Crake's placement at "Asperger's U" naturally begs the question of whether or not Atwood was implying that Crake had Asperger's Syndrome. Looking at Crake's mental offspring, I believe the answer to be "yes." While Crake's genetic modifications of humans into Crakers was ostensibly aimed at eliminating traits that would lead to long-term self-destruction or adding traits that increased survivability against wolvogs and the like, there seems to be another element.
In a world of billboards and ad spots, and more to the point, a world of product placement, growing ever more subtle, as demonstrated by Trans in Pattern Recognition, it seems that there's no way to understand Western culture without being so thoroughly exposed to advertising that corporate mores don't draw one in to a world where one is an object of the market. Who then, has the ability to objectively observe markets in action without abstracting them to the degree of economics?
There's an interesting construction of gender roles in Midnight Robber. Nalo Hopkinson seems to be paying a certain amount of lip service to the idea that in the future envisioned, people will be able to choose their roles and occupations regardless of gender. She accomplishes this sometimes by reference to olden times in which roles were more stratified, as when the eshu tries to explain to a confused Tan-Tan how once, women weren't allowed to play the Midnight Robber.
On page 57 of Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson describes the problem that the Black Sun staff has understanding Juanita's work as "sexism, the especially virulent type espoused by male techies who sincerely believe that they are too smart to be sexists." To some degree, it seems that he may be, intentionally or not, describing himself.
The use of different tenses to describe the different phases of Lore's life, as intertwined in Slow River, is clearly open to interpretation. To the degree that the last phase, chronologically, is the one in which first person is used, one might say that Lore simply identifies most with her current incarnation, and that the tale told from ten years further on would invoke the first person only for events later still. However, it seems possible that the use of third person reflects Lore's conscious dissociation from herself as she existed before the advent of Sal Bird the second.
The Oankali are a lot like Europeans/Americans.
There, I said it. Certainly, it's not the only metaphor that can be drawn from the relationship between Human and Oankali in Lilith's Brood, but it's an interesting one to look at. In light of the colonialist implications discussed in class, it's also one of the more obvious ones. There is, however, a defined parallel understanding of Human-Oankali relations with regard to race.
It's interesting that, in a book that goes so far to break out of gender relations as we know them, and which re-defines what male and female mean, we're confronted with a society in which the very different set of gender roles and norms is defined by the inserter of genetic material being highly dominant.
While my experience with this may not be universal, I found myself somewhat alienated by Genly Ai's perspective on the events he related. I was much more drawn in to the narrative on those occasions when it was related by Estraven. The factor that drew me out of Genly Ai's perspective was consistently his insistence on applying his particular conceptions of gender to the Gethenians he encountered. Estraven, unfettered by the need to place his world into inapplicable terms, is better able to focus in on the more flowing parts of hte story.
I've found myself often mulling my least favorite character in this novel: Janine. She's the only character in the book for whom the narrator expresses clear contempt. While she may quietly deride or ignore other figures in her life, Janine is the only person clearly within limits. Clearly, Offred is not alone in this. The prevailing sentiment at the Red Center is to "[treat] her the way people used t treat those with no legs who sold pencils on street corners (133)." Clearly, Janine is damaged.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the relationship of mind and body in the Neuromancer. Certainly, much of Case's interaction with the world, both cybernetic and physical, is governed by his longing for "the matrix" and his disgust toward meat-centric experience. Of particular interest to me is how his predisposition toward the purely cerebral plays out in his interactions with the three 'bodiless minds' of the story.