I just wanted to discuss the significance of Crake's decisions on how to modify humanity. It seems to me that, while his modifications were aimed at eliminating strife, the main result of his modifications were that he eliminated the part of humanity which causes strife, the main things he did was to eliminate the human capacity for progress. This emerges in his discussion with Jimmy about sex. Jimmy argues that by eliminating sexual frustration, he is eliminating art. I think this actually applies to nearly all human endeavors, including government, science, commerce, etc.
One of the key theme in Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake is the conflict between that which is empirically provable, and that which is a construct of the human mind. This manifests in a variety of ways: numbers vs. words, emotion vs. survival, art vs. science. The protagonist, Jimmy/Snowman, is wrapped up in this conflict, because he is an advocate of the side which believes in the intangibles of human nature, but he feels like his side is losing, or has lost, depending on whether we address him before or after the catastrophe.
I was just thinking about the discussion of how Cayce does or doesn't fit the role of the female in science-fiction in respect to how things happen to her vs her happening to things. I want to point out the fact that she transcends these categorizations in her professional life. On one level, she very much makes the world revolve around her, as just a simple yes or no qualifies the value of a Logo into which a lot of time and money has been put. However, it isn't quite her that does those things.
A significant theme in William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition" is the functionality of dysfunction. Cayce, as the protagonist, establishes this as an important subject. She is cursed/blessed with strong reactions to corporate logos. This sort of ability is frequently problematic for her. Some logos are so offensive that they stimulate a physiological reaction in her. Ultimately, her ability functioned like an allergy in her younger years. When she first saw the Michelin Man in a magazine when she was a child, she puked. And it still affects her that way.
I just wanted to comment on the time-space things that bothered me in Midnight Robber. I thought it was interesting how the two parallel worlds developed to be entirely the same, except in one, the humans colonized, and in the other, they didn't. It implies to me that there is something about humans which makes them extra-temporal. Somehow, everything but humans are constrained to carry out the same rolls in these two separate universes. To me, it implies that there is a physical and tangible aspect to human free-will.
I take issue with Nalo Hopkinson's portrayal of love in Midnight robber. In particular, I object to the way that the story of Antonio plays out. I acknowledge that he was always a clearly flawed character, but I didn't see him as someone who was beyond saving in the beginning of the book. In fact, I saw him as a uniquely empathetic character, in that he clearly loved his daughter. He may have been a sinister mayor, with a desire to keep secrets from Nanny and the public, but in the beginning, it seems like he is not all selfishness.
I really enjoyed this book, because, in large part, everything had a perfect degree of ludicrousness. Everything was so foreign, and so unexpected, yet, Neil Stephenson was able to make it believable, by basing the ideas in historic, scientific, sociological, or linguistic fact. However, this consistency made the advent of the metavirus very strange to me. He mentions briefly that the bitmap which is presented to the hackers and fries their brains was received from space. Somehow rife picked it up on radiowaves, but I don't get how that is even remotely sensible.
Power plays a very significant role in Snow Crash. With the fall of government, life has become radically unstable, with radically different expectations in terms of justice. Individual security no longer holds the significance that we are used to. The only way for an individual to ensure that violations of personal interests won't go unpunished is to tie those interests with the interests of a group, which means, in effect, to become a part of a franchise. This truth is expressed repeatedly in the book by both Y.T. and Hiro and the way they manage their individualism.
I use my second drop on this response.
I noticed today in class that the issue of excessive wealth hit some nerves on both the social justice and economist side of the thought spectrum. Some people were offended by the notion that someone who works just as hard as an executive (or some other high earner) could be living in squalor while that single executive could have so much money that he doesn't know what to do with it. Others seemed offended by the thought that people could hold that executive in contempt for earning so much money. I just want to add my two cents.