crystal surface with unbelief. I must have been more tired than I thought. I turned my head slowly to the left. When my reflection followed suite, I felt silly for thinking otherwise. I reached out to touch the crystal just to be sure. When nothing happened I decided that I had enough excitement for one day and that I should probably head home. As I walked away from the mirror, I couldn’t help but feel uneasiness.

When I made it home, I was exhausted and irritated when I found the mess from this morning waiting for me right at my front door. I stepped over it and headed straight for the kitchen. I placed a large black binder of information on the exhibit that I had taken from work on the cold granite counter and began to cook dinner. I was so tired that I was on autopilot the rest of the night. In a daze I ate dinner, cleaned up the mess, took a shower, and got ready for bed. I must have been exhausted because I kept bumping into thing. As I stood clumsily at the bathroom sink in my warm wool pajamas, I brushed my teeth with slowly sleepy strokes. I looked at my tired expression in the mirror. When I leaned down to spit into the sink, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that startled me. I whipped my head back up to investigate. Nothing seemed to be off. I chalked it all up to stress and pure exhaustion and thought nothing more of it. I walked out of the bathroom and into my luxurious neutral toned bedroom. I quickly climbed into bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow I was asleep. When I woke to the annoying sound of the alarm clock early on Friday morning, I sleepily reached for the clock on the nightstand to the right of the bed. I was startled when my hand fell through the imaginary nightstand and popped my eyes open. There was no nightstand on that side. My eyes darted around the room only to find that the nightstand and alarm clock were on the other side of the bed. The sound from the alarm was getting louder and as I went to turn it off I noticed the strangest thing. The time on clock read “00:6.” What? I didn’t get, this was a new alarm clock I had just bought it only a few weeks ago. I pressed a button that I thought was the alarm button but when it did not turn off the alarm I was confused and looked at the buttons closely. I had not pressed the correct button but that was the lesser of my problems. The entire alarm clock seemed backwards, even the words. I pressed the “mrala” button and examined the room again. I was startled to see that everything was backwards, not only my alarm clock but my entire house was backwards. I ran to the bathroom sink and splashed some cold water on my face. When I straitened my stance and looked into the mirror at my reflection everything seemed to be normal again. I turned my body and looked back through the door to the bathroom into my room, everything was still backwards. I turned my body back to face the mirror and looked at my reflection with confusion. My reflection looked back at me and ever so slowly the edges of my reflections mouth turned upward into a menacing smirk.

Journal #6: Female Favoritism in Octavia Butler’s Work

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

In our rapidly changing society there has always been a few issue that we have remained problematic for our culture as a group, and one of those issues is gender equality and the issues associated with it as a whole. Like many other genres of literature Science Fiction is no different in that it still deals with the issue of gender and sexuality. A writers own personal conceptions and biases can often shadow their work and Octavia Butler is a perfect example of this.

I am currently in Dr. Tweedy’s Octavia Butler Senior Seminar and, besides being an excellent pairing with this course, it has also afforded me the opportunity to become completely immersed in Butler and her interesting creative mind.

Recently we read one of  her three books that have been compiled into the Lilith’s Brood series called Dawn. In this novel, select members of the human race have been harvested and stored to be taken back to and woken at a much later time. A select human, Lilith is chosen to be the first of the humans to be woken by her alien captures, the Oankali. Lilith must me taught not to fear them at first and is then trained on how to relate to her captures. She is then seated with the huge responsibility of waking all of her fellow humans and helping them to acclimate to their new surroundings. Though Lilith is very unsure of how her fellow humans will take the shock of their interesting and scary situation, she decides that it will be best for her to wake only women first. She claims that women will be more receptive to the change and less violent towards the Oankali.

Though Lilith is only a mear character in a single work of Butler’s, this sexist undertone is also mirrored in a few of her other works. For instance, Butler seems to always choose strong female characters to play the role of the protagonist, such as the strong childlike fifty-something year-old half human, half Ina, Shori, in her vampire novel, Fledgling. Another prime example of Butler’s favoritism towards women is the strong black women, Dena who learns that she is a sort of time traveler in her hit novel Kindred. Through my various readings of Butler’s work I conclude that her strong attraction to independent empowered female protagonist could mirror her own personal desire for strong women.