There was much talk--and there might easily have been more--about Pattern Recognition's being legible as a 9/11 novel. The event is manifestly significant for the novel plot-wise, but also to the extent that it informs the book's disrupted sense of history. It's interesting, then, that Oryx and Crake was conceived under similar circumstances--might it then be possible to read this book as a response to 9/11?
One of the things that struck me while reading Pattern Recognition is that it must be impossible to convincingly describe rapturous aesthetic experience. Or to represent an aesthetic work within an aesthetic work. I'm thinking of the "footage" in the novel and how basically unappealing it sounded to me whenever described.
I was watching "The Last Angel of History" this evening, and I spent the first fifteen minutes wondering "When are they gonna talk about Sun Ra? Why aren't they talking about Sun Ra? Who's George Clinton without Sun Ra?"
In class we talked about a couple different ways that Snow Crash analogizes issues of race: "thrashers" constitute an ethnic identity; hackers, too, have unique social identities as well as somewhat unique physiologies. In this response, I guess I just want to add another example, but it's one that I find particularly interesting: the figure of the "black-and-white person" within the Metaverse.
Point the first: eXistenZ equates its VR game with sodomy. Ted says he doesn't like to be penetrated; Allegra sexily lubes up his "tight" bioport before his "first time"; of course, when we get a look at the bioport, it looks like an asshole; then there's the really great bioport sex scene, in which Ted tongues Allegra's bioport, she responds with surprise, then arousal, then Ted, you know, fucks her in the bioport.
As a humanist leech, I sometimes feel left out of certain SF authors' visions of the future. In Starship Troopers, disciplines like philosophy are entirely ceded to the sciences--viz. the constant references to "mathematically verifiable moral truths." And this is to say nothing of the uses of mimetic representation--a curious absence, given that such visions of the future are made via a sort of mimetic representation. We talked in class about whether there was art on Gethen in The Left Hand of Darkness. In Lilith's Brood, Butler explicitly states that there isn't art among the Resisters.
The Left Hand of Darkness may be about gender, and it may be about weather, but it's also very clearly about the schism between words and real world referents.
The reader is introduced to THT's patronymic naming system via "newness" in the SF-specific, Huntingtonian sense. In the first section, we are clued in to the fact that something is awry in the book's world, naming-wise, by the sort of ominous catalogue of pedestrian Catholic school-girl-sounding names: "Alma. Janine. Dolores. Moira. June" (4).
I don't know whether anyone else read Ender's Game with Starship Troopers this semester--or had read it before--but I just read this interesting post on the Feminist SF blog--I was actually linked to it from Paper Cuts--about Orson Scott Card's winning the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which, I also learned, is some sort of important lifetime achievement award for YA lit. The thrust of the post is that Card is a horrible bigot and shouldn't be touted as a credible voice for young people.
The claim has been made that Neuromancer celebrates in a way previously unattested to in the annals of SF the existence of mind without body. While I am not wholly convinced of this, I think the secondary readings that we had this week offer a window to a reading that balances on the scales of class the consideration given by the novel to the possibility of thinking without feeling.