Hey everybody! Look at what I found! That’s RIGHT, an interview with cli-fi’s sweetheart, Dan Bloom! It’s actually pretty interesting. The interview was posted on January 19th, 2015 and it’s about his thoughts on cli-fi in general and how cities are portrayed in these worlds affected by climate. I figured this was a good post to leave you all with. I’ll see you all again someday, maybe, to finish that debate about whether or not clones are considered alive.
The blog portion of this class was something that made me extremely nervous at the beginning of the semester. I was worried that other people would be reading what I was writing because I wasn’t entirely confident in my writing and I was nervous about doing something wrong (like misunderstanding a character’s motives or the plot). Along with this, everyone in this class really intimidated me because the majority of them are significantly older and therefore smarter than me, making me a little hesitant to post on the blog. Eventually though, I got over myself.
Knowing I’d have to write a review of the books we read in class made me really pay extra attention to everything that was happening in the book, something I don’t typically do when I’m reading just for fun. Not like I don’t pay attention when I’m reading for fun, but I definitely don’t pay as much attention to really specific things like I did with the books we had to read for class. What mostly motivated me to do this was the high expectations that the blog had to meet, seeing as now anyone in the universe who wants to read this blog can do so. I think this is really cool because our blog posts can potentially help other people further develop their own opinions about cli-fi and also help them form a better analysis of whatever book they’re reading the review of.
I tried to read at least two of my classmates’ reviews every week just to make sure I definitely knew what was happening in the book. This was especially helpful for The Collapse of Western Civilization because while that book was one of my favorites (because of how quickly it read) it was extremely confusing, so reading my classmates’ reviews definitely helped with clarification. Overall, I think the blog was a really helpful and successful part of the class that should definitely be continued as long as this class is offered. I think that if the blog didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t have liked this class as much as I did because while in-class discussions are helpful, the blog posts allowed us to have a more in-depth look of everyone’s opinions of the books.
I was just prancing about Google and I figured I’d do a little more research on how cli-fi is portrayed in the movies and if it’s really having any impact on people. I found this great article written by the New York Times that explains why they think global warming dramas can sometimes be misleading.
Also on this page are links to other related articles also written by the New York Times that are there for you to click on. The one that interested me the most is titled, “Will Fiction Influence How We React to Climate Change?”, written in July of last year. But again, there are a million different articles you can read that have links on either of those pages if you don’t dig the one I suggested so much.
I’ll see you guys tonight!!
OH, and HAPPY EARTH DAY!
While I was writing my expert review on Snowpiercer, I found a lot of cool interviews that will help you “pre-game”, if you will, for watching the movie in class tomorrow. It just gives some background on the movie and what some of the actors and producers think about it and it’ll really help get you into the world that we’ll be watching tomorrow. And who doesn’t love Chris Evans? Come on.
I really recommend looking at at least one of these interviews before coming in to watch the movie tomorrow. They’re all super interesting and not too long and the first one is a video.
See you guys tomorrow for pizza and Snowpiercer!!!
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE MOVIE SNOWPIERCER:
Before I begin my expert review of the movie Snowpiercer, I would like to point out that I was thoroughly engaged the whole time in figuring out where I knew the actor who plays Curtis from. And it just hit me. It’s Chris Evans AKA Captain America.
ANYWAY, over the weekend I had the pleasure of watching Snowpiercer, a 2013 South Korean science fiction film, for the first time in my life. The movie begins in the year 2032 in which everyone on Earth lives on the Snowpiercer, a massive train powered by a perpetual motion engine that travels on a track that spans the entire Earth. This is because back in 2014, an attempt to counteract global warming goes desperately wrong and results in a second ice age that is so destructive that almost all life on the planet is killed. Those who survived are the inhabitants of the train with the societal elites living in the front sections and the poorer people living in the tail sections, constantly surveyed by guards.
The story kicks off when our protagonist, Curtis Everett, leads the passengers of the tail sections of the train in a revolt against the guards and basically everyone who gets in their way. Their main goal is to reach the front of the train and take the engine. The first place Curtis and his band of followers stop for a short while is in the jail car, where they free Namgoong Minsu (the creator of the train’s security system who will be able to open and close the gates necessary for the group to advance farther up to the front of the train) and his daughter, Yona. They are offered Kronole, apparently a really addictive drug, in exchange for their help.
About halfway through the train, the group is met by a group of guards in terrifying masks led by Minister Mason, who acts as the voice of Wilford (the revered and often creepily worshipped creator of the train and the perpetual engine). This scene was definitely my favorite. I especially liked when the train passed through a tunnel and there were no lights but the guards had night vision and everyone else who couldn’t see was aimlessly swinging their weapons around in hopes that they would kill someone. This fight is ended when Curtis is forced to give up his second-in-command and best friend, Edgar, in order to take Minister Mason as captive for the rebels.
The group then passes through a schoolroom where they stop for a moment and listen to a rather psychotic teacher explain the history of the Snowpiercer and Wilford himself. Her and her students sing a really creepy song then look out the window at the seven people who once tried to survive outside of the train, frozen completely in their tracks. That entire time, the group was totally unaware that Wilford’s agents are preparing an attack on them that this schoolroom teacher is in on. They watch on TV as these agents attack the entire tail section of the train and killing Gilliam, Curtis’s dear friend and mentor. After a rather long fight, all members of the group are dead except for Curtis, Namgoong, and Yona (yes, even Octavia Spencer who played Tanya, a more essential member to the group than most but not important enough for me to talk about in greater detail. I love Octavia Spencer though.).
The final three reach the final car before the engine; a large door stands in the way. Namgoong gathers all the Kronole he’s gotten both from Curtis and from other passengers along the way and begins to clump it all together. He explains that Kronole can also be used as an explosive and that he intends on blowing off the side door of the train, leading him outside. He explains that he sees a crashed plane in the same spot every year, but in recent years he has seen more and more of the body and the wings of the plane…meaning the ice is thawing. He figures that the outside world is probably now back to a somewhat livable temperature and concludes that living literally anywhere else is better than living on this train. Then, the door to the engine opens, a woman comes out, shoots Namgoong, and invites Curtis inside to have dinner with Wilford.
Wilford is basically the sketchiest guy ever. He’s doing that typical villain thing where he tries to make nice with Curtis in order to make himself seem scarier or more intimidating to him. Wilford takes Curtis directly up to the engine and tells him that he wants Curtis to take over as overseer of the train. Obviously Curtis doesn’t want to do this and betray his own people. Instinctively, Curtis punches Wilford in the face and knocks him unconscious and Yona comes in and lifts the floorboard revealing that Wilford has been taking the children from the tail section of the train to use as replacement parts because children are the only thing small enough to get down there. Curtis sticks his hand in between all the gears to help get Timmy, Tanya’s son and the most recently taken child, out from underneath the floor. Namgoong lights the Kronole and races to the engine room. He and Curtis use themselves as shields for Yona and Timmy during the explosion. Considering the world is covered in snow and ice, OF COURSE the explosion triggers an avalanche. The train derails and we assume everyone else is either dead or severely injured because the only two who emerge from the train are Yona and Timmy. They spot a polar bear in the distance, proving that life is capable of being lived on Earth.
In the secondary reading for this week, “A Review of Climate Fiction (Cli-Fi) Cinema … Past and Present”, we learned that Snowpiercer started out as a graphic novel. We also learned that the movie takes itself in a more or less drastically different direction, where at the end of the graphic novel, Curtis decides to be the keeper of the engine as opposed to punching Wilford square in the dome. We also learned that this movie is part of a sub-genre of cli-fi called “ice-fi”, which is the basis of a lot of movies involving climate change. This is because people are definitely afraid of freezing to death in the same way that they’re afraid of spiders, snakes, or, I don’t know, commitment. Making a movie that revolves around a hot climate is probably way harder to depict and also the “dead calm” of excruciating heat is no match for the panic that the entire world would be in if we suddenly plunged into an ice age. “An ice-world is beautiful, frightening, and high contrast”, the secondary reading says, and saying that it’s harder to depict an increase in temperature than it is to show a forty degree drop as an ice age, as in Snowpiercer (Svoboda).
In my opinion, it is painstakingly obvious what climate change has to do with this movie. The entire situation is caused by spraying special particles into the sky in order to try to reverse the effects of climate change and the plot is them having to deal with the fact that they have to live on a train because the outside world is too cold to hold a functioning society. The theme of the movie is deeper than some scientists messing everything up and accidentally plunging the Earth into an ice age, though. This movie is also a political message. It’s more or less a warning sign for government elites that’s basically like: here’s what the working class is going to end up doing if you all think that capitalism is still a good idea. We can also say that this movie is an allegory for Soviet Communism, which attempted to seize power and reduce exploitation without actually doing anything substantial about the capitalist system as one of total domination. As you can probably tell, I was almost a political science major.
Overall, I really liked this movie. I definitely understand why eating pizza while watching it might be a concern because some parts are really gross and gory, however, I ate Subway almost the whole time so I really think that’ll be okay. I thought that the acting was incredible and believable, something that is sometimes lacking in movies nowadays. I thought it was amusing and almost funny about how this entire movie probably wouldn’t have happened if they had sprayed the right amount of climate-controlling particles into the air. This movie was basically one big, “…oops”. It was also interesting knowing that this might one day have to be an option in real life. Hopefully our real-life scientists won’t screw up as badly as those ones in the movie did though. I mean, HOPEFULLY it won’t come to that at all, but I fear that the future isn’t looking too good. Unless all humans actively do something to change the way they’re living and are aware and conscious that climate change is a real thing that’s happening, we’re all going to end up living on a train for at least eighteen years until Curtis/The Human Torch/Captain America saves us all.
First of all, I would like to start off this review by saying this book was almost impossible to follow. Even after finishing, I went on Wikipedia to read a plot synopsis and STILL had no idea what went on. There were way too many characters with really difficult names that were too odd for me to remember from chapter to chapter; one of the only reasons I remembered Emiko’s name is because it kind of looks like “Emily”. With that in mind, here is what I gathered from reading Paolo Bacigalupi’s, The Windup Girl:
The second I opened the book, I knew I was going to be thankful that I was only writing a short review on it. I remember thinking, “why? Why me? There are fifty thousand characters and this book is so long. What monster does this?” All sarcastic remarks aside, my favorite part of the book was the end…NOT IN A SARCASTIC WAY. I like that Bacigalupi ended the book on a hopeful note with Gibbons telling Emiko that he can use her DNA to produce a species of people that will be just like her that she can live with, something she’s wanted for a very long time. I feel like a lot of the books we’ve read haven’t ended so happily, so this ending is one I can appreciate. I feel bad that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book as much as I had anticipated I would. I suppose I did enjoy how developed all the characters were even though there were so many of them. With that many stories to keep track of, Bacigalupi did an incredible job of not slacking on any of the characters. Ten points for Bacigalupi.
Although this book was absolutely and horrifically long, I actually did enjoy parts of it. I say “parts” only because a lot of it was very science-y, if you will, which was to be expected. In class on Wednesday, we discussed whether or not we thought Kim Stanley Robinson made this science sound more exciting through poetic writing rather than the cold hard facts, and I have to say I agree. Even though part of the reason I wasn’t married to the book was because of all the science Kim Stanley Robinson did manage to make it readable and more interesting. Ten points for Kim Stanley Robinson. A part of the book I did really like was the part where Frank had a romantic encounter in the elevator. I think that provided a more human touch to the book (not that the book was very non-human anyway) and helped make it a little more relatable while also striking an emotional cord because we all assume that something bad is probably going to happen. I think the connection to climate change in this book is painstakingly obvious. A massive rainstorm, the Hyperniño, hits the West Coast; obviously triggered by climate change. Along with this there is another huge storm that generates in the Atlantic Ocean that floods Washington, D.C., trapping the scientists in the capitol building. In the second to last line of the book, Charlie finds he can hardly contain his “I-told-you-so” attitude about this entire situation and bursts out, “So, Phil [the senator]! Are you going to do something about global warming now?” (393). Overall, I thought the book was just fine. Not as good as Climate Changed (the graphic novel) but DEFINITELY not as bad as Earth Abides. Also, I agree with the majority when I say that Kim Stanley Robinson really is a fantastic writer. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys lots of science, politics, and the idea of meeting mysterious women in elevators.
Hey, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the fact that we’ve plummeted back into the ice age with this weather (this must mean that global warming doesn’t exist, right?!?). I just wanted to share with you all this interview I stumbled upon when googling Kim Stanley Robinson about his science-fiction writing and science-fiction in general. It’s really long, HOWEVER, in the description of the video it gives what questions are asked at what time in the video, so you can basically pick and choose which answers you want to hear. If I didn’t explain that clearly enough, you’ll figure it out once you click on the link (which in case you didn’t see, is attached via hyperlink to the word “interview” in the second sentence of this post). Also, at the end of this video, he reads a little portion of his book 2312 which we discussed in class yesterday! Please do not be alarmed that Kim Stanley Robinson bares a passing resemblance to Walter White from Breaking Bad, I’m sure he is nothing like Walter White…but how cool would that be?
The blog is one of my favorite things about this class, actually. It makes the already interactive nature of this class even more interactive and I feel like I’m learning more about the books by reading what other people thought of it in their posts than by just having discussions in class about it. The only thing that’s off-putting to me about the blog posts is that it’s kind of intimidating to write a post about something I know other people are going to be reading. Mostly because if I misunderstand something about the book and write a blog post about something that might not even be relevant and someone jumps down my throat about it I’ll get all nervous and probably not have opinions ever again. Not that anybody in this class would do that because you’re all delightful and intelligent people.
Another reason it kind of intimidates me is because I don’t think I’m that strong of a writer so just the idea of other people reading what I’m posting scares me. However, I’m pretty sure being nervous about other people reading what you write is a common thing and through the use of this blog I’ve grown accustomed to knowing that other people are reading what I’m writing besides the professor so I think that’s another beneficial aspect of this blog. In class yesterday, some people addressed the issue of there not being enough structure and I have to say I disagree with that. I feel better knowing that I don’t have to be reading a book looking for a specific thing to write about and that I can just write what’s going on in my brain right after I finish it as opposed to writing like a robot and fulfilling a prompt. I also said in class yesterday that maybe a “Some questions to consider for this review might be…” for those people who are actually concerned about structure. I figured this would be useful because then those people get there structure but it ultimately has no effect on the people who like things the way they are now because those questions are purely suggestions.
I definitely like posting on the blog more than I like doing writing for my other classes because here I can just write how I speak; sarcastically. I probably wouldn’t get away with putting anything I write here into a research paper and if I did, I would fail out of college. Overall, I really think this blog is a good idea. It gives everyone a chance to get inside each other’s heads and helps a lot (at least for me) with some of the reading comprehension. The blog is super cool, just like our dear friend, Dan Bloom.
I thought Flight Behavior was a really interesting book that succeeded in putting everything into perspective and making me feel like I could get through anything with perseverance and courage. However, there were times where I could feel myself disliking the book and getting really bored. Personally, I’m not a very religious person (not that I’m not religious at all, it’s just—you know what, that’s a whole other debate). Because of this, the times where the characters were discussing religious-like things, such as when they talk about how Dellarobia had a “vision” that led them to discover the butterflies, kind of made me want to throw the book into the snow. People like this who think everything is a vision or some sort of “sign from God”, if you will, irk me. If I could tell the people in this book how many times I’ve seen some butterflies throughout my life, they probably would’ve dedicated an entire religion to me.
Religion aside, I was impressed that they managed to tie climate change into the book (Shout-out to Dan Bloom, who was probably way too happy about this). How they managed to do this was that the characters identified that this was not the butterflies’ normal migration patterns, which was an ominous sign of climate change, as told by a scientist that visits Dellarobia (Ovid Byron). Overall, I thought the story was very sweet. I liked how Dellarobia had that one thing in her life (the butterflies) that reminded her that she could keep on keepin’ on and continue living. I believe everybody should have something like that to remind them that when they’re sad, life always finds a way to get better. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a nice, heartfelt story who also has the ability to overlook really weird character names.
So I found myself on Google searching for things about the Mars One and GET THIS, I found an entire website! I figured I’d post it on here so you can all have a look, too. ALSO, I found this National Geographic article that talks about how there may already be proof of life on Mars in the form of microbes. Personally, I wouldn’t classify this as “life” exactly, but hey, it’s something.
SEE YOU GUYS ON WEDNESDAY!!!!
The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future is a short novel written from the perspective of a Chinese historian who is looking back on our current time from several centuries in the future. Throughout the book, the historian is describing the foolishness of our behavior (in what is our present day) in regards to everything from carbon dioxide levels to the economic state of all the countries that helped lead to the downfall of the world. This book has a lot of interesting qualities to it. First of all, it’s not every day that you read a book written from the viewpoint of the future. I think this adds an ominous tone to the novella because it is written as a warning that we as the readers should heed rather than a normal fictional book. The fact that this book is written fictionally is another quality that makes The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future very interesting. The authors of the book, Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (who are actually scientists) admitted in their interview that writing in fiction was easier because then it wouldn’t require copious amounts of research seeing as they’re making things up (within reason…meaning all of the things they talk about could very well happen).
Overall, I did like the book. I thought while it was informative, it was also short and to the point, with the actually story being no more than fifty pages. However, I was extremely confused with some of the terminology Oreskes and Conway were using. The glossary in the back helped, but I was a little annoyed with that seeing as every time I didn’t know a word I had to flip through however many pages and then I’d lose my spot and it was all a big mess. I definitely would’ve enjoyed the book more had they used more simplistic terms because I am not a scientist nor am I good at science and I always felt at least a little bit lost while reading the book.
What would you do if you went into town for the day and everybody was gone? This hypothetical question is one that was actually presented to Isherwood Williams in our novel for this week, Earth Abides, as he stumbled from out of the mountains (where the poor guy was trying to work on his graduate thesis) to integrate himself back into society. He had hardly fared well in the mountains anyway, seeing as about one page into the book, our hero is seen being bitten by a rattlesnake. After he began to heal from the bite, he started to feel extremely ill, slipping in and out of consciousness. Once he recovers enough to function, he heads back down to civilization to find that there is absolutely no one there. He learns that the majority of the population was taken out by a freakish disease, he figures the same one that had plagued him in the mountains (he assumed the snake’s venom counteracted it and that’s why he’s still alive). He then ventures to his home in Berkeley, where he ends up finding a few survivors—a drunk old man, a skittish couple, and a girl who is obviously running from someone or something. None of these people are any use to him. He does however find a beagle who is very glad to join him on his adventure. When he returns to California, he finds a woman named Emma and they agree to be married and have children together. They join together with others and the electricity fails and the comforts of everyday life fade away. Though time, Ish tries to teach the children basic knowledge such as reading, writing, and math. He finds he has lost hope in all the children except Joey, Ish’s youngest and favorite son.
In part two, we find our hero twenty-two years in the future. The children are more adapted to their environment and they even inform the adults where the streams are when the running water fails. Ish begins to notice that the children are becoming superstitious so he asks for his hammer and the children are afraid to touch it because it’s a symbol of the old times. The years go by and everybody grows vegetables and begins to make bows and arrows. In this new society, Ish is highly respected by his ideas are often shut down by the younger people in the community.
In the third part, Ish’s life has considerably deteriorated to the point where he lives in a constant haze. He is very much unaware of the world as the rest of the community progresses with the new lifestyle (we’re back to basics, hunting with bows and arrows). He realizes the new civilization is hopeless, but he wonders whether or not it’s that much worse off than the old world. He hopes that the new civilization will not make the same mistakes and the book ends.
A major theme I recognized and agreed with from this book was the theme of natural selection. Natural selection refers to Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. An example of this is in the beginning of the book when Ish encounters the old man. He wonders why the survivor couldn’t have been a “beautiful girl or a fine intelligent man” (Stewart 30). Even the old man wonders why he was spared (34). Ish gets angry when he asks this, saying that he has no clue why this old drunkard was spared over many other good people. Shortly after, Ish happens upon the old man lying dead in the on the sidewalk (36). Based on Darwin’s theory, we assume that the old man survived over other people because of some special characteristic he showed while all others were lacking in that area. However, we are unable to identify what it was that made him so special before he eventually dies, falling prey to the process of natural selection. Survival of the fittest makes many appearances throughout this book, considering its primary focus is on the disease that wiped out a population except for a very small group of people.
Earth Abides can be related to our secondary reading for this week in that they both have to do with a strange disease wiping out a population. The only difference is in our secondary reading, Silent Spring, this scenario is fake (Carson 3). Carson goes on to say that if a disease that was capable of wiping out a population, it would be the result of “man’s assaults upon the environment” such as the “contamination of air, earth, rivers, and sea with dangerous and even lethal materials” otherwise known as “pollution” (6). Reading this article made me wonder if the disease brought about in Earth Abides is a by-product of man’s pollution that has been culminating for as long as humans have been on Earth.
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. To be honest, I only picked it as an expert review because I thought that since it was longer, the plot would be more interesting because a lot of stuff would be happening. I was entirely wrong. On the whole, I thought it was predictable and uneventful.
Reading Climate Changed was more like reading a very well thought out wake-up call than a 400+ page graphic novel. All the information, and there is a LOT of information, is presented in an entertaining and simple way, making it easy to read for teenagers and adults alike. On top of the information, the author, Philippe Squarzoni, includes personal details from his life that are relevant to how he created the idea for the book and the book itself. He also includes his wife, Camille, and her part in helping him further develop this graphic novel. An important thing to mention about this book is that he uses a lot of expert testimony which makes him seem very credible therefore making his writing incredibly effective. If the entire book were based off of Squarzoni’s opinions and what he knows about climate change (which at the beginning of the graphic novel, he repeatedly states that he really doesn’t know anything about it), we as the readers would probably less engaged in the book and more prone to question whether or not what he was saying was true. This is one of the big reasons why I enjoyed this graphic novel so much. Not only does the use of expert testimony qualify Squarzoni’s points, it switches it up for a couple pages so that we aren’t just reading one person go on and on about climate change for 467 pages. Another reason I liked the book was because it kind of scared me a little. It made me think about what would happen if we were to exceed the amount of emissions that the planet could handle, something I’d never even considered thinking about before. Overall, I really enjoyed this graphic novel. However, I did find it ironic that with all the talk of changing our lifestyle to save the planet from the various experts and Squarzoni himself, he still published this almost 500 page graphic novel for however many copies it sold, probably killing an enormous amount of trees in the process. At least he acknowledges in the book several times that we’re all hypocrites when it comes to small stuff like that. For example, using too much paper or taking a plane ride. Hopefully in the near future, we figure out a way to reduce these harmful emissions without having to completely alter our daily lives.
I really enjoyed reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, a novella about a quirky, headstrong time traveler who defies expectations and ends up getting himself into a gigantic mess of trouble. He involves himself in the year 802, 701 with a group called the Eloi, fragile and beautiful creatures who live on the surface of the Earth. Below the ground, though, lie the Morlocks. The almost albino-looking inhabitants of the underground world who climb up to the surface to hunt for the Eloi after dark and eat them once they’re safely below ground again. This novella focuses on the triumphs and tribulations of the time traveler as he tries to associate and familiarize himself with this new world. One of his most important challenges he faces is when he discovers an Eloi drowning in a river. None of the other Eloi rush to save her because the current is too strong for them to go after her, so the time traveler takes it upon himself to save her from her imminent doom. The two quickly become very close friends and spend the majority of the novella accompanying each other through many other adventures. In my opinion, this is a short book that’s great for both teenagers and adults. It really captivates the potential for a rather morbid future should mankind decide to, more or less, destroy itself. But at least we have the quote from the end of the Epilogue that provides a glimmer of hope, “…when mind and strength had gone, gratitude and a mutual tenderness still lived on in the heart of man”.