House of the Scorpion

As I’m reading through this book, I can’t help but to make allusions to just about every social issue in the world.  Animal rights, human cloning, organized crime, political corruption, stem cell therapy, slavery, etc…  At the same time, the book also deals with extremely complex maternal psychology.  Overall, the story is pretty fast paced, things happen progressively, very quickly.  Also, background information is dropped in once in a while through various occurrences.  One thing I really noticed, thought, was how important nuggets of information were being repeated over and over again.  This was probably one of the reasons why I was able to get through the reading so easily, this time.  Aside from the fact that it is a piece written for young adults.  What I’m getting at though, is that I really like the choice of setting that the author chose; because it allows for more simple call-backs.  That is, the technology in the book is obviously advanced, but us as readers only know as much as Matt finds out.  I don’t even think it’s really clear what time period the story even takes place is.

I thought that this was a very interesting dichotomy: how El Patron uses advanced medical techniques and technology to provide him with his unnatural life, but also keeps his Ranch exactly like his old village.  Although, the most interesting thing I found about that is: the cows.  Of all the animals to choose, why a cow?  Also, if the cows were rejecting the fetuses, why keep using them?  If El Patron had so much power and control, and he could implant chips into people to do whatever their masters told them, then why didn’t he use a bunch of eeijits as surrogates?  I’m guessing it’s to add on to the dehumanizing aspect in the beginning of the story where it’s really poured on, especially the idea that he doesn’t have actual parents, and I think it was Steven who said it but I’m not sure, that cows can’t give birth to humans, therefore Matt’s not a human?  I also thought the scene where Tan Lim makes his final goodbye is really cheesy, the “dirty little secret” line.  I guess it was important for Matt to find out, but wouldn’t he have realized it?  He’s supposed to be clever, and the kids or the maids couldn’t tell when they first found him.  That scene just killed Tan Lim for me, he was such a cool, bad ass before, oh well.

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Blindsight scene rewrite

“Focus Camera 3 just behind those benches” said Sarasti calmly, yet intensely focused.

“What for?  It’s just those kids pickin’ on that polly again.”  Responded the camera operator.

“Just do it.”

Who is this boy?  Just standing there, observing.  The way he looked at that inferior one… Why does he not help his friend in need?

“Who is that boy?”

“Oh him, that’s Robert Paglino.  His parents are one of those TwenCen wack jobs who doesn’t believe in ‘improving God’s handiwork’.  The kid has an uncontrolled genotype that they chose to go unfixed.  Shame really, he doesn’t stand a chance against those other boys.”  Spouted the operator.

“Not him.  Him.  This one is unaffected.”

“Siri Keeton, I think he’s buddy’s with that Paglino kid, they’re always hangin’ out, alone, together.  The kids call him ‘The zombie’, half of his brain is cut out.  Makes you wonder what price we’re really playing for perfection.”  Muttered the operator.

Interesting, I must keep an eye on this boy…

Holy shit!  Did you just see that?!?  Call a fucking ambulance!”  Exclaimed the operator.

“No, wait.  Let’s see where this goes.”

His brain has adapted well to the fix.  His agility and spacial intelligence are superb, yet there is something missing.  The way he just stood there, observing the situation.  No expression in his face whatsoever, how strange for a human.  It didn’t even look like he wanted to do anything.  But he still came to Paglino’s rescue; did he feel anything?

“Alright that’s enough!  Those kids need medical attention, NOW!  He just got his faced smashed in by that zombie!”

“Forget about those cowards.  Focus back in on Siri.”

What is that weakling yelling about?  He just got rescued by Siri.  He should be groveling at his feet, thanking him.  Is this what it’s like to have a friend?  Illogical humans…

“Oh shit!  He’s not finished yet!  Where the hell are all the adults!?”

“Don’t worry, he’s done, it is done.  Did you say these boys knew each other before Siri’s operation?”

“Yes… But how can you be so fucking calm, he nearly killed those other boys!”


So he is, in fact, re-adapting to his surroundings.  It was so obvious, the way he stood there watching, analyzing the situation, and acting according to what he thought was right thing to do, not what he felt it was.  He didn’t feel anything…

“Finally, some parents and medics.  Looks like a shit storm is brewin’ down there, someone needs to do something about that freak.  What he just did there… was so… inhuman…”

On the contrary, you foolish peon, what he just did was absolutely human.  It was just done in an inhuman way.

“Give the surveillance tape to the police, tell them everything.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?  I’m not gonna let that zombie get away with this, and possibly hurt another kid!  Are you listening to– where the fuck did he go?”


I chose the playground scene in the beginning of the novel.  I decided to do it in Sarasti’s point of view because there were hints of familiarity later in the book.  Also, the fact that there were surveillance camera’s at the playground intrigued me, and I thought this would be an interesting mix for a rehashing of this scene.  I tried to capture Sarasti’s logical attitude, while telling the scene, and also trying to get the “what is human?” question going a little more to make up for Siri’s actual thoughts from the book.

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“There was something like sympathy in the vampire’s voice, the practiced affectation of an accomplished mimic. There was something else, too, an all-but-imperceptible hunger, a subtle edge of temptation. I don’t think anyone heard it but me.” (113)

This quote appears after Isaac gets killed while exploring Rorschach.  It’s a very evocative, and unnerving, thought from Siri about Sarasti.  Throughout the novel, when the crew is alone, or thinks they are alone, they talk about Sarasti; how he is a vampire, and how vampires had evolved to become hunters, or “predators”.  I feel like Watts keeps foreshadowing future events with all these fears expressed by some of the crew.  Like when the crew goes out for the first time, Sarasti stays back, and then Siri thinks,

“They’re tricks of the mind, the same neurological smoke-and-mirrors that convinced people throughout the ages that they were being haunted by ghosts, abducted by aliens, hunted by—


—and you wonder whether Sarasti really stayed behind or if he was here all along, waiting for you…” (86).

Both of these times, Siri has the fear that Sarasti is just waiting to consume the crew, that there is some innate hunger, and desire to devour them that he is just holding back.  The seeds for this tension were planted when they first awoke; Sarasti’s was the only empty coffin, where had he been?  Also, there were replacement crew members on board from the beginning, a rather ominous precaution.  Isaac also mentions that the weakness of the vampires, a cross, might very well be curable; however, the absence of a cure suggests a sort of fail-safe, to ensure that the vampires don’t get too much power and take over.  This adds to the foreshadowing that some sort of event might occur later where this information will be of some use.

The tension itself is the really evocative part for me.  I can picture myself trapped inside a spaceship, in an already hostile environment, losing my mind from the “hallucinations”, and worrying about whether or not my captain wants to eat me.  The psychological impact of all that stress is overwhelming, it kind of reminds me of The Thing, or Blade Runner: their survival is kind of dependent on whether or not they can decipher who is really human.  For example, the Chinese room scenario, Susan figured Rorschach wasn’t a conscious being, and therefore wasn’t really conscious of their conversation, so they decided to land anyway, and we all know how that turns out…


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5 blogger footlong, any any any

So far, the most alien thing to me are the aliens.  Not because of the fact that they are aliens and, by definition, are alien to us; it’s because they lack a feature that I, as a human, put great emphasis on in reading emotion, drawing comfort from, and feeling a connection to: faces.  They have no facial features.  No eyes, ears, or nose; their faces are just flat and grey;  with the exception of the tentacles and throat hole?  It is surprisingly difficult to visualize the aliens without facial features.  Because when I think of an “intelligent” alien, I automatically picture something similar to a human form: a head, two arms, torso, and two legs.  However, eyes are something that are always different, like the classic big eyed aliens, or maybe multiple eyed aliens or something.  But, they always have eyes, and the mouth is more like it would be for a human, basically like the shape of Jdahya’s tentacles, except with more human-like features.

The aliens did share something that I see, and like, a lot in science fiction, dealing with aliens, and that is that they seem to be super intelligent.  However, the downside is that Lilith knows this too, and feels alienated even further, aside from the isolation from her species, when Nikanj takes her to its friends to examine her.  She feels like an animal in a zoo, or a pet, on display, to be “shown off”.  So, everything the aliens do to her, alienates her from her status as a human further and further.  These aliens are the most alienating aliens that ever alienated an alien!

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Brog 4

For this week’s blog I’d like to pose a question.  Why does Pirate seem so estranged from the rest of We3?  The first big difference that I noticed were the lost pet signs.  Bandit and Tinker both do not have anyone else in the picture besides themselves, while Pirate has two children posing in the picture with him.  Another interesting difference in the signs is that Pirate is the only one of the three who is outdoors, Bandit and Tinker are both inside a home.  Also, in the description on the sign, Pirate’s owners included that he liked “lettuce and carrots”, along with his physical description.  The other pets only have a name and brief physical description.

Another big difference between the signs is the fact that Bandit and Tinker both have some electronics in their pictures.  Bandit’s photo has a DVD player and a Playstation; Tinker’s photo includes a random boombox sitting on the floor halfway off the page.  Something very interesting I also noticed in Tinker’s photo was all the incense.  What’s the importance of the incense?

I think these could be very significant questions.  The lost pet signs do not chronologically  correlate with each current point in the story, they just appear at the beginning of each section.  They are also full page pictures, and either have a lot of seemingly unrelated objects, or none at all.  I find this intriguing because Bandit and Tinker’s pictures have so much in common, but Pirate’s has so many contrasts.  I think this could somehow relate to the fact that Bandit and Tinker seem to share the most interaction, and also Pirate is always getting hurt and ended up being the only one dead.  The part that gets to me most is the incense in Tinker’s photo, there are two incense holders in it, and they both have incense sticks in them, or had some burn out; and what looks like an open bag of loose tobacco.

A few other things to note: the handwriting gets more juvenile as the signs progress, Bandit has blue eyes, Tinker’s eyes are closed, and Pirate’s eyes are red, Bandit’s sign says “missing”, instead of “lost”, Bandit is the only pet for which a reward is offered, lastly, Bandit’s the only one the scientist reveals the true name of, however, his owner is the only one that did not list a name to reach with the number.

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Brog 3

Wow.  That was probably one of the worst movies I have ever seen.  I don’t get to say this often, as I’m not would you a call an avid reader, but the book was better.  What I really enjoyed more about the book was how it constantly built tension throughout.  I was probably desensitized from pretty much knowing what was going to happen in the movie, however, there were so many times when I thought to myself, “Huh?”.  That, along with what seemed to me as just throwing in lines from the original for information’s sake, really threw me off from the movie’s plot.  The lines I’m talking about are very important, like when Blair talks about the alien assimilating, but they seemed to have just come out of nowhere, just to drop that nugget for later.  My problem is that it was done so blatantly, unlike the book, which was more subtle and strategic.  I feel like the book delved deeper into the psyches of the people there, as well as more interesting theories and conclusions as to how the alien thinks and works.  The movie aliens were just so cheesy, and unlike anything I pictured from the book.  The book painted a picture of a fierce, intelligent life form that was extremely sophisticated.  Whereas the movie alien was just a grotesque, primitive killing machine.  The thing that pissed me off the most though was the ending.  The ending of the book left you with a feeling of wonder and amazement.  Atomic power thingies and anti-gravity packs made out of random materials sounds much more profound and interesting than just some spaceship.  Anyways, here’s my conclusion:  book good, movie bad.

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My Second Brog

I am happy to say that, after reading this book for the third time, I still enjoyed Shelley’s writing, probably even more so this time.  I guess I really never noticed before how she can dive so deep into her characters.  By the end of the book, I had flip flopped a bunch of times on which character I sympathized with more: Frankenstein or his monster.

The interesting part about this conflict was that the monster is in fact, a monster.  However, Shelley humanizes the monster so well that it makes him believable.  His eloquent speech and intelligence gives us something to respect, while his size and appearance still give us something to fear.  But what makes him believable are his basic human desires and expectations.  She does it so well that I think if she just gave him a name, readers would forget that he was a monster; and might even sympathize with him more.  In fact, it was probably done on purpose so that we did end up conflicted by the end of it, challenging our moral views.

I especially enjoyed the monster’s rebuttal towards Walton at the end of the story where he asks, “And do you dream?… do you think that I was then dead to agony and remorse?… Think ye that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?  My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy…”  It’s really cool to see where Frankenstein and the monster show both their human and inhuman sides.  One side is driven by love, compassion, beauty, and nature.  While the other side is madly driven by self loathing, revenge, ugliness, and the abomination of nature.

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Blog entry 1

It’s really hard for me to think of Frankenstein as a science fiction piece.  I’ve always thought of it as some sort of gothic thriller or something.  I mean, there are scientific elements and mentions throughout the book, especially pertaining to the main conflict of the book.  However, Dr. Frankenstein got his start, and to his own admittance this was part of his journey to his fate, through studying alchemy and other ancient disproven sciences.  His own father and Krempe were even calling it magic.  I feel like that  fact alone gives this story more of a fantasy type of feel.

The reason I feel this way is because, to me, the fact that he studied those books and used them as a jumping point to his discovery essentially makes it so the reader has to believe in a little bit of magic to accept this as a possibility.  I think V. Frankenstein even says somewhere that only through his own experiences and journey through knowledge was he able to figure out the secret of life.  I guess there is a scientific basis for how his experiment actually works, however there’s a tinge of mysticism tied in with all of it, and I think that once magic gets involved, the story crosses the line into fantasy.

The Poetics article talks about cognitive estrangement, I think this novel is on the bubble between too much and just enough.  There’s certainly enough transition into the actual study of natural philosophy, as they call it, to make it believable that Dr. Frankenstein, if he were brilliant enough, could come up with such a discovery; after all, he did work with dead bodies on the regular.  Even still, I think the inclusion of the likes of Agrippa and Magnus were to prepare the reader for something not quite so scientific.  Which again, in my humble opinion, discredits this book as pure science fiction.

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