Snowman is one of the most heartbreaking characters I have encountered in fiction. Within the first few chapters, with no knowledge of Snowman's history or even personality, I felt such pity for him. He can do nothing but waste away in his loneliness and gloom. While the character of Jimmy is hardly a vision of integrity, he is a good person. He is a confused, insecure man whose soul has been scarred since the day his mother disappeared.
In class on Monday, the issue of genre classification was discussed at length. The question was posed as to whether "Pattern Recognition" should be read as a science fiction novel. A glance over Gibson's previous works would have one believe that indeed, "Pattern Recognition" is a piece of science fiction genius, similar to "Neuromancer." Besides the obvious observation that "Pattern Recognition" differs greatly in style and plot from "Neuromancer," I would also argue that they do not fit in the same genre.
During the student led discussion on Monday the issue of Asian representation in Snow Crash was brought up. The concern was voiced that depicting Asians as a single race was reverting back to when Westerners refused to differentiate between Asians. While in many attempts the book does reject stereotypes, there are still unyielding definitions of race. While I wholly agree that these are legitimate observations, I feel that Stephenson made the subversive decision to not distinguish between any of the races.
When reflecting on "Slow River," everyone is obviously interested in what the book has to say about identity. Lore constantly struggles with her inability to ever truly inhabit one of her three characters. "I slept for nine hours and woke up feeling stiff and sore, as though my body had tried to rearrange itself physically to fit three people inside one skin. (294)" The persona of Bird seems rather insignificant to me because while this is the PIDA Lore has adapted, she never really replaces Bird's place in the world.
While reading "Imago," I was continually struck by the growing resemblances between the Oankali and Humans. And I am not referring to the Humans that lived with Oanklai, but rather the Humans who had refused to assimilate with the aliens. I first noticed an Oankali acting uncharacteristically human when Jodahs and his family must leave their village. Nikanj has to be assured that Lilith brought her machete. Jodahs narrates, "It could not have gotten more attention if it had screamed. I focused on it to the exclusion of everything, felt pulled around to face it.
Throughout my reading of "Dawn," I found myself torn between where my sympathies should lie. The Oankali seemed compassionate enough and Lilith's relationship with Nikanj struck me as genuine and surprisingly not creepy. And yet it is difficult to trust the motives of a group of creatures that put humans asleep for centuries and then keep them trapped in a ship. There were moments when Lilith's resistance annoyed me and then at other times I was shocked by her ability to cohabitate with these seemingly grotesque features.
Neuman's article "Just a Backlash" forced me to do a closer reading of the various representations of feminism in The Handmaid's Tale. I was most taken aback by Atwood's strong resistance to being labeled a feminist. While she fittingly points out that "No one who observes society can fail to make observations that are feminist" (858), she is also quick to critique the more extreme form of feminism.
As general the topic may be, at the end of the novel, I was most aware of its gender representations. The fact that Case is a cowboy and Molly a street-samurai sets the stage for a paradoxical and certainly complex relationship between genders. The traditional cowboy belongs to a vast, unexplored frontier with horses and Native Americans with rifles. In the case of the street-samurai, I envision a grittier existence that requires a strong sense of street knowledge. Upon their meeting, it is established that Case is a self-deprecating drug addict who needs the help of dominant Molly.
The fact that Starship Troopers is on the reading list for four of the five military academies is certainly not surprising. The book is the story of a man who finds enlightenment through his progression in the military. Johnny discovers that one must make personal sacrifices in order to be a citizen. It is a privilege that one must be willing to die for. With that said, I find it difficult to recognize any true change in the character of Johnny. Yes, he is wiser in the military trade and can regurgitate what he has been told to be true. But Johnny remains little more than a soldier.