Monday, November 24, 2014

Tolkien Again?

Now I’ve always been a fan of Tolkien.  In fact, Lord of the Rings is what inspired me to play Dungeons and Dragons. (I do believe I referenced this in another post) I have discussed these books with a lot of my friends and my Dad had also shown plenty of interest in it as well.  My dad actually was the one who gave me the book “The Hobbit” to read in the first place.

            I love the themes that they have in the book.  The theme of big things come in small packages is something that I love to see happen.  Seeing someone who is pushed out of their comfort zone and watching them adapt to the situation.  You read on how Bilbo grows as a character as he realizes what he can do.  You read how you can help no matter how small you are or how little you can do.  It shows that no matter who you are, just by experiencing things differently or having a different perspective only helps you.

            Now with the ideas of genre that I have discussed over the semester, I see a lot of other elements in this book and that it isn’t all just fantasy medieval.  Theres the great beyond like Star Wars had,  and it has the “oppression” expressed within Bloodchild, yet they rebel against it. 

            It’s really amazing just how many different things can be analyzed from just one book.  It’s incredibly just how much work goes into these, and I’ll never be able to find out if all of it is intentional or not.  Guess its more fun if I don’t know.

20 flavors in one lollipop. Doesn't work.

            There is a big difference between things that are something, and other things that share traits with the original.  This doesn’t exist in just literature as well.  Video games, though some people consider them forms of literature, have different genres as well.  You might see a First Person Shooter with Roleplaying elements, but that doesn’t mean that this First Person Shooter is a roleplaying game.  This is the distinction. 

            It is very important that people get these right because it is the only things that separate genres.  Sure they almost blur the line between them, but mixing too many flavors together takes away from both and glorifies neither.  More isn’t merrier.  Think of the added elements as a twist to an already existing form of literature.  It needs to support the main genre or themes within the story or novel, otherwise the reader will be confused.

            Now knowing this does have some effect on how I read things, and I think the need for rules and structures is what formed a lot of western literatures need to have to explain things.  When these twists happen it’s what allows us to see things differently, sometimes literally when they just show the same story but in someone else’s viewpoint.  There’s nothing wrong with this technique, but it can easily get out of hand.

Natural Oppression?

For this week I really want to touch on Bloodchild by Octavia Butler even though it was read during that class.  Bloodchild was a really interesting read.  It really gives a different spin on the whole social class thing, if that is an accurate way to describe it.  Its about how human crash landed on another planet, and with the help of another species were able to exist on the planet.  However the cost for the ability to survive was basically the enslavement of their race for the sole purpose of birthing the young of said other species.

Now I can only guess what the majority thinks about this stuff, but honestly it seems normal that the people in power would have a grip on those who don’t.  It may not be right, but its natural for this kind of social exchange to occur.  We still see it today and we will see it existing for very long time far longer than any of our lifespans.

It was good at describing what the actual “oppression” was.  Masked by being nice, and you should help us because we helped you, and anyone who disagrees can go away.  So in a nutshell, its our way or the highway, and when the highway isn’t a choice, well…  

With all that said, I can’t stop thinking that this is a natural occurrence.  Will this always exist?  Is it holding some kind of balance?  Just like there is the cycle of life, will this cycle of oppression continue to happen.  I’d imagine that it will happen proportionally, like the “oppression” will not actually seem like oppression but there will be some kind of advantage one has over the other.  This story proves it, although they care for them they do hold the human’s lives in their… claws?

CyberSteam? Would that work?

Cyberpunk and Steampunk are augmented realities.  Meaning that they are existing realities with a twist. Kind of like vanilla oreos.  There normal oreos, just with vanilla.  It follows the rules and laws of the base and then adds upon or tweaks to get something familiar yet different.  Thus making it easier to latch onto and enjoy faster.

Now steampunk is all about steam powered equipment.  Everything from your cars to your toaster.  Just throw some coal in it, wait for the water to heat up and BOOM, opera  Now this is a fantastic setting to getting the future closer to the now.  What I mean is like it was a way to get all the ideas of the future into the now at the same time.  Its not necessarily viable, but it’s the fact that it can happen.
ting machinery.

Cyberpunk is more in the future, lots of tech gear and physical augmentation to the body.  This is like a viable steampunk and it provides for some interesting ideas of the future.  It doesn’t take place in the future per say, but it is close.  It’s like we have the technology of the future now, but not the ideas.  So in a sense it’s the opposite.

Both of these themes dictate what the reader could expect.  For instance, the steampunk novels will have lots of overly complicated gadgets that get the job done, but at the price of time and money.  Cyberpunk will get it done in a flash, but your problems will be tough ones. So both of them provide interesting reads and watches but also have a structure of guidelines both in and outside the story that will provide barriers to what could happen in that setting.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Valuable Ideas

Knowledge is the most powerful thing that we have as humans.  It has given us all of our advancements and has brought us closer together as a society.  However it’s a double edge sword, our knowledge has led to wars and the murders of million upon millions of people.  It hold no tangible value and can be faked, yet it is valued by so many people. 

This is reflected in many books and stories in past society and today’s society.  There are many stories on how ideas are dangerous and that they should be censored.  There are also many stories that have the theme of ideas being the solution to their problems.  I watched the required movie Fahrenheit 451 and it convinced me to pick the book up again.  This being one the book I was forced to read in high school, it meant a lot for that to happen.

I started reading it, and although I didn’t finish it (I plan to finish it when I get the time to),  it was like a brand new story for me.  I loathed reading this in high school and opted just to read the spark notes to pass the quiz the following class.  Now knowing the value of ideas and critical thinking, it’s much more engaging.

In these stories ideas are seen as the bad force, they need to be purged.  They are the bringer of all our problems and if we just stop thinking differently, we wont have these issues.  This is kind of true in the real world as well.  As we find new things, new ways of life, they threaten the old.  There is no positive change or negative change, just like evil refers to the nation that lost the war.  Knowledge is a dangerous weapon but it is something that must be pursued.

Can you sing in space? Then why opera?

I have and always will be a fan of Star Wars.  I owe this to my dad who is a huge Star Trek and Star Wars fan.  I was about in Third grade when I began to take an interest in what my dad was watching.  I had no idea what was going on but it looked cool and they had laser guns.  Well my dad thought it was a good idea to introduce me to Star Wars seeing that episode one was coming out in theaters at the time.

            Now the western and the sea story structures all have a big part of them about the grand spaces of the unknown.  Unknown possibilities lie for those who come to explore.  The great sea has unknown lands waiting to be conquered, and the west has the promise of fame and fortune.  Well is you apply this to the final frontier, space, you can get some incredibly interesting settings.  If each world has its own ways of life and untold riches how can you run out, its like the ultimate ocean and unexplored territory.

            It’s not surprising that many people love these series.  I attribute a lot of it to the fact that these settings allow for people to come up with their own stories.  They’ve created a giant sandbox that anyone can use to create their own ideas.  You know you have something good when people are able to take what you have and create close to an infinite amount of things from it.

It’s not all about exploration though, Starship Trooper gave it more of a human survival kind of thing.  For our knowledge of space travel, we have to now defend ourselves on a bigger scale.  There are so many things you can do with a good setting and all of this was brought upon by a adaptation of another theme.