User:Atallent/HUMN 4472 Journal

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August 25, 2019: Initial Idea of Science Fiction

I see science fiction as a genre that explores the possibilities of what is to come or could become possible. Creators of work like this use imaginative thinking to conjure up ideas of advancements in technology, humanity, and the world itself in the future as it compares to the state of theirs at that time.

The genre of science fiction has been exposed to us through various movies, television shows, and novels. My most recent encounter was through the film, A Trip to the Moon, by Georges Méliès. This story depicts space exploration which is something that did not become possible until many decades and technological advancements later.

Since they are ideas based off science, a majority of these fantasy worlds are recognized as having the ability to come to fruition, but they can also contain elements that are not as accepted such as the idea of aliens, powers, etc. Though the technology dealing with the many space-related storylines might be far off, it is not necessarily impossible which makes stories like these intriguing and at times, a cautionary tale.

August 25, 2019: Learning About Science Fiction

The Truth About Science Fiction offered much insight into the history and noticeable advancements that have occurred as a result of science fiction works that I had not known before. Wireless communication, lie detectors, aviation, televisions, robots, and tanks were all ideas created in the minds of these early writers that were then transformed into their physical forms that have continued to advance and grow into these things that people use on a daily basis.

The documentary also addresses the patent lawsuit that H.G. Wells entered in to have the recognition as the inventor of the tank. I thought this was an interesting point about the ideas that are created in science fiction. Though these writers are innovators of change and advancement, the development of these life-changing technologies are credited elsewhere. Ursula Le Guin discusses this concept in her introduction from which I learned that the “idea” contained in science fiction work cannot be compared to that of a scientist’s incomparable completion of it.[1]

Through Philip K. Dick’s definition of science fiction, I learned that this genre can also be set in the present as an alternate-world and is not solely exclusive to futuristic societies that differ from ours.[2] He sites the ‘’shock of dysrecognition” as the essence of science fiction, but that it must also be recognized as possible for it not to be confused with fantasy.[3] Science fiction is based on imagination and creativity, but it does contain limitations to those that are accepted within the bounds of this genre.

September 9, 2019: Passage of Time

John Cheever’s "The Swimmer" is not the typical science fiction story that I am accustomed to seeing. There is this element to the story that does not align with what could actually be possible, but is something that could be more logically explained by acknowledging that Neddy’s interpretation of events is unreliable. This element that I am speaking of is the passage of time as we encounter it in the story which has Neddy traveling from pool to pool on the “Lucinda River” during the span of one midsummer afternoon.

When reading through the story, it is natural to brush off some of the initial signs that something is off like Neddy does at first, but when these irregularities advance near the midpoint of the story, one cannot help but to wonder what has happened. Neddy clearly has no recollection of the “misfortunes” Mrs. Halloran speaks about, Eric’s operation, or going “broke” and asking for a loan from Grace,[4] but according to those around him, all of these events have happened.

It was questioned if he is losing his memory,[5] but as the reader can tell, some time has passed from the initial midsummer day he had set out on. His surroundings gradually got colder and showed signs of autumn, Eric’s operation was revealed to have happened three years ago, and he lost weight and began to get weaker pool after pool. Neddy begins to forget the concept of time as it relates to the memories he has and wonders if things were “last week, last month, last year,”[6] reinforcing this idea that a considerable amount of time and a disorienting event has occurred without his knowledge.

The science fiction element that this story contains is from a form of time travel which advances Neddy’s decline in society each dip in the pool or after each drink he takes. We know this passage of time to be true in some sense because when he returns home, the door handles are rusted and his home is empty. Neddy’s attempt to stay youthful and escape the harsh realities that time brings catches up with him as it does everyone.

@Atallent: Good work. Be sure you're using secondary sources to support and develop your ideas. —Grlucas (talk) 07:35, 10 September 2019 (EDT)
@Atallent: You bring up very interesting points. I agree with you for the most part. However, you stated that the harsh realities that time brings catches up with everyone. Do you believe this happens because we know this to be true or do you believe we allow ourselves to believe this therefore it becomes true? —AmaniSensei (talk)

Septemper 9, 2019: The Past

The theme of both John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” and Chris Marker’s La Jetée align because no matter how much one wants to stay in the past, it is not possible.

For Neddy, he wants to appear youthful despite not being and he also wants to keep his status in his community high despite having troubles both financially and martially that will derail these aspirations of his. It is his avoidance of these problems that cause this confusion and passage of time to accelerate to where it is no longer under his ability to fix. His desire to stay in the past is marked by his pool hopping, but it is his physical deterioration and scorn from peers that ground him in reality.

For the man in La Jetée, the present is that of dismay and he wants to escape it by staying in the past with the woman there who he met and now loves. He declines an offer to enter the future where he might have lived, but in choosing to stay in the past, the man loses his life. Even though we see time travel come to fruition in the story, we learn that you cannot reset time and go back to something you did not already have.

Through both of these stories, we learn that you can only move forward no matter how harsh that reality might be.

September 15, 2019: The concept of time in “Blink”

The Doctor Who episode, “Blink,” is an interesting science fiction story that revolves around time and how the past, present, and future are all existing as one non-linear sequence of events. Time is presented in this way the most when we witness Sally having a conversation with the Doctor who is reading off a transcript in 1969 that was still in the process of being written in Sally’s time. If time were to occur linearly and through the actions of cause and effect, this occurrence would have never been possible, but through the power of time travel, it is the future that now impacts the present.

As we learn at the end of the episode, it was Sally’s future self who gave the Doctor the materials he needed to help the Sally of the present eventually stop the Weeping Angels from more destruction. When the two meet each other, The Doctor says, “things do not always happen to me in the right order”[7] to which Sally later says, “it’s still in your future".[8] One’s concept of time is rearranged because even though the events of the episode are now in Sally’s past, they are to occur in the Doctor’s future.

The TARDIS is not the only manipulator of time present, the Weeping Angels have this ability as well. It is the Doctor who describes their ability to transport people back in time as a form of ‘death’ because, as described by Penny Crofts, “a person’s identity is not just bound up with their physical body or even a particular mind, but with who and what a person cares about”.[9] In removing these individuals from everything they know and love whilst keeping every aspect of their selves the same, the Weeping Angels serve “a fate worse than death” since it is difficult to cope with the lost possibilities and future that they always imagined would be obtainable to them in the world that they knew, but can now never return to.[9]

@Atallent: I also wrote about the time sequence in my journal. I found it to be very clever to have everything wrap up in the end as Sally’s future self being the one that sent her all the clues. Yet, having her meet a past Doctor that had not even experienced her past.--Daisja30 (talk) 23:30, 15 September 2019 (EDT)

September 16, 2019: The Present

I see the common theme between Doctor Who’s “Blink” and William Gibson’s “The Gernsback Continuum” as characters seeing some sort of beauty in whatever time they are given or are currently in.

In “Blink,” Kathy and Billy are sent back in time by the Weeping Angels long before they were born to live out their days with no possibility of returning to the future which was once their present. The two end up marrying and living full, fulfilling lives despite this drastic change and can be interpreted that though these two were removed from the time they are familiar with, it was the past that they made home.

In “The Gernsback Continuum,” the narrator acknowledges that the “perfect” world of the imagined future of the 1930s could be even worse than the world he is living in now despite the obvious problems it faces. Though he views the world as in a state of “near-dystopia”,[10] it is the “semiotic ghosts” rooted from the past that haunt the narrator in the present, similar to how Kathy and Billy’s past in their now future must continue to haunt them in their present as time moves forward.

The alternate present of this idealized world he is experiencing becomes even more haunting to him as he realizes “some unnamed atrocity must have taken place for such a world to exist” and that "perfect" does not exist without faults.[11] Therefore, the dream of a perfect reality is never as it seems and the best reality that we have is the one in which we are currently interacting.

September 23, 2019: Wanting more

The desire to be more than what you are is a theme that prevails across all genres. In “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, Douglas Quail despises the fact that he is “a miserable little salaried employee”[12] and dreams of doing bigger and better things with his life, specifically going to Mars.

Despite his wife offering a real opportunity for an adventure, he opts for something that will only ever be an illusion which he describes as having no real impact unless subjectively viewed.[13] Later in the story we come to find that his biggest flaw is the “fact that he really does matter is less significant than the fact that he wants to be conscious of his significance”.[14] Quail battles with not only wanting to live and be the person of his fantasy life, but wanting to know that he is for his own self-assurance.

Even in the future, with all the advancements in technology and so on, we see that society will still be stuck in this state of selfish and individualistic desires. The story speaks to this idea as it shows Quail as a skillfully trained Interplan agent/assassin and the savior of Earth from alien invasion as long as he alone is still alive.

September 23, 2019: Perception and Memory Manipulation

An interesting parallel between the two stories is how one’s perception of the truth can be altered and how memory manipulation is an important tool used in both these present and future situations.

In “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, memory is manipulated by technology while in the X-Files episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” memory is manipulated by words. Though achieving the same thing through different methods, the theme of the two stories remains the same. Memories are the most integral part to understanding ourselves and who we are, but when that is taken away or is manipulated, it is easy to lose sight of yourself and who you are as a person.

Memory is influenced by outside factors and sources that help to fill in the gaps that one is not always aware is present. Even though the technology for memory implantation is not present currently, the idea of having these physical “souvenirs” as tokens that would reinforce Quail's trip to Mars actually happened is the same idea as pictures jogging our memories or creating new ones based off of what we see because we perceive truth in what is physical.

We also rely on the spoken word to tell us what has happened and what to believe which is prevalently seen in Chrissy’s character as well as everyone else in the show. Their perception of events changes with each story told because we search for the truth in what is spoken despite its unreliable tendencies. Emily Todd VanDerWerff describes the episode as having at least two interpretations of events which are similar, but divulge when it comes to “actual fact or interpretation of that fact”.[15] The “truth” for us is oftentimes a compilation of what we have experienced and what we have been told by others to help fill in the gaps that we inherently have.

@Atallent: Be sure to proofread. Please see my feedback that I will be updating through the day on 9/24/19. —Grlucas (talk) 11:04, 24 September 2019 (EDT)

September 29, 2019: A Child's Right to Privacy

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns when considering the impact of the “grain” seen in the Black Mirror episode, “The Entire History of You.”

Throughout the episode, we are introduced to the idea of the government scanning your memories for threats, husbands searching for the truth, and individuals using it to relive past experiences, but the most impactful scene I saw where this technology was put to use was that when Ffion and Liam were viewing their daughter Jodie’s memories on the screen after they arrived back from the party.

It is understandable for parents to be worried about their child at that age, especially when they are in the care of others, but to when will this stop and the child have the right to privacy and their own memories. This type of technology may be useful to independent adults to look back on good times, but for a child, it could be used in a way that is like a surveillance camera of their lives that can be viewed by their parents at any time they please. This reinforces that “the use of the grain potentially makes private memories available to anyone who chooses to see them”.[16]

Everything they do could be monitored without choice or ordered to be shown as a “re-do” when they are in their young and formative years since they may not have the choice to say no or feel like they can. With this type of technology present, there is a constant eye on everybody that no one can escape. The grain is no longer used for memories, but ways to catch people in a lie or figure out the truth.

I feel like parents would use this technology to keep an eye on their kids and in the case of Fifon and Liam, who already have control of their daughter’s memories, it would likely be hard for them to hand over that kind of power or come up with the “right time” to do so. In this case, one's memories are more like a prison than a way to remember.

September 29, 2019: No True Advancement

The connection between Black Mirror’s “The Entire History of You” and James Tiptree Jr.'s “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” is that the technology depicted only fuels a fantasy world and cannot give one what they truly want to experience. In both stories, these characters rely on technology to live in a state that is unattainable to them.

The world shown in “The Entire History of You” has its individuals clinging to the past and replaying their lives as they wish it still was. These advancements only fuel a façade that are not capable of replacing the true experience that life gives you. Alex Boren relates this to how “always having access to the Internet or social media disconnects users from their immediate environment”.[17] One will never truly be able to return to or experience those good, happy, or fun times again, they will only ever be in the constant state of remembering them and wishing to go back instead of living as life was intended in the present.

“The Girl Who Was Plugged In” has P. Burke living the life she was deprived of through Delphi despite the fact that she will never actually embody this persona she has created. Melissa Colleen Stevenson says that “[she] is both liberated and trapped by her Delphi body”[18] which perfectly mirrors the overall impact the technology has. The technology only provides an illusion and she is reminded that again when Paul chooses the controlled shell that is Delphi rather than the one that controls/is her.

In the end, the technology did nothing to further advance the main characters’ lives in a positive manner. Liam’s jealousy and demand to obtain the truth lead him to forcefully expunge his database of memories to where he is left with nothing on both ends and ends with P. Burke dying without actually achieving the life she desired.

October 7, 2019: Concept of Reality

The most interesting aspect of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Far Beyond the Stars,” was the questioning of if the reality that Benjamin Sisko believes he is living is actually real or if it is just the making of Benny Russell’s imagination.

The episode seems to confirm that both of these realities are true and are existing simultaneously. In the ambulance, Benny asks “Who am I?” to which the reply is, “You are the dreamer… and the dream.” To be both the one that imagines a world upon a space station in the future and the one that is actually living in it is an impossibility in both the concept of time as we understand it and how we believe to know ourselves as individuals.

The notion of which one is the true illusion is subjective as Sisko’s journey to 1950s New York as Benny can be seen as a tool that gives him “strength to continue fighting”[19] or that Benny’s “notion of a truly equal society is the delusion of a dejected black man”.[19] This story has viewers contemplating reality as they know it and if the life we are living is truly our own or just the one that is imagined by another.

October 8, 2019: Oppression

Something that both Octavia Butler's short story, “Bloodchild,” and the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, “Far Beyond the Stars,” do well is use the genre of science fiction to explore the racial and gender inequalities and problems present in society.

In “Far Beyond the Stars,” we see Benny struggling to find his place as both an individual and a working man in a world where he faces constant oppression and discrimination. At the point where we are introduced in the story, all appear to have been going well, but that image soon changes after he is told not to take part in the company photo and after his stories continue to get blocked from publication. That is when we begin to see the true colors behind those in power.

In “Bloodchild,” the humans inhabiting the Preserve experience similar oppression by the Tlics who are the ones in power. The Terrans and them are seen living in harmony until, as Helford suggests, Gan witnesses the “blood ritual” which opens his eyes and has him “face the true nature of human-Tlic relations”.[20] They are being used for a purpose that serves them and that is why they remain.

Just as Benny is being used by the company to produce works that benefit them and their profits, the humans of the Preserve are being used for their warmth and their bodies to be carriers of an extraterrestrial species’ eggs which allows them to prosper. Both are just trying to live in a normal manner, but the power structure is what is keeping this common theme of oppression prevalent across these vastly different worlds.

October 14, 2019: Limits of Technology

As in many of the Science Fiction stories we are exposed to, the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33,” is similar in the fact that it revolves around “a very human concern in the midst of what is otherwise an alien landscape of spaceships and Cylons”.[21]

Sleep deprivation is a far more looming concern in staying alive against a force who does not require these basic necessitates that humans need for survival than having the technology that can allow for their evasion from attack every 33 minutes. As seen in the episode, they have this type of technology at their disposal, but it is human error or the misoperation of this technology that can lead to mistakes which is what ultimately ends up costing this society lives.

In an advanced society, nothing is more important than remembering the human aspect that fuels the limits to which technology is capable of being useful. In "33," technology reaches its extent when its operation is no longer at its peak, which is what makes this story that much more disturbing and relatable on a less high-stakes ground.

October 13, 2019: Responsibility

Tom Godwin’s short story, “The Cold Equations,” and the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33,” has the aspect of responsibility in common. Each of these two stories contains a character who is faced with the responsibility of executing a harrowing fate onto an individual or individuals due to the circumstances and laws of the world they are in.

In “The Cold Equations,” the EDS pilot is faced with carrying through with a “law not of men’s choosing but made imperative by the circumstances of the space frontier”.[22] An innocent teenage girl must be sent to her death for the survival of others, but this decision was not one made by the law that ordered it. It was one made by Marylin after her realization that her death meant the survival of more than just her.

This story shows how technology fails when it comes to humanity and compassion and leads to a world that has others’ fate decided by numbers that calculate a smooth operation of this advancement. The EDS pilot’s feeling of responsibility is not leveled by the fact that it was something that by law had to be done. Despite its benefits, his actions still weigh on him for it was only the technology that limited him from saving her life.

The same can be said of Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama in the Battlestar Galactica episode, “33.” The call to take down the Olympic Carrier was of course not his own, it was an order for him to follow and execute for the survival of the larger number of souls, but that does not make what he did weigh any less heavy on his mind.

This sentiment is reinforced in the episode when William Adama says, “I gave the order. It was my responsibility,” to which Cpt. Lee ‘Apollo’ Adama responds by saying, “I pulled the trigger. That’s mine (responsibility).”

As Nicholl suggests, the story “provides an apparent justification for doing terrible things in the name of necessity” which is what makes a science fiction story’s motivations, such as “The Cold Equations,” that much more striking.[23] Marylin and the Olympic Carrier’s fate cannot solely be placed on the shoulders of these two individuals. They were merely in the position enforcing what had to be done in order to save others from an equally cruel fate. Both feel the responsibility of that which is handed to those on the receiving end due to their limitations in using their humanity in a cruel, technological world.




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  • Boren, Alex (January 2015). "A Rhetorical Analysis of Black Mirror: Entertaining Reflections of Digital Technology's Darker Effects".
  • Cheever, John (1964). "The Swimmer" (PDF).
  • Colleen Stevenson, Melissa (March 2007). "Posthuman Cyborgs and the Search for Connection" (PDF).
  • Crofts, Penny (2018). Peters, Tim; Crawley, Karen (eds.). "Don't Blink: Monstrous Justice and the Weeping Angels of Doctor Who". Routledge.
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  • Dick, Philip K. (1966). "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (PDF).
  • Gibson, William (1981). "The Gernsback Continuum" (PDF).
  • Godwin, Tom (1954). "The Cold Equations" (PDF).
  • Helford, Elyce Rae (1994). "'Would you really rather dies than bear my young?':The Construction of Gender, Race, and Species in Octavia E. Butler's 'Bloodchild'". 28 (2). African American Review.
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  • Nicoll, James Davis (April 20, 2019). "On Needless Cruelty in SF: Tom Godwin's 'The Cold Equations'". TOR.
  • Saraiya, Sonia (August 28, 2014). "Battlestar Galactica: '33'". AV Club.
  • Schwartz, Lukasz. "Of Semiotic Ghosts and Phantoms".
  • Teixeira, Bianca Rodrigues; Santoro, Flavia Maria. "Memory and Privacy in The Entire History of You" (PDF).
  • VanDerWerff, Emily Todd (August 15, 2010). "The X-Files: 'Hell Money'/'Jose Chung's From Outer Space'/'Avatar'". AV Club.
  • "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale". Word Press. May 30, 2014.