The House of the Scorpion centers on many of the same issues and ideas that have surfaced in the science-fiction novels we have read to date. What qualifies as “human”? When, after alteration, does a human lose his humanity? The difference is between them lies in the manner of Matt’s dehumanization.

Our first sighting of Matt is simply as a “droplet of life.” However, the following chapters force us to see him in his moments of petulance and the selection and proliferation of his toys as we would any other child. Until the revulsion displayed by Mr. Alacran the reader cannot truly understand the perception of clones at the time.

Rosa completes our shift in point-of-view through systematically reducing his environment to suit their classification of Matt as a “filthy beast.” As he slowly comes to accept their bigotry as reality we see him lose the humanity we had already established in his image. The change is evident in the shame he exhibits relieving himself in front of a sleeping Maria till he becomes desensitized to his living conditions in his makeshift sty.

While in the other novels we have witnessed varying degrees of humanity only The House of the Scorpion actively has shown an individual degraded instead of built up. (Think of the monster in Frankenstein, Case in Neuromancer,  and Lilith in Lilith’s Brood.)

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Jukka Sarasti Viewpoint

Preparations complete.

  • Anti-matter reserves – 100%.
  • Theseus expansion – 58% and counting.
  • Charybdis overhaul – 100%

Next objective: Dispatch Keeton in Charybdis.
Keeton summoned to personal quarters. It will arrive in approximately 3.2337 minutes. Human will delay while contemplating disobeying. Ingrained subservience will override apprehension. Best suited reaction… Empathy 41%… Threat of last encounter 8%… Honesty 51%.
Keeton enters as I examine Rorschach growth allometry. Access English grammatical system. DVI offends the human’s sensibilities. Resist predatory impulse at its discomfiture. Explain rudimentary uses of facial dimension variables with limited condescension. Suppress the strengthening predatory impulse.
Attempt to ease relations; predator-prey dynamic and the human lack of perspective negates my efforts. Proceed to state Keeton’s objectives and reasoning behind his selection. Elaborate extensively to give understanding of situation.
Most effective tactic… Cascade facts regarding Keeton’s qualities as “Chinese Room” information receptacle and his “object lesson” as means to endow ability to convince – believe. As preconditioned unwillingness to accept vampires/vampiric logic wanes continue to anticipate and answer its simplistic view of situation.
Calculate effectiveness of subduing Keeton and placing it in Charybdis versus subsequent damage in psyche and effect upon ability to convey message upon arrival at Earth. Effectiveness 100% – Negative ramification 86%.
Trust. Noun. The firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
Generate trust through traded personal . Share folk tale. Human cannot comprehend intricacies. State objective. Pursue objective.

  • Anti-matter reserves – 100%.
  • Theseus expansion – 73% and counting.
  • Charybdis overhaul – 100%

Theseus targeted. Impending attack in 3 seconds and counting. Damage approximation 24% of weakened state. 217 enemy units launched from Rorschach lower perimeter. Theseus hit. Keeton shudders in surprise; needs 13 seconds to comprehend total information. Dropping to floor – 0.6 seconds till his body is out of reach.
Ship damage at 27% of weakened state. James barricaded in bridge. Ship controls are manually overridden. Theseu…. 1001101110000111000111100010101101100111100…
Okay I am going to stop this charade. Sweet Jesus I didn’t get into this one very easily. I attempted to incorporate a perspective on events in this scene through a computer/-POV perspective that I believe is similar to one of a vampire/Theseus combination. I wanted to incorporate percentage based statistics and a predator mentality. By acknowledging Siri as an “it” and as distant as possible it fostered a feeling of separation necessary to kill without emotion. Also I tried to eliminate the past tense in the account due to the vampires’ inability to sense the past as the past. Finally, through the scene of his death I tried to incorporate a couple first-person perspectives. Namely, I thought the routine of his injection should be so normal that he didn’t even notice taking it. Also as the seizure set in I tried to limit his perception of events as the mind would shut down. Lastly, I tried to incorporate Theseus’ thoughts through the display he would have shown Siri. This assignment was much more difficult than I had previously thought it would. Don’t think I captured the sense of Sarasti very well but it was at least mildly entertaining to try.

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“First-person sex — real sex as Chelsea insisted on calling it — was an acquired taste: jagged breathing, the raw slap and stink of sweaty skin full of pores and blemishes, a whole other person with a whole other set of demands and dislikes.” (p. 209)

This quote is not the most important or pivotal line in Blindsight. However, ]this societal perspective is intriguingly accurate while at the same time is perverted, literally and figuratively, from our cultural perspective on sex. This line can be broken down to display the intentional and unintentional information that Siri passes along to the reader.

Primarily, the fact that he labels it as “first-person sex” displays the alternative situation that is available as an alternative. Which incidentally, is basically virtual reality porn and I could create an entirely different blog regarding its societal acceptance in the novel (contrary to our world where at least most people like to pretend they have never seen any such thing… ok). Therefore, Siri calls it “real sex” at Chelsea’s insistence (Another possible blog topic… the difference between feminine and masculine opinions regarding first-person sex). As an acquired taste, this real sex would have to differ from virtual sex, aside from the conversational and emotional aspects, would infer the physical interaction would not even resemble the physical interaction. So what is Siri imagining?

Based upon the final message implied by Siri, “a whole other person with a whole other set of demands and dislikes” regarding Chelsea, the aspect of sex as a personal interaction as opposed to a connection between two different individuals instituted an assembly line for sexual recluses. This single line of text gives the reader valuable insight into Siri and society as whole which drew my interest over many of the others in Blindsight.

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Gabe’s Journal

The little midget is growing on me.  It is difficult to know what he understands about our world now. He unnerves me. His memory is so markedly alien that I cannot stand his presence but there are moments of blatant humanity that still catch me off guard. Things that make me momentarily forget what he is like I actually laughed at something he said earlier. I feel that I should not be surprised by that.

I took him up to the blacksmith today. Of course this was all at Tate’s insistence; it wouldn’t be natural for a woman not to manipulate these things. Anyways, I explained to him how our society functions and he seemed to pick right up on it. When I gave him a coin he called the pheonix a lie. That… thing! I nearly lost it. But… it wasn’t our beliefs he was labeling, I think, just the idea of the pheonix… as a myth? I don’t know how to feel about him anymore.

In many ways, he is as absent-minded as any of us can be. Spitting out the first thing that comes to mind without true regard for the consequences. But… he is so mature in many ways. Was that how he truly saw us? A Freudian slip? I am not even sure why I bother with this. What possible use have I to qualify his humanity?

They will come for him either way.

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Freudian Oankalionomics

The most perplexing aspect of the story in Lilith’s Brood is the understanding/images formulated of the Oankali and their motives. The images portrayed by Octavia Butler are so, obviously, alien that the reader maintains an ever-shifting opinion upon the appearance of these “people” and their ship. However, it is more perplexing to consider the manner of “Why?”

Jdahya states that “I can only say that your people have something we value. You may begin to know how much we value it when I tell you that by your way of measuring time, it has been several million years since we dared to interfere in another people’s act of self-destruction” (p. 16). The fact that the Oankali would override years of precedence in order to save the human race implies that this thing of value is extremely important to their people. This confounds Jdahya’s actions later when Lilith displays her revulsion to the task the Oankali set before her.

He presents the “trade” in the most brusque manner possible; he emphasizes that they will “control conception” and that their children will be “Different, as I said. Not quite like you. A little like us” and that the change will take place in “One generation” (p. 42). The likelihood of Lilith accepting the terms of this arrangement is naturally slim. Which calls the reader to question the manner that Jdahya does lay it out for her. Could he possibly want her not to accept her future? Understandably, Lilith cannot conceive this as a possibility and he offers her a gift of swift, painless death. She cannot bring herself to accept it however and questions whether he would have truly granted it.

His affirmation is questionable in that earlier he admitted that “‘Your [Lilith’s] desire to live is stronger than you realize.’ She sighed. ‘You’re going to test that aren’t you? That’s why you haven’t told me yet what your people want of us.’ ‘Yes'” (p. 26). Due to this, it would seem that the harsh portrayal of her future, the promise that they would test her desire for life, and the offering of deliverance were a ruse to qualify her ability as a parent-subject. Due to her inability to catch them in a true lie, to this point in the novel, we must believe that he would have followed through with his promise. Therefore, what does his mercy towards Lilith say about the Oankali’s necessity to trade for new life, mainly that they are “overdue” for it, and that he would continue the 250 years of searching for and English parent-subject?

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The complexity of the WE3 animals is based on their mental acuity and subjective humanity. Through their actions and decisions the reader gains a perspective that only Dr. Berry achieves within the novel; however, that in itself is subjective due to the assumed guilt at the perversion of these creatures. Therefore, one must ask where, as semi-reasoning beings, they should be classified and what rights they should be inherently given (without confusing this as a debate regarding the rights of all sentient beings on Earth).

On pages 66 and 67, the dog-android pauses to extract a man from the wreckage and states “GUD DOG… HELP MAN… GUD DOG?” (p.66). This concern for the life of a human despite the recent attack by humans upon him and the threat of “DEE-COMM-ISH” (p.28) is instrumental in exhibiting their ability to reason and decide a course of action outside of the parameters of battle and self-defence…

However, the details of this reasoning is the what provides much of the conflict concerning their level of danger to society and those around them. The fact that the man was completely severed at the waist would infer that the animals lack the proper ability to reason that would push them to be capable of inclusion back into the world. This level of reasoning keeps them in the limbo between sentience and reason.

Ultimately, they are not able to re-assimilate before destroying the pieces of armor that “defined” them but was not in truth who/what they were. When they determine that the coat is not what makes them (p.106) and remove themselves from it then their existence is rectified internally. As a result, their level of reasoning is convoluted once again. The philosophical point made at this moment is extremely advanced and would not have been guessed based upon the first impression in the laboratory. Is this mental and spiritual growth a factor of the freedom from their predetermined roles with the government? Is it a product of the suits?

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Interactive Internet?

Neuromancer throws the reader into the futuristic world of genetic re-engineering and cyberwarfare and forces adaptation to the new world while it sprints ahead at breakneck speed. Originally, I envisioned Case “jacking in” in the same manner as portrayed by the “Matrix” series. However, the voice-over explains that early usage required the “cranial jacks” (p. 51) but Case attempts to access the matrix simply by settling a “sweatband” (p. 52) upon his head. The most confusing event is Case’s attempt at Sammi’s. Case stood in front of the food stand and believed he could see the matrix if he closed his eyes; if that is true why do they need to have a physical connection to access it? The lack of a passage concretely explaining how the system works creates the difficult understanding of the process by the reader.

Similarly, this process of stealing information in this manner is much akin to the, at least my, understanding of how modern day hackers access information illicitly. My understanding of these techniques leaders to further confusion regarding the usefulness of individuals like Case at Screaming Fist. What was the military trying to steal through these methods? Furthermore, why did they need a joint militaristic offensive to coincide with the Mole XI? 

To date I do not believe the microsofts and their abilities have been definitively explained. The technology shows that Larry could perceive a that Molly had a “rider” but also that the counters in the room displayed “hundreds of slivers of microsoft” (p. 56).

From all of these cloudy explanations Neuromancer, to date, remains a perplexing novel that

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Response to jdougla8

The argument that McReady has a suspiciously knowledgeable understanding of the monster and its effects upon the individual/s in inhabits is based on the manner in which he expresses his ideas. When concocting the experiment to prove the humanity of those present he states that if one had been infected “you’d know” (22). This firm belief in the manner of one who has been taken over by the alien lends credence to the argument; however, this is also not a far-fetched assumption on the whole coming from scientific minds hypothesizing on the nature of an unknown grounded in what they have experienced to date as well as how it may affect them through their understanding of the natural world to date.

I found that the debate over whether or not the alien could sufficiently deceive and understand them after its revival to be equally unclear. While the minutia of human societal interaction is unfathomable to pick up and perfect by one not accustomed to it, the abilities and understanding of the alien are likewise misrepresented for a being adapted enough to survive that length of time frozen and control Earthly life-forms the way it has should have high enough brain function to adapt enough to deceive those around it. In Chapter 6, Blair states that the alien must have understood the “deepest secrets” of biology therefore the understanding of our nature and interaction should not have been too far out of its depth.

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The Daemon’s Fatal Mistake

 The tragedy of Frankenstein’s creature centers around the moment in which his desire of a mate is dashed upon the ground. While Frankenstein labors over his work in Scotland he battles with bouts of nausea at the thought of his actions whereas during his “first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded [him] to the horror of [his] employment” (V. 3 Ch. 2 pg. 189). This internal struggle sets up the disastrous moment where Frankenstein’s eyes alight upon the monster for the first time since the creation of their pact.

“A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me…. his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery” (V. 3 Ch. 3 pg. 191). Due to either his preconceived notions about the female’s future temperament, possibly murderous at a whim, or her perception of the world compared to that already exhibited by the male, Frankenstein looks up from the body and assumes the worst upon registering the eagerly awaiting ghoul.

Do you think that the expression of the monster was interpreted based upon the emotion of Frankenstein in assuming that inherent evil would imbue the female being or that the monster literally wore a devilish expression of contentment at this sight of Frankenstein at work? Consider the possibility that he may be gleeful at the prospect of forcing the perpetrator of his horrid existence to create for himself a partner in his image and relishing in the power to do so despite his vehement refusal at the outset of their recent meeting.

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Frankenstein: The Evolution

Throughout our modern society we, as individuals, frequently complain concerning the variations between novels and the movies created in their image. In regards to Shelley’s Frankenstein this has never been more readily apparent. I must shamefully admit that while picking apart the first volume of the novel I kept expecting to find Dr. Frankenstein at some point inhabiting a castle. Such are the effects of the passage of time, adaptations to the plot to increase effectiveness of the horror aspect of the movie, and ultimately the more widespread proliferation of the movie plot as opposed to that of the original text.

My question concerning the changes in almost all aspects of the novel versus the films is simply could the directors, before the nature of the story was adapted of course, not have achieved a similar and possibly even more hauntingly scary movie by sticking to Shelley’s vision? I believe the abject fear described by Victor as the “creature” begins to take those he loves from him while he knows the truth of the events yet fears to announce his knowledge is haunting enough in itself.

Moreover, the perspective shifting from Victor as the quasi-victim in the novel to the perfect image for all “mad scientists” to come is intriguing. While I must admit to the effectiveness of the character portrayed in the movies to imbue the freakish horror aspect of the films I fail to understand how the original perspective would not have translated well to the screen.

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