Author: Samantha Tarallo

Blogs blogs blogs

In the beginning of the semester when I found out a large portion of the class was going to be blogging, part of me wanted to drop the class. Not because I don’t like blogging, I just didn’t think I would be particularly good at it (as reflected in my first blog post grade). Reading other people’s blogs helped me in a lot of ways. I got more in touch with how the writing should be, free but still structured. I learned how to incorporate a lot of big ideas into a reasonable post size so that my classmates and random people reading the blog wouldn’t tune out or start to skim read after the first 4 sentences. I struggled a lot with finding a voice that I felt would adequately show my ideas and stance on certain issues within climate change. My other English classes were very largely paper based, so I actually enjoyed a lot just being able to write what I thought in a way that wasn’t so formal but was still really informing. I had another English class for my internship where we would blog, but that was just saying what we did for the week, so very personal and very easy. This was personal but professional, I feel. I love being able to see what everyone else thinks and how they are fearless in what they write. People that never spoke  in class would have the most incredible ideas and ways of saying them. So in that way I feel what you started here is amazing. Not just for the shy people who don’t talk in class, but for the people who talk too much in class….the ones that everyone pretty much tunes out after a while (sorry), it made it easier to read all of their ideas too. All in all I really enjoyed the blogging aspect of this class, a lot more than I originally thought that I would.

Hurricane Fever

Every once in a while you find a book that plays more like a movie in your head. Hurricane Fever wasn’t the typical cli-fi book that we’ve read in class. It was packed with adventure, secrets and an all-too-real depiction of something that could actually happen in the world. Everyone likes to think about the possibility that there are spies somewhere out there doing crazy things with even crazier circumstances surrounding them, and I thought that this book did a really good job of portraying that. One of the most incredible non-standard things about this book were the different protagonists we saw. Usually when you follow any spy-saves-the-world type movie or book, the main character is almost always white. But that wasn’t the case with this, and I think that that in itself opened up a lot of different doors audience wise. It wasn’t the typical type which in turn will make a lot of different people want to read it. Aside from that, the subtlety of climate change made the book better because of the small things here and there. Islands sinking, waves crushing people, rising sea levels and the threat of hurricanes are things that are happening now. We can see these things getting worse too. It’s not impossible to imagine them and that’s going to be a real eye opener. Us being so close to something that we can almost taste it. Lastly, I noticed in a lot of reviews that people didn’t like that they pretty much knew what was going to happen next. I thought that Tobias Buckell did a fantastic job of letting the characters choose where they were going, and although that may make it somewhat predictable it also makes it that much more real.

The Year of the Flood

The Year of the Flood is a novel that brings forth cli-fi, religion, and the ugly truths about prostitution, class and corporations. The novel itself is about a religious group called the gardeners who are aware of an impending “waterless flood” about to take place. The gardeners find peace in living a simple life with no meat, they only wear recycled clothes, and believe in their faith more than anything else. They are founded on the fact that they believe the human race has strayed away from what God originally set out for us, and with the world being run by less than moral corporations that’s not exactly not true. What I really enjoyed most bout this book were the flash backs. It really surprised me that a lot of people found it really hard to follow and even thought that the flashbacks weren’t important to the story. The flashbacks, for me, gave the context for everything that was going on. They explained why things were the way they were at this present moment in time, and even showed us a different side of the characters. One of the most interesting things about the books for me were the elements of prostitution and corporations that seem to go hand in hand with these dystopian societies. The fact that both girls were stuck in opposite sides of the spectrum with one being stuck in a high end day spa while the other is stuck in the “cleaning room” of a strip and prostitute club where the girls would go to get tested for STI’s. I thought it was really interesting how Atwood showed these two sides in great detail and how they definitely relate to the actual struggles that some girls go through today. Maybe not the being stuck in the room parts, but definitely the high class and low class “doing-what-needs-to-be-done” work ethic. What really is different is you’d think it would be Ren who would have this deep hatred for the corporations because she’s in the current situation she’s in but its actually Toby. Toby’s whole entire life has been abandoned because her father shot himself with a rifle…and she couldn’t even report it because the blame of having any firearm at all would fall back on her. So she’s stuck abandoning her entire identity and going underground all for the sake of staying alive. Just when you think things can’t possibly get worse for her, she gets a job and falls under the eye of a her manager who happens to be a sexual predator. He objectifies women and turns them into his own personal sex slave just for the thrill of it. The importance of class is all too relevant when we see how there are definitively two different types of people, those who live in the corporate compounds and those who find refuge in the slums. The corporations run the world like a drug cartel, and if you cross them or get in the way of their agenda you will probably find yourself dead in a ditch somewhere. At the end of the book we can see how Toby starts to see through this, and how she notices that only the few, the privileged are reaping the benefits. Atwood does a great job of bringing in a serious problem into a book that at first glance is just about climate change. I think this book is a lot more than what it looks like on the surface, with so many back stories and other things going on that makes it turn into one cohesive work about many major social problems.

Wind down please

So I’m just going to say it….I hated this book. Honestly I didn’t even make it through the entire thing. My experience was a combination of boredom and just complete disdain. I even went through a bunch of websites trying to figure out what the hell actually was going on. A lot of the reviews that I’ve read basically hate the fact that the story feels like its all over the place, but I didn’t mind the millions of different characters as much as the story itself. I didn’t like the over all story. Sure a world where energy companies rule isn’t too far fetched, I just think that the plot could have been executed a little better. The one thing that really got to me was the sexual humiliation and the abuse of Eskimo. It really shocked me that the author chose to put something so real and so messed up (for lack of a better word) in this book that I thought was just supposed to be about climate change and how these companies are still destroying the world. I think that aspect made the book a little more realistic but it also just really turned me off from it. So aside from that she just goes and kills like 7 people! I understand the circumstances but, I had this idea in my head that she was this frail person who could not hurt anyone really. So for her to just kill these powerful men and bodyguards, it just seemed really far off to me, like the author was reaching to much. All in all I thought this was a good book, but it just wasn’t a book that i wanted to read.

40 Signs of Something

When I first started reading this book I had every belief that it was going to be just another far fetched science fiction novel about climate change. So imagine my surprise when it was nothing of the sort. A lot of people describe this book as “boring” but I don’t really see that. I see a web of different stories that somehow intertwine together into one. Stanley does an amazing job of not being overly scientfictiony. That’s not to say he doesn’t throw a lot of facts at you because he does, the details of Leos biological research, the depth of Frank’s thoughts about everything, and even the dynamic that Charlie and Anna have going on. You would think that the little tid-bits of information he gives us about Charlie raising his sons or about what Frank really thinks about Anna or even how Leo feels about his boss are irrelevant, but they aren’t. All of the little details are what make the story real. They make it believable. They make us relate to it in a way we haven’t before. So no, we aren’t given a page turning action packed novel, we’re given something else entirely. An invitation to see how all of these different lives intertwine together to show us what can happen.

Stanley also really shows us how much words matter when it comes to our government and how things work. We see Charlie talking on the phone about getting his ideas through congress to construct carbon sinks and to work for international cooperation for amelioration of climate change. We see how much the emphasis is on the words that are used when he just has to turn around one or two within the piece of legislation he’s trying to get passed. It just shows how even though climate change is a real thing thats happening right now, you still have to be manipulative and careful to show that it’s really something that we have to take care of with out in-sighting fear into everyone. It’s a catch 22. We can’t over sell it because we, just like in the book at first, are not seeing the effects right away. We’ve been talking about it so long, about how its such a problem and we’re going to be sorry…but no one cares. And the fact that nothing significant has happened just justifies and reinforces the people in power’s decision to do nothing about it. Now the flip side, us underselling it, us not doing everything in our power to show people how important it is, will have everyone going crazy asking where were the scientists that were supposed to have seen this coming.  A perfect example of this is in the article “In 300 Years, Kim Stanley Robinson’s science fiction won’t be fiction” when he refers to us as “the dithering”. Not only do we refuse to believe it, we blatantly deny that it is even happening.

Everything always leads back to money and power. Money in the sense that in order to combat this problem, its gonna take money. And a lot of it. If no one can see a major cataclysmic even within our life time, they see no reason to just throw money at it. Then we come to power. Ever notice how people with all the power in the world really don’t do anything? Well when it comes to politics, I’m sorry to say that the needs of the greater good don’t always outweigh the power of an election year or political agendas. If no one else is trying to fix something and you’re the only one making noise, you’re going to find yourself being the odd one out. We are the only people who can save our planet, but a lot of us are letting anything but what’s right get in the way of what needs to be done. Kim Stanley Robinson showed us that if nothing else, we need to pay attention.

Audit

So to be completely and totally honest, I’m not really a “blogger”. I like complete direction with assignments. Clear cut directions, and a designated outcome. I’m not good at writing whatever as long as it’s relevant, so when I found out the biggest part of our class was going to be blogging, I was nervous and not excited to say the least. With those expectations starting out, I’m actually really surprised with how well and how easy it was to actually write blog posts. Granted, my first one was a train-wreck and I had to read a couple of my classmates to really get the feel for it, I think I’ve kind of got the blog thing down. It’s definitely different than any other blogs I’ve done, most of those were either for my internship, which was just a weekly summary of what I did or it was a question with lots and lots of back up questions telling me exactly what to do. Going forward, Maybe put a general thing you want to know for each blog post, a central idea you want to focus on. I think that would help people like me who need something to go off of ad still cater to those people who just write freely. One thing I saw in someone else’s was that commenting on other people’s blogs should be a a mandatory thing, I think it’s good to encourage that but forcing them to do it will probably just generate some half-assed responses. All in all I think the blogs are working great, we have a lot of really good ideas coming from people and they generate some awesome class discussions.

Are you there God?

When I first picked up this book, I assumed it would be a typical post apocalyptic, end of the world, type book that just kinda went on from page to page until the end. What I got out of this book was completely different. It’s a powerful story. The book is set in a time where the government has pretty much all but failed, and people are forced to live within a wall. If you go outside, you run the risk of being killed, raped, robbed, and whatever else. As bad is this sounds, life within the wall isn’t all that great as well. Lauren, the narrator, is the daughter of a minister and she makes it very clear she doesn’t believe in the God he does. Do you blame her? I think this book brings up an entirely different idea that we haven’t faced yet, how do you believe in God when everything is going wrong in the world? Terrible things are happening all around her. The break down of law and order, people are dying in the streets, and Lauren’s family is savagely killed. After going through all of that, how do you find the strength to believe in anything? I think this book does a fantastic job of showing people that all you really need is yourself, to get yourself through the horrible things in life so that you can experience the good ones.

Here One Moment, Gone the Next

Men come and go, but Earth Abides. That’s the premise of this entire book. It’s a hard thing to come to terms with, that people are temporary. We go through life  every day with the notion in our heads that nothing can hurt us and we’re at the top of the food chain. We don’t stop to think about the bigger picture, about how our actions may eventually start something we will have no control over. Stewart opens up with that in mind. We follow Ish, who in the opening pages is bitten by a snake and goes out of his way to bring home a hammer. He is a college student who is forced to grow up alone and deal with the “new world”. There has been an apocalyptic event, and most of the human population has been wiped out by an unnamed disease. At first there seems to be an over abundance of food, and people go on stealing from liquor stores and jewelry trying to find comfort in them. He’s on his own for a while, and we see him come to terms with accepting that his family and friends are dead and he has no idea what this world will have in store for him. He eventually meets a woman and she becomes his family. They gradually add more people to their “tribe” and mark the years that pass by on a rock with the hammer. With most of mankind dead, dogs and cats that are fortunate enough to be free outside are faced with the “kill or be killed” mentality, while Ish and his “tribe” of people stay secluded and keep amongst themselves. When they are faced with new-comers they are skeptical, and when they find out he carries STD’s the choice of whether to spare him or save themselves is hardly a choice at all. They unanimously choose to get rid of the one person that threatens their entire existence.

While reading this, I empathized with the human aspect of it. It’s a good story, and I think it more or less accurately describes how someone would function had this actually happened. Even today we, like Ish, have all these ideas of how to stop mankind from destroying the earth- but that’s all they are, ideas. Ish has all these ideas on how to fix the electricity, how to bring the flowing water back, but doesn’t give his tribe the tools to do it. He starts a school for the children of his tribe but when they lose interest he lets them stop. And so they know nothing about reading or doing simple arithmetic or even what “Arizona” was. While they have no interest in school, they all are fixated on the hammer. It becomes sort of a relic to them and gives Ish something to believe in while the children know nothing else. Carson’s book heavily examines the United States obsession with chemicals in a post WWII society. We didn’t care what we were hurting as long as we were getting results. People were good at trying to put a positive face on DDT spraying but the reality is that poison is still poison. I think Earth Abides could possibly show the outcome of what goes on in Carson’s book Silent Spring. If you stay silent, and let people do whatever they want to the earth, eventually nature is going to try and rebalance itself out. The basic instinct and only way to rebuild at that point would be to completely level out what’s destroying it, and that’s us.

Reading this book today, it’s not a scary as it was when it came out. Because the technology that was around then seems like ages ago, because people now don’t know anything else. We live in world that has the universe in the palm of their hand. You don’t know how to do something? Google it. Can you even imagine living now without that? We have coffee that pours without any buttons being touched, cars that start automatically and without keys, news within seconds of stories breaking and so much more. Our world would shatter without technology. So I do commend Stewart for showing how these people only seventy years ago were able to develop a functioning system.

It’s terrifying to think that in one instant something can happen that could change our lives forever. It’s even worse to think that we are all just little pieces of this earth, pieces that can be switched out or taken away for good. In the end, all we really are going to have is ourselves, to rebuild, to move on. Some people may abandon their faith while others might cling on to seemingly insignificant objects, like the hammer. The bottom line is that anything can happen, nothing is permanent. And there’s nothing in this world that can make you feel more alone than that.

Wait….climate what?

When you first hear the phrase “climate change” so many things come to mind you’re basically overwhelmed. There are so many facts and opinions that come to you, you probably dread reading an essay or editorial or pretty much anything with an excessive amount of facts. So when you first think that someone thought of an expressive way to convey a meaningful message your first thought is, huh? Now when most people think of expressive they get all deep and think of something complicated. But what is the most basic form of expression we have? Words. Books. Pictures. You take and idea or a problem and make it into something people have to get involved with and know more about with out being bored to death.This graphic novel was created specifically with that in mind. With the notion of understanding that most everyday people cannot just read a bunch of facts for an extended period of time and actually have them make sense, let alone enjoy them. That’s not to say that this novel did not have a lot of information..because it did, and the author tries to present them through a personal story that makes you think you’re not just reading cold hard facts. We go from the basic understanding of climate models to the upsetting reality of the impact that climate change will have on the earth. The whole idea of having the reader be distracted from all of the facts by the pictures is negated when we take a look at a scientist explaining nuclear energy for a million individual frames. Its little things like this that can cause a person to ultimately lose interest relatively fast. When the personal touches are brought to life it brings the book back to having that “novel feel” where we see the author’s struggle with trying to help the planet himself by doing small things, such as buying one plane ticket a year. The depictions of his trips captivate and draw your attention in so that you want to know more about what you are reading. I think that when you strip away all of the repetitive scientific stuff, and just listen to the story that he’s trying to tell you can see the bigger picture. It’s crazy to think that with all the information we have about climate change there is still so much hesitation in doing anything about it. Most people are really comfortable saying that it’s “not my problem” and “one non recycled can isn’t gonna change the world any more than a recycled one” but we have to become aware. Aware of our actions and even more aware of the consequences for those actions. Everyone know any book you read will undoubtedly have much more of an impact on you when you feel like you can sympathize and relate to that person on a human level. So when the author throws facts and humanity at you you have no choice but to react. To feel something. To become aware.

Timeless

The Time Machine, a novel by H.G. Wells starts out with the story of a man who was late to his dinner party and turns into one of the most well-known science fiction novels in the genre. In the book, his guests recently found out that he has his own time machine….which didn’t exactly help out his whole “sorry for being late” attitude he had when he came in looking all disheveled.  The story is not overly technical, Wells doesn’t go into great detail about his time machine, but the book does dive deep into some big themes about the nature of man.  Told from an outside third person perspective, we never really know if the story is 100% true or not. The narrator tells his dinner guests that he has traveled into the future to the year 802,701 where there are two different kinds of people that more or less give us a look into the types of people that are all around us right now. Not in the literal sense considering the lower class (Morlocks)  eats some of  the upper class (Eloi) But the gap between those two types of people relates directly to the gap between classes during the time the book was written. While the story is very compelling, there are a few things that were a little off scientifically. The Eloi are described as being completely disease free, but even in the future if there are no viruses, or parasites you still need bacteria or the entire ecosystem will fail…there are just Little holes in the plots here and there.