With this Steam-Powered Prosthetic Arm, I Could Be As Strong as… A Normal Person
Jaymee: nice illumination of the intersections of steampunk and disability. Some of my academic work focuses on disabled figures in science fiction (particularly looking at the cyborg, as you allude above with your focus on tools and prostheses). Yet I've never considered steampunk in particular in this light. Strong work.
Playing Human in Octavia Butler’s Imago
I am planning to review the Earthseed novels in the near future. As for Patternist, Jo Walton has done some tremendous posts on those: Who's human anyway? Who's free? Octavia Butler's Pattern series "My Star Trek novel": Octavia Butler's Survivor
Playing Human in Octavia Butler’s Imago
Great question. And so hard to answer. All throughout Butler's fiction she depicts great abilities or gifts as the flip side of some disease, disorder or disability. I think of them as inseparable dis/abilities ... things like hyperempathy in the Earthseed novels and telepathy in the Patternist series. Also the Clayark disease in the latter. Cancer and the Contradiction serve the same function in Lilith's Brood as the dis/abilities above. The Contradiction makes humanity terrifying and irresistible to the Oankali. Their cancer is another manifestation of the liability/asset theme Butler always returns to. Though the shape-shifting depends on the cancer, I don't think resolving the Contradiction does. I always thought human cancer was our contribution to the genetic trade, and theirs was resolving the Contradiction, simply by introducing their DNA into the mix. I think the Contradiction continues to play with Butler's ambivalence about biological destiny. The Oankali approval of a human colony on Mars seems to indicate that the Oankali are not 100% certain they were correct about the Contradiction in the first place. Is it deterministic? Why let the humans start the colony if they are so certain humanity is just destined to destroy it thanks to the Contradiction? This is left unresolved in Adulthood Rites. The Oankali themselves are a bit Contradictory. They berate humanity for hierarchical behavior, when the Oankali themselves have hierarchical tendencies. Consider the way the ooloi run the families. Or the fact that their relationship with humanity is so imbalanced -- I would call that a hierarchy with the Oankali on top. So, in very long answer to your question, I think the constructs (ooloi or not) are free of the Contradiction. It's those people on Mars I wonder about. And there are plenty of contradictions left unresolved on Earth at the end of the series. But that's what makes it *so* good. There's my two cents. I'd be interested to know what you think.
Negotiating Difference in Octavia Butler’s Adulthood Rites
Yeah, it sounds like the beginning of a 12-step program: "Hi, I'm Erika, and I like to read about alien sex."
Out of Control: Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories
@Susan: Agreed. I am not into vampire novels at all, and I loved Fledgling. She took fantasy and made it into SF.
Out of Control: Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild and Other Stories
I love the three stories you highlighted, Jo. I am re-reading Dawn right now, and it's striking how she deals with so many of the same issues in "Bloodchild": colonization, symbiotic relationships, negotiating partnerships ... not to mention awesome xenophilia. (No one writes alien sex like Butler.) "The Evening and the Morning and the Night" is brilliant, too, for the way she looks at disability as the flip-side of a special asset or ability, as the people with the genetic disorder have brilliant minds and, ironically, cure many forms of cancer. She does something similar in the Parable books with hyperempathy syndrome - giving Lauren access to amazing pleasure and pain. So smart.
The Heart is a Lonely Vampire Hunter
A Separate Piece of Me A Tale of Two Cyborgs Buried in this Good Earth
Effective dreaming: Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven
It's nice to see a review of this classic. I, too, am inspired to re-read it. I always thought Lathe of Heaven offered a great critique of utopias in general. She did that well with The Dispossessed, too, making utopia seem not all that utopian-ish. She acknowledges that trying to create the perfect society always involves some sort of loss or tradeoff, something I didn't see as much in, say, Woman on the Edge of Time, or the early female separatist stuff like Herland.
Jane Austen: SF and Monster-Lit 101
Austen and SF? It's like peanut butter and chocolate. Someone invents it and suddenly you wonder how you survived without it so long. Components sold separately, but oh so much better together.
James Jean “Kindling” opening
Thanks for the recommendation, Irene. I had not been familiar with Jean's work and took a chilly trek to the gallery after reading your post. I was very impressed.
Own a piece of Colonial history: Battlestar Galactica Auction Catalogue now live!
@4 I noticed that price discrepancy, too. Deservedly so. I can't decide what I want more, Kara's flight suit or or one of Roslin's power suits. Imagine wearing one of those to a job interview ... economic crisis be damned, how could they not hire you? Fantasy purchases could easily exceed the amount of grad school debt I'm taking on ...
A Super-Geeky Christmas List
Yep. Oplatek abounds. (And thanks for just teaching me how to spell that. That's up-WAH-tek, kids.) This was another ritual I had to learn. Everyone gets a big piece of this wafer, and you go around the room exchanging pieces with everyone else. And kissing and crying and telling everyone how awesome they are. Good times.
A Super-Geeky Christmas List
OK, the bubble wrap might win the geeky Christmas gadget award over the TV-be-gone. After all, it builds community (judging by the video), rather than alienating people ... as I can imagine could occur if you deprive strangers of their teevee.
Things (and people) to be thankful for:
I am especially grateful that we've made it to Thanksgiving without complete economic collapse. I anticipate next year I will be growing my holiday dinner in planters on my fire escape.
Let the Right One In: not your ordinary Swedish vampire film
I enjoyed this film so much I saw it twice in the theater -- something I almost never do. I am not too nervous about an American remake, mostly because the American director, Matt Reeves, was at the helm of Cloverfield, a movie I love. I'm interested to see what else he can draw out of what I have heard is a very rich novel. I only wish the original were playing at more theaters in the U.S. Americans are indeed subtitle-phobic!

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