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DryaUnda's Musings

A memetic device for world domination

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August 3rd, 2007

Cambridge University Press has agreed to destroy all unsold copies of a 2006 book by two American authors, "Alms for Jihad," following a libel action brought against it in England, the latest development in what critics say is an effort by Saudis to quash discussion of their alleged role in aiding terrorism.

In a letter of apology to a wealthy Saudi businessman, Sheikh Khalid Bin Mahfouz, Cambridge University Press acknowledged that allegations made in the book about his family, businesses, and charities were "entirely and manifestly false." The publisher wrote, "Please accept our sincere apologies for the distress and embarrassment this has caused."
Bush and bin Laden don't scare me, but this does. there is one consolation though:
Libel law in England is more advantageous to the litigant than is American law, which has stronger First Amendment protections.
Let's just say that's both an affirmation and a challenge.

July 28th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 7

Some wonderful sarcasm from bellatrys last Wednesday:
Silly fanperson! Don't you know that we mere lowly members of the Caste of Readers are not *allowed* to laugh at our professional betters of the Caste of Published Writers, that we don't have the *right* to point out their too-frequent tropes, literary faux-pas, and apparent obsessions, but are merely supposed to accept the Gifts they bestow on us with chants of praise?
    Subchapters: Roses, Pixyland Jazz, Sveltana, Purring


    The next two subchapters are more backstory of Oryx: porn diva, and very unremarkable. Ironically enough, chapter 6 has been the easiest part of the book to read so far; Margaret's actually pleasant to read when she's just objectively describing a scene, but as soon as Jimmy opens his mouth my brain starts to hurt. He gives a brief Platonic dialogue about how not everything, like Love, has a price. He mentally bitches a bit about "math nerds." He gets jealous of Oryx and Crake doing things without him. There are only so many times I can write variants of "Jimmy/Snowman angsts" without wanting to dump these sporkings altogether.

    Snowman eats, Snowman angsts, DryaUnda knows how Mom felt when she read jack London. Snowman's starving to death. Starve faster, Snowman! Snowman cynically reminices yet again. Snowman goes foraging in an abandoned Module (always capitalized). Snowman actually feels pangs of guilt for being such a crappy caretaker, they always do when they conviently feel it's too late to solve their self-created problems.

    Along the way to get some food, we learn that the Craker males have been designed to mark their territory. This parahuman musking keeps away preditors and gives the men something to do, important since Crake didn't plan on civilized activities for his master race.

    Crake did, however, design his Children to heal minor wounds by purring, "he'd discovered that that the cat family purred at the same frequency as the ultrasound used on bone fractures and skin lesions and were thus equipped with their own self-healing mechanism[.]" News to me, but the search terms 'purring ultrasound' don't look like something she just made up. I'll have to bring up purring with the Mythbusters. However, splicing in "cat genes" won't cause catlike characteristics to express themselves, even counting the false starts. "One of the trial batch of kids had manifested a tendancy to sprout long wiskers and scramble up the curtains[.]" No, no, no! Think of organisms as made up of lots of little machines, genes code for little machines, not "catness". To get a cat, you need to put together certain kinds of little machines in a certain kind of way.

    We learn about this purring when one of the Children has a quick chat with Snowman. Abraham Lincoln -- Snowman named the Crakers after historical big names for kicks -- talks about a kid who was recently injured, and how the women would hold an apology ceremony for the rocks they threw at the bobkittens. Snowman feels so damn smug that Crake didn't eliminate the neuroanatomy that begat religiosity, "take out too much in that area and you got a zombie or a psychopath." What-the-fuck-ever.

    Look, Crake also quadrupled the parahuman's maturity rate since "[f]ar too much time was waster in child-rearing, Crake used to say." Eeeeeeeeeeeeeevil. Look, Crake designed his lab-spawn to live on nothing but grass and eat their own poo! Eeeewwwww! Disgusting? Disgust is illogical, says Atwood's purile strawmanCrake. For the one time in this so-called story I find myself agreeing with Jimmy. Oh, also, if Crake doesn't care about aesthetics than why'd he give his creations perfect bodies?

    Back to the actual so-called-story, the poo-eating parahumans want to tag along with Snowman, who feeds them a line of shit that isn't theirs. He then tots off, angsting, being jealous of Crake, and arguing with the voices in his head.

    The voices in my head tell me to contemplate something easier on my mental health, like Bratz fanfiction.

July 24th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 6

    No preamble today, still recovering fatigue points from Potter binge. I'd give details but GURPS doesn't have mechanics for mental fatigue points. Maybe they could be tied to general fatigue?

    Subchapters: Bottle, Oryx, Birdcall


    We left off confirming that Snowman is a petty, impulsive little shit; this subchapter is more of the same. He can't sleep, and the singing of the Crakers, like just about everything else, makes him feel sorry for himself. Crakersong is "beyond the human level, or below it. As if crystals are singing, but not that, either. More like ferns unscrolling -- something old, carboniferous, but at the same time newborn, fragrant, verdant." So the Crakers are lemon-scented Elves, with Tamaranian eyes.

    Being the resourceful hero he is, Snowman goes off to drown his sorrows. See, Snowman's been passing the time juicing up on any alcoholic liquid, "not a wise or mature thing for him to have done, granted, but what use are wisdom and maturity to him now?", and right now he's seeking out a third of Scotch he cached in subchapter one. Why care about the future? It's the end of the world!

    While boozing up, wallowing in his own self-pity, and howling at the moon, Snowman sees some wolvogs padding around. What are wolvogs? A cross between wolves and dogs. Maggie must've only been doing research by glancing at news sites, the more shocking the better, since she didn't seem able to look up "wolf dog hybrid". Given the tone of this book so far, Atwood's probably intimating wolvogs as yet another disaster of mad science. Truth is we've been breeding wolfdogs for quite a while now, making them no more zomygodMADSCIENCE!1!! than mules.

    She does describe wolfdogs accurately though; cunning predators out of a horror movie. Why doesn't Critchton write a made-for-Hollywood book about wolfdogs? My guess is that there's a taboo against negative depictions of dogs. Also, it'd probably be harder for Jeff Goldblum to play the self-rightous know-it-all who respects the Natural Order to give a Platonic dialogue against dog breeding with a straight face.

    While drinking and ranting about ill-remembered reference books, Snowman angst and reminisces about Oryx. I'm now at chapter 6, subchapters 17-20, which is all Oryx's backstory. It's a dispassionate account of a child prostitute that may as well've been pasted from a template. Oryx is likewise dispassionate regarding her own life story. I'm actually not really bothered by the generic nature of The Story of [INSERT NAME HERE] but can't keep from noting it. I like -- yes, something in this book I actually like -- the dispassionate nature of the tale. Well, mostly dispassionate since Margaret's unsubtle hints show up here as they do everywhere else.

    Since we're talking the child sex trade here, sly digs are actually warranted, unlike genetic engineering which is a crime only in the eyes of the beholder. Now that I think about it, devoting a whole chapter to pedo-sex slavery in a book bemoaning genetic engineering may well be a deliberate symbolic compare-and-contrast. Unless I really am reading too much into what I'm reading, which I doubt since novels are infamous for being symbolic, Atwood's saying that genetic engineering is analogous to child prostitution; ultimately, the theme and fears here are of being made a commodity.

    In addition to being small-boned, Oryx "had a triangular face -- big eyes, small jaw -- a Hymenoptera face, a mantid face, the face of a Siamese cat. Skin of the palest yellow, smooth and translucent, like old, expensive porcelain[;]" the stereotypical Asian beauty, in other words. Her early childhood was in a rural village out in the boonies of Asia. The weather was bad for crops, the men were dying of chain smoking, and there was no way of making money but occasionally selling some kids to the local flesh trader, who'd chat with the locals and hand out fresh packs of cigarettes. We also get a blow-by-blow account of Oryx's shipment, with surprising little gross description. It's hot and lonely trekking through the jungle, and the kids get no toilet privacy. It's all very non-wangsty, letting the facts speak for themselves. Is this a deliberate juxtaposition with Jimmy/Snowman's petty wants, symbolizing how we care more about our own vices that real suffering? Have political postmodernists and literati driven me to see double meaning like a high-functioning schizophrenic?

    There probably won't be much to say about chapter 6 since you can find identical accounts in the Web. Personally, I think Batman: the Ultimate Evil does a better job handling the child sex trade. I'll leave you with another tidbit from life of Crake: Anitchrist. Crake says that believing in an afterlife makes humans blase about environmental destruction, but it's written in such a way to make it look like atheism is no different than nihilism. Belief in the afterlife is hope; how could you be against hope? The same way I'm against every other grab at my heartstrings. It's not enough for Good to be dumb, it has to be annoying too? No wonder so many fools turn to Evil.

July 21st, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 5

    I don't think Atwood likes RTS games, since she gives them droll and dysphemistic names to show how trivial they are and how they trivialize man's inhumanity to man and isn't it awful how it warps the minds of The Children. I don't think my mini-rant misrepresents her, given the tone of the rest of this book. Sex slavers aren't the only ones exploiting kids, and you know it. Speaking of which...

    Subchapters: HottTotts, Toast, Fish


    We get some more exposition, this time about Crake's life. His mom's a cold workaholic and his Uncle sneaky Pete is really an evil stepdad. Also, JImmy gives a literary quotation so we know how cultured our hero is. He has the attitude of Brainy Smurf... Never mind that, on to the kiddie porn!

    After a brief mention of creepy old guys cruising the slums for teen clubs, we get brief mentions of the websites Jimmy and Crake visit on Uncle's dime, very brief. "They went to Tart of the Day, which featured elaborate confectionary in the usual orifices, then went to Superswallowers; then to a russian site that employed ex-acrobats, ballerinas, and contortionists." Crake says "Whoever said a guy can't suck his own?" so the reader knows he's callous 'n evil 'n stuff. The narrator says "the high-wire act with six flaming torches was pretty good, but they'd seen things like that before."

    In Limyaael's villain rant, point #3 states "Avoid the token signals that are supposed to act as flashing neon signs of EVIL." I'd include child porn in with "torturing people just for the hell of it" because Limyaael's rant on fantasy of excess (Now, I'm being like Brainy Smurf...) tells us a bit in point #1 about Doctor Draken Rahl raping and gutting children, for no other reason than removing any uncertainty that one side is Evil. Atwood's villain is technological progress, and the world of the future has teens jaded on child porn.

    So now we're at HottTotts, which is a bunch of R@ygold-style clips from sex tourists from "countries where life was cheap and kids were plentiful, and where you could buy anything you wanted." It's not told if Jimmy's country is one of these places; yeah, I caught that intentional ambiguity. Anyway, Jimmy sees Oryx, who's maybe eight and "small-boned and exquisite," and immediately crushes on her. We then get some description of the kids looking scared and sad while fucking and sucking off (literal) whipped cream. Jimmy goes ga-ga when Oryx looks at the camera, then has Crake print out a still for him.

    The last part of this subchapter looks like some foggy word-mash of an older Jimmy talking to Oryx and Snowman talking to the Oryx voice in his head. The Oryx the older Jimmy is talking to may not be the one he saw in his youth. Was I too abrupt and ambiguous? So's Margaret when she's being an artiste, I hate it when writers do this.

    Hey, it's Snowman again, and he's found some glowing rabbits. He's like to snack on one but can't because they're sacred to Oryx. See, Snowman's made up a creation story to keep the Kids of Crake from bugging him too much. Short version: Crake made the parahumans, Oryx gave birth to the animals. Snowman then wishes on a star, gets all cynical, and takes a nap...

    ...only to be woken up by some curious kids. Snowman has another cynical reminiscence about a book he may have read, then tells the Children that they'll "be toast" if they don't shut up. They ask what "toast" is to which Snowman says it's bad and indescribable and to go away. He doesn't give them the real answer because angst over not being able to describe toast, because he'd need to describe bread, then flour, and so on and on and on. Really, Jimmy, telling kids who won't stop asking "Why?" about the long-long-ago is a much better way to spend your time than moping.

    Now we get more detail on the basic anatomy of the Crakers. Again, we're told they have every human skin tone, which we could just be shown given how often the Children show up. They're of varying heights but with ideally proportioned bodies out of a Bowflex ad, none of which turn Snowman on because he prefers imperfect women with sad lives who needed him; he'd kiss the flaws as boo-boos and wait for the thank-you nookie.

    While eating a fish he conned the Crakers, apparently pure herbivores, into catching for him, we find out the Crakers have only green eyes because they're bioluminescent. We're sort-of shown that they sweat bug repellent, with the kids smelling like citrus and Snowman moving into the fire smoke. We're told explicitly that the kids're fond of repetition, in case showing us through their speech wasn't enough.

    The kids want to hear the creation story again, so Snowman obliges. Short version: in the beginning, there was chaos. Then, Crake got rid of the chaos, and saw that it was good. While the kids eat it up, Snowman muses on another reason he made up the myths: to spite the atheistic Crake. While he wangsts over why they don't worship him, feeling sorry for himself (he sure does this a lot) not making the myths more self-serving to begin with, I'm wonder if the author wants me to cheer him (for sharing her politics) or jeer him (for proving some cynical point about human nature). Atwood sure loves liberally seasoning her propaganda with subtlety and ambiguity.

    When the kids want more stories, Snowman tells the kids to go away again, then thinks about making Crake look like a devil. Jimmy really is abominable.

July 19th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 4

    Some things that stand out to me:

    • We're far enough in the future that kids know enough anatomy to keep up with my Mom at her most pedantic; later, you'll see some gene-splicing in a high school class. Technology elsewhere doesn't seem to have advanced at all though; CD-ROMs aren't a legacy technology, video conferencing seems a non-entity in this story, and the security guards haven't been replaced by robots. The guards can't be keeping their jobs because of lobbying since...

    • ...the professional classes, who pine for the good-'ol-days on p.63, lament their low political power. Yes, yuppies with little influence either as members of a lobby or as shareholders. Some of them do join the rebels though, which doesn't seem much safer than civil disobedience. Add to this something I didn't pick up on right away: the surveillance. Kids are taught to make bugs in class, Jimmy's mom accused the help of spying, and we find out later that there's a camera in the bathroom. When I read the question in the Reader's Guide how Oryx and Crake was like 1984 it instantly added up for me: Margaret's doing an end run to our literary limbic system. Here's a question for you, Margaret: If disloyalty is so well known, what with Jimmy's hand-puppet shows in the bugged school and all, why isn't Big Brother doing anything about it?

    But what do I know? I'm just in denial of the MAN!

    Subchapters: Crake, Brainfrizz


    kippurbird wanted Crake described in more detail, now describe I shall. First, his birth name's Glenn but "Crake" describes his real personality, kinda like the difference between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Crake showed up a few months before Psycho Mom ran off, and she wished Jimmy were more mature like him. Of course, Jimmy knows better.

    We get a bit of exposition about how kids move in and out of compounds and how friendship was subject to chance and isn't it so awful? For all that she tells rather than shows, Margaret doesn't come right out and say how she really feels. Passive-aggressive behavior is just as annoying in literature as it is in person. Anyway, it seems the future still doesn't have picture phones.

    Jimmy briefly lusts after another teacher the boys call Melons, and we finally get a description of Crake. "Straight brown-black hair, tanned skin, green eyes, a half-smile, a cool gaze." He's tall and slender, and wears dark clothes without logos or catch-phrases. Crake's also just too cool; the kids enjoy his attention, the teachers enjoy his attention, he's the smartest kid in class, and is always in control of himself and the situation. He's so obviously the Antichrist. I like him already.

    Jimmy gives Crake the school tour, mentions the bathroom's camera in the vent to keep kids from toking up. Crake only says he's unimpressed with the chemlab. Jimmy wishes Crake weren't so damn cool, but offers to hang out with him which Crake accepts. We given some spiel about how there's nothing to do in the Compounds but everyone's so free in the pleblands. Ah, yes, the cyberpunk cities that're too dangerous to live in but so wonderful to live in 'cause there's freedom, showing that the word "freedom" was throughly abused long before POTUS v.43.2.

    So now Jimmy's lusting after a jockette he's scared of, hoping to foist her on Crake, when he spots his teacher, Melons, seemingly being fondled by a guy she's with. Jimmy asks Crake if Melons's guy friend has his hand on her butt, Crake gives the brains PLUS thesaurus MINUS social skills-kind of answer that just screams anti-intellectualism. This sort of thing was discussed in the Left Behind Archives regarding Carpathia, the literal Antichrist. Carpathia charmed a roomful of UN delegates by reciting a list of member countries. The general impression was that of Jenkins and LaHaye assuming anyone with more education than an AA to be some sort of trivia-obsessed pedant. this also relates to point #4 in Limyaael's genius rant. Jimmy thinks Crake's answer is good deadpan humor so isn't too bothered by it.

    We're told a bit about how everyone's in slight fearful of Crake, how Crake's genius at Nanotech Biochem -- a high school class, and how Crake hates to lose (ooooooo, foreshadowing!). The we get into the details of the games that kids play.

    While playing chess, Jimmy asks why they don't play with a real set. Crake -- and anybody with any sense, really -- says the real set is in your head, to which Jimmy says is "bogus." Jimmy likes perusing old DVDs (HINT!, HINT!)

    We next read about Barbarian Stomp, which is a RTS wargame pitting historical civilizations against peoples who'd be grouped as barbarian invaders. You could customize the game all you wanted provided you used historical groups. Jimmy learns about the Petchenegs from a CD-ROM of the 1957 edition Encyclopedia Britannica, driving home how Jimmy's a free thinker who appreciates history and doesn't blindly accept what the Man tells him. Crake says JImmy made that up, so we don't forget that Crake's an eeevil modernist. Really, Jimmy and Crake were looking for obscure parings and Petchenegs vs. Byzantium was what Jimmy came up with. Crake got Byzantium by coin flip, and got slaughtered by the Petchenegs. Crake doesn't want to play Barbarian Stomp anymore, because he's evil like that.

    Next we look at Blood and Roses, which looks like a fascinating game. In short, it's a game of Good vs. Evil pitting historical atrocities vs. achievements, which could be used to attack the other side or cancel each other out. Values are given for the good and bad things of history, I bet this is supposed to make us shudder.

    Snowman reminisces about the game a bit, hears voices again, and we're back to Jimmy

    Jimmy tells Crake he doesn't understand why anyone would want to play the evil side, and he's having nightmares about the game that he's not telling Crake, so they go to a new game, "which was fine with Crake because he was into something new[.]" *thunk* That's the Barbed Sledgehammer of Subtle Hinting hitting the reader in the head. Anyway, Jimmy and Crake are now playing Extinctathon, which is really 20 Questions but extinct animals over the last 50 years. Crake chooses screennames for both him and Jimmy, *thunk*, and continues to go by Crake instead of Glenn. Mind you, the reader never really knows him as Glenn anyway.

    When not playing wargames, they peruse the dark side of the Web. Atwood gets into real rare form here. There's live open-heart surgery, Noodie News, animal snuff sites, some news site that's really an excuse to flash-bang in a HINT! about how oh-so-1984 the world is becoming, live beheadings in Asia, live behandings in the Middle East, gaudy and commercialized American executions, and assisted suicides as tear-jerkers. Crake thinks most everything is either scripted or digitally altered, tells Jimmy "you never know [...] What is reality?" Crake finds the assisted suicides "hilarious" while Jimmy sees parallels between suicide, his Mom leaving, and some parrot character from an edutainment game he played as a kid. It's supposed to be deep and symbolic of Jimmy's abandonment issues.

    while watching a chesty camwhore read Shakespeare, we learn that Crake doesn't like the Bard. Not liking the classics is right there with child rape, which we'll get into next subchapter, as a look-how-EVIL-the-villian-is!!1! cliche. I'm neutral about Shakespeare, except for Henry III which was pure Tudor toadying.

    We snap back to Snowman, musing over the carnality of it all, and we flash back to Jimmy again.

    Jimmy and Crake are toking up on cut skunkweed stolen from Crake's Uncle Pete and watching cyberporn on sneakyUncle Pete's credit card, with Crake's l33t haxxor skills covering for the two. Crake decides what to watch on his computer and when to stop, cause he's evil like that. All of the pot porn and snuff make Jimmy woozy but don't seem to affect Crake's Antichrist cool.

And we're done for today. Stay tuned for the next subchapter, HottTotts!

(It's a good thing writing all this is getting easier.)

July 18th, 2007

I'm looking for a place specifically designed for "here's my fic, tell me what you think." To be precise, a place specifically for fanfic review and criticism. Where could I go?

No, ff.net doesn't count, smartass.

July 17th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 3

    reverie_shadow linked to an essay about flashbacks which basically states "don't do it, it mucks up character development." Flashbacks do seem appropriate for Oryx and Crake since they give an evocative contrast between the Then and the Now. Besides, cautionary tales usually can't get any worse, being more about puppets and propaganda than chareacters and stories.

    Subchapters: Downpour, Rakunk, Hammer


    So, Snowman's woken up by a rainstorm and takes a new shelter under a crumbling overpass, grimly musing on the irony of an intact Men at Work sign. He wangsts again briefly and that's the end of both pages of Downpour.

    Now we're back to Jimmy, he's ten and things have gotten sucker with his parents. Snowman doesn't remember what Dad looked like, which is just as well since he's not a real character but a garish prop. Jimmy angsts about his parents not remembering his birthday, then muses on his present: a "rakunk," a cross between a racoon and a skunk -- with temperament and musk worked out, obviously. This rakunk was the runt of the first litter, which is supposed to be very symbolic. Jimmy's told by Dad that he went to a lot of trouble to get the critter for him, but the way it's written the Narrator practically says "Jimmy's dad was a corporate bully who only got the the pet as a status symbol!"

    Narrator then gives a large paragraph of exposition about the folks at OrganInc playing create-an-animal, "[it] was so much fun, said the guys doing it; it made you feel like God." (Emphasis mine.) If I were a mad scientist, I'd make chimeric pets because they be cool, and I'd train them to attack anyone putting hoary cliches into my mouth.

    Jimmy angsts about Dad being fake, Mom mopes and says she isn't caring for the pet, and Jimmy goes up to play with his new rakunk, Killer.

    A month later, Jimmy's dad, who still doesn't have a name, and his co-worker friend, Ramona, get recruited by NooSkins and move to the HelthWyzer Compound. Sharon, Jimmy's mom, complains that the evil security detail are ruder and prone to sexually harassing strip searches, "women especially." Dad brushes it off, so the readers don't forget what a jerk he is. The security's necessary, he says, since a few weeks before moving in a terrorist sprayed a guard with a biowarfare agent that "dissolved [him] into a puddle of goo." Sharon insists that the housecleaners are spying on them. Jimmy likes his new school though.

    At NooSkins pigoons are grown to create youthful skin cells designed to consume and replace old skin. This has obvious medical spin-offs but they don't get mentioned since that'd detract from the Message. "What well-to-do and once-young, once-beautiful woman or man, cranked up on hormonal supplements and shot full of vitamins but hampered by the unforgiving mirror, wouldn't sell their house, their gated retirement villa, their kids, and their soul to get a second kick at the sexual can?" (If that quote doesn't bring in the lurkers than nothing will.) The price for this are dozens of test subjects who've sign away their legal rights for free beta versions, "peeling in ragged strips." The sporking just writes itself in this section, and I'm only halfway through! My mom, who isn't a neurotic chain smoker like Jimmy's mom, ask why NooSkins didn't apply the cells to the buttocks, or even test them on animals.

    Speaking of Sharon, she gets into rare form here. Nameless Dad comes home a bit drunk on celebratory champagne: NooSkins has grown human neo-cortex tissue inside a pigoon. Jimmy's mother, and Atwood's sockpuppet, is not at all happy, "More people with the the brains of pigs. Don't we have enough of those already?" Sharon, human brain tissue doesn't alchemically absorb essence of pig when it's grown in a pig host. Sharon should know this since she used to be a biotechnologist too.

    Dad gets fed up with Mom's constant negativity, remember that this has been going on for at least five years, and they have a big argument. Sharon says the prices are too high and that Dad used to have ideals, Dad says he still does but can't afford them. Sharon says growing human brains in pigs is sacrilegious, Dad gets angry and tries to talk sense to Sharon but she dismisses him, "I'm familiar with the theory." Where have we heard "theory" used derisively before? Dad says his job is paying for the place, Sharon says that she'd rather he dig ditches so his conscience would be clean. Dad calls Sharon a hypocrite for funding the tobacco companies with her chain-smoking, Sharon's excuse is that she does it because she's depressed. Hubby depresses her, Jimmy depresses her... I'd transcribe the whole thing but you can see it for yourself here, just click on "Search inside another edition of this book" (under the thumbnail) and do a search for "sacrilegious;" you'll want to end up on page 57.

    Jimmy goes up to his room, wangsts about parents being fakey and not wuving him, and relaxes to Killer licking his feet.

    Now we move forward in the flashback to Jimmy at 15, doing pretty good for himself in high school. He's resigned about his parents, and so fed up with them that he entertains his classmates with hand-puppet parodies of Mom and Dad. The classmates offer suggestions for Jimmy based on their own broken homes, which is supposed to be another clever hint. Jimmy feels guilty about his puppet shows, which are on p.60 and also must-see-to-believe, too-quotable-to-pass-up, but-I-can-only-write-so-much-before-going-crazy(er).

    Not as crazy as Jimmy's mom, who smashed the computers, stole liberated Jimmy's pet, and ran away from home. She left him a note so cliched that Margaret didn't bother writing most of it, replacing most of it with "blah blah." Yes, I know this is probably supposed to be written from Jimmy's perspective, but Jimmy/Snowman and the omniscient narrator are practically one and the same, this is bad. A narrator is supposed to describe, objectively, what there is and what's being done; basically, what the narrator say is truth. If the narrator holds the opinions of the main character, or the author, then we're just being preached at. Also, domestic animals released into the wild do about as well as the proverbial pretty-boy-in-prison, and Jimmy knows this. Yes, the feral rakunks are doing well as a species, but how many died in dominance fights earlier? Sharon seems to see animals as people, but she obviously loathes people treated in a utilitarian manner -- then does exactly that with Killer.

    There's a whole page of wangst (p.63) about how everything was sooo much better in the good-'ol-days than the cesspool of cyberpunk cliches they live in, the CorpSeCorps interview Jimmy about his mother, and Jimmy goes all emo.

Ramona, co-worker of Jimmy's still-nameless dad, has now moved in with JImmy; apparently much more than just a friend to Dad, who's implied that he's had an affair with her for some time. I'm supposed to hate Jimmy's dad* but, unlike my father, he neither shied away from spending time with his kid, nor left his family in a financial lurch, so fuck you, Margaret. Snowman blames Jimmy's parents, Jimmy misses his birth-mother a bit, and we end with Snowman being all emo.

*(No, I don't endorse cheating husbands, he should've divorced Sharon like anybody else would've done. But Evil Dad has to be a jerk, 'cause Margaret disagrees with him.)

July 15th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 2

    Time for more Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood, who is not the author of Silent Spring. This means I won't have to worry about "ZOMYGODyour4DDT!" Yeah.

    Subchapters: OrganInc Farms, Lunch, Nooners


    Today we learn that Jimmy's dad works at OrganInc Farms. The first sentence and we've already touched on the most evil, vile, sinister, society threatening, civilization destroying, kitten killing aspect of biotech firms -- their names. The names of biotech firms are always intentional misspellings, droll puns, or both. Genentech comes to mind. Less flippantly, "OrganInc" looks like a portentous play on "organic", the word appropriated by advocates of natural farming methods to mean "natural." Why not just use "natural" in the first place? My guess is to imply that food grown non-naturally is somehow fake living matter. Evidence supporting my hypothesis is how the omniscient narrator says OrganInc's farms aren't real like in the pictures Jimmy's seen.

    There's another unsubtle hint, one I've neglected to mention last time. Margaret--I mean the narrator keeps going on about how Jimmy only saw the natural world through media rather than in person.

    What OrganInc (CamelCase is such a pain to type) actually does is make pigoons, which are pigs except with extra organs that can be harvested. Then we snap back to Snowman who bitches about how the concept of being old enough to understand something is stupid, then we flash back to pigoons. Not much more to say really, except that obvious passing reference to (illegally) growing humans for spare parts. Narrator also hinty-hints that pigoons are also served in the cafeteria, which is bad because they have human genes. SOYLENT GREEN IS MADE OUT OF PEEEEEEPOLL!!! OF PEOPLE!!!1! Meg, hon, human genes just make human proteins, they don't make people unless they're in the right sequence. We put human genes in bacteria. All the time. It's how Genetech makes insulin.

    Moving on with the third page of this section, Jimmy's dad says something sexist again, and we find out that Jimmy's mom is named Sharon. Dad, who won't get a name for a while, talks with a co-worker about putting Sharon on medication for her depression. More on this later, but Jimmy wants to look at the pigoons.

    Jimmy looks at the pigs, oogles the babies, finds the adults scary, at treats us to a paragraph of PETA propaganda on factory farms.

    Now Jimmy's thinking about his house. We're practically told that the furniture is fake because it's called "reproduction," the original versions nowhere to be found. He lives in the gated community/company town setting so beloved of hack sci-fi writers, with dangerous cities out of early-90's sci-fi and everything in newspeak -- "the Modules," "the Compounds," "the pleblands," "the CorpSeCorps."

    And now we glimpse into Jimmy's domestic life. His mom quit her job for unknown reasons, mopes around, and appears to have borderline personality disorder. Jimmy annoys her whenever possible just to get her to show an emotion. We see her being driven into a fit, and another time when she breaks into tears.

    And we're back to Snowman again, hearing voices and feeling sorry for himself. He looks at the genemod animals gone feral, pigoons and rakunks and wolvogs, and thinks back to his childhood again. He thinks back on his nice school teacher, a nice lady who he both loathes and lusts after. He thinks about Crake and the games they played: Extinctathon, Three-Dimensional Waco, Barbarian Stomp, Kwiktime Osama. Yep, Atwood's jumped on that bandwagon.

    I hope you won't mind if I go on a tangent for a moment, I promise it's relevant. A while back on the SJG Forums, there was a wee bit'o moral outrage at Super Columbine Massacre. Besides the predictable shock and shuddering, a couple of bozos said It'd be useful for criminology purposes, and one schmuck made a rant about richwhitemales directed at said bozos. Schmuck said that anyone making, and playing, such games were trying to be "superedgyshockcool" by "defending the indefensible." No, it's just to tweak the noses of moralizing assholes like you and Tracy Hickman. Besides, SCMRPG! is freeware, and really just a game as g_pudding and others pointed out.

    Now Snowman's thinking about keeping a diary, it's like a blog but on paper and more about personal life than editorializing, but he angsts about how future generations won't be able to read it. No, he doesn't think Crake's master race can ever learn how to read.

    While waxing ontologically about a caterpillar, he scolds himself for having a happy thought. The he thinks back to how the teacher in his Life Skills class was all about grim work ethic. The teacher, "a shambling neo-con reject from the heady days of the legendary dot-com bubble," is every part the stereotypical hotshot yuppie -- ponytail, nose stud -- except that he's burned-out and decrepit! Isn't that clever? I can just hear Margaret going haw-ha! as she's writing this.

    Snowman mopes some more, feels insecure about his body compared to the Crakers, and goes to sleep.

July 14th, 2007

I have carried through with my original threat and have written Bratz Sue-fic. I'm sure my prose needs work, so let me know where the rough edges are.

~ ~ ~

Described in the First ParagraphCollapse )

Immediate AcceptanceCollapse )

Janet Already Helps the Canon CharactersCollapse )

The New KidCollapse )

July 13th, 2007

Oryx and Crake part 1

    In the same vein of kippurbird's derisive summaries (hereafter called sporkings), I've decided to do some of my own. In particular, I'll be directing my ire at Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. Yes, that Margaret Atwood, the author of Silent Spring. Let me say right away that if I had to choose between DDT and mosquitos I'd choose the later since they're easier to clean up after. Having hopefully established that I'm not some right-wing PR shill, I'll now begin my story of the story.

    Oryx and Crake is about the misadventures of a farmer's son, an evil genius, and a child pornstar. Guess who the viewpoint character's going to be? If you've looked at the editorial reviews, which you should've done by now, you see that Oryx and Crake is your typical ecodisaster screed cautionary tale telling us how genetic engineering is evilevilevil. It's backed by the Margaret Atwood name brand, so who are we to question her? Whatever I am, I've been griefed at with no backup, so I can only go up from here.

    While Oryx and Crake is separated into chapters and subchapters, each sporking will totally rip into summarize about 21ish pages depending on where a particular subchapter ends. The whole book should take about 18 parts.

    Subchapters: Mango, Flotsam, Voices, Bonfire


    We begin with the awaking of our hero, Snowman, short for Abominable Snowman. He lives out of a plastic bag, he makes noises just to hear a human voice, he hallucinates, he's filthy and stubbly and half starved. He's probably supposed to symbolize how we don't appreciate history or the Old Ways or something.

    The first subchapter is especially darling in how Margaret indulges in a non-sequiturial dig at British colonialism, giving very unsubtle hints about how the Brits were a bunch of mean ol' rapists. Somebody tell me what this has to do with genetic engineering.

    After our first gratuitous mention of rape, at only page 5, we go to the next page where Snowman watches kids playing in a polluted lagoon -- by a beach partially composed of broken bones. The kids talk funny, "Snowman, oh Snowman," and ask him to appraise the junk they found. He's sad because they'll never be able to understand the purposes of things from the long-long-ago.

    The omniscient narrator then mentions how "Snowman" is just two syllables to the kids because Crake forbade names based on things that don't exist, showing us what an Evil Materialist he is. Abominable Snowman chose his name to symbolize his semiexistence, or something.

    While Snowman admires the kids' bodies, noting how because of Crake they have varying skin tones but only green eyes, the kids come up and ask him about his body. His stubble, specifically. He tells them, again, that he's lost his feathers. The youngest kid wants feathers, but the Children of Crake can't grow beards, Crake "found [them] irrational." I bet Margret's one of those people for whom "rational" is a dirty word. Snowman shouts off the funny-talking kids like a drunken bum and they run off. He won't hurt the kids though, the omniscient narrator tells us so. He then spends the next two pages making noises, hearing voices, and ranting at Crake.

    We now go to when Snowman was a sweet little boy named Jimmy. He's watching Daddy burn diseased cattle in a bonfire. Jimmy thinks back on when he experimented with burning bits of his own hair. Dad was glad he cut the bits off first, Mom scolded Jimmy for nearly burning down the house. Mom thinks all kids are arsonists, Dad thinks all women are stupid-emotional. I have a very good guess who the omniscient narrator favors.

    Back from his reverie, Jimmy listens in on Dad and some guy talking shop about biowarfare. Later, Mom tries to explain to Jimmy what a disease is but he brats out on her. Jimmy then wants to know about cells but Mom poops out on him. And this is where I poop out on you, until next time!
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