Thursday, April 21, 2016

Aquatic Uncle

1.  The gap between land animal and fish serves as a very literal and evident generational gap, but serves the purpose of a figurative one as well. Uncle N’ba N’ga is a product of another time, even genetically speaking, and this underscores the differences between the ages. This is used within the structure of the story to convey many concepts regarding change, prejudices, and reactions in relation to the evolution of a society.
2.     It was easy to connect with the scenario of being in relation to one whose lifestyle or opinions have fallen out of popular favor in a rapidly changing setting. N’ba N’gas vexed tirades on the newer generations and their alternative lifestyles would be perfectly at home amongst Baby Boomer frustrations towards Millenials. In addition, Lll’s interest in N’ba N’ga’s ways and subsequent reactionary dismissive response towards contemporary trends is a familiar pattern amongst youth today.

3.     Were I to adapt The Aquatic Uncle to a graphic novella, I would condense the spoken exposition as the visual elements might allow the difference in species to be more easily readable.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lilith's Brood

Octavia E. Butler's Lilith's Brood continues the trend introduced by previous sci-fi readings: approaching societal issues typically deemed impolite to discuss through fictional foils. Lilith's Brood touches on a number of topics, taking complex, fluid stances on race, sexuality, and gender that allow for more exploration than more dismissive mainstream approaches. Lilith's interaction with the Oankali, mankind's captors and saviors, is nuanced by the many facets of the relationship between the two species. Xenophoboia, reluctant desire, and the drive to survive and reproduce all play a role in the link between the remains of mankind and the alien species they have been abducted by. The events that take place could also serve as an allegorical method of discussing the state of and feelings experienced by displaced ethnic groups and how racially charged environments affect desire and survival.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness is not only a famous and popular sci staple, but a perfect example of early sci fi used as an exploration of topics that would have at the time been considered taboo. The ambisexual Gethenians, and protagonist Genly Ai's struggle to understand them, allows the novel to explore complex topics regarding culture vs. sex, sexuality, and sexual expression, providing Ai as a relatable protagonist to the mainstream American of the late 60's so that readers might build an understanding through him in a somewhat vicarious manner.

Anansi Boys

Like Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or even Joyce's Ulysses, Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is a contemporary reimagining of existing mythic characters and tales in a very literal sense. Mr. Nancy, the father of Charlie, is the literal incarnation of the trickster god Anansi, and Charlie's twin brother (ultimately revealed to be half of him) controls spider trickster powers as well. The mythical elements on this story are not only made more contemporary through their actual appearance in, and interaction with, the modern world, but also through Gaiman's transplanting of African cosmology into a Western setting, refreshing the format of both Western and African mythological interaction at once.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Snow Crash

Reading even a portion of Snow Crash was a fascinating and somewhat dizzying experience. I use the latter descriptor due to the fact that Snow Crash is by far the most bafflingly quintessentially cyberpunk piece of media I've ever encountered, even as somewhat of a parody. A key feature of Snow Crash's world is the Metaverse, a virtual space in which users can perform a range of augmented reality tasks, not unlike a futuristic version of the game Second Life. The Metaverse ultimately proves dangerous as the titular drug, Snow Crash, transmits both a computer virus through the Metaverse and harmful side effects in real life, as well as more easily spreading the Sumerian language, which serves, effectively, as a programming language for human beings. The implication of this may be that Stephenson is condemning reliance on technology or, more likely, that Stephenson is suggesting humans and machines are not so unlike one another.


The 2016 Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco was an incredible opportunity and spectacle to take part in, and though the primary focus was on the art and design of video games, there was a noticeable emergent conversation regarding narrative and writing in games. Several panels presented by employees working at studios such as Bioware centered around various aspects of writing, considerable buzz surrounded the nominees for "best narrative", and it was more common than one might expect to spot nametags with "writing" filled in under the occupation or interest field. I spoke at length with several such individuals at parties regarding narrative supporting gameplay and vice versa, examples of writing ingrained into the core functions of games, and general career tips, such as one indie developer who advised me to "publish something on Kindle for 99 cents, because I already almost made 10,000 dollars." I also ran into a representative of the Screenwriter's Guild on the career floor, who mentioned that the Guild was becoming increasingly interested in game writing, and provided advice for becoming involved with writing for a team which hinged on, in his words, having a presence. Though it wasn't the main focus by a longshot, I feel I walked away from GDC with an improved understanding of the workings of writing for games, and with a greater sense of confidence and knowledge when approaching my own work.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Night Circus

Many have drawn comparisons between Morgenstern's Night Circus and Rowling's Harry Potter for their magic and whimsy, as well as their subtext of romance and maturation amongst young adults. What Night Circus also shares with Rowling's work, however, is a slew of moral quandaries and trials posed to the young protagonists. The idea of Free Will is one that Night Circus plays with frequently; Marco and Celia are not only both heavily influenced and guided by their mentors, but their entire lives are contextualized by the competition that sustains the circus. The questioning of authority becomes a feature as both begin to uncover the truth of their competition with one another, and this is sustained as both confront their mentors to argue the terms of the competition. Ultimately, the story climaxes with Celia's sacrifice, an act of both Free Will and disobedience of authority, which seals her fate along with Marco's but results in the two being set free of their burden together. Though their final circumstance isn't completely ideal, they are happy, which suggests that Morgenstern is suggesting that going one's own way is the key to transitioning to adulthood.