Saturday, February 28, 2009

Of Far Away Places

The Screw Fly Solution

"Imagine, refugees in the U.S.A." Now that quote really caught my attention. And then I learned the bitter truth, the women fleeing femicide! And yet Alan and Anne seem to be so in love

Some cult beliefs manifesting themselves in the incident in Peedsville. The idea that an inquisitive woman would be deemed a danger to the survival of a nation. And to think that she could quite as easily have her life taken away is incredulous. But, "Dr. Fay was very dangerous, she was what they call a cripto-female (crypto?), the most dangerous kind. He had exposed her and purified the situation." The belief that the "evil part" of man is woman confounds me.

I am intrigued by the city listings, especially since one of them is Lubbock, Texas. On the radar that contains New Delhi, Johannesburg, Tripoli, Brisbane, and even Sao Paulo, how does Lubbock feature? I get it, this is an all out war against women, and it is being felt in all the aforementioned cities. There is no hope, no intervention; not even from the UN.

News gleaned from The Miami Herald reveals that a lot that has changed in the time since Alan had been to the US. Women seem to be particularly at risk, and so the fact that he is heading home to his woman and daughter sets the scene for some interesting drama. Meantime, femicide is being viewed as a mania that will run its course and fade away.

Questions: What association is there between technological advancement, population pressure and the susceptibility of women? What about prevention?
Insight: Alan is suffering a real conflict of crisis: the people he most longs for he cannot be with for fear.


Human cruelty, love, gender, violence, aliens, mass death, religion. One thought, as with Greek tragedy, that there would be a savior last minute. No such luck! When it comes down to it, people are not in control--something else, perhaps genes? psychosis? why else would Alan so in love with his two gals succumb? All these themes come alive, thanks to the story's narrative structure: first person interspersed with documentation (also first person) that give us a glimpse into other scenes and form a cohesive pattern that in the end comes full circle.

The Women that Men don't See

An adventure story that involves Ruth Parsons, who has hired a private plane piloted by Captain Estéban, and is taking a trip to Chetumal (Guatemala?) a location in South America along with her daughter Althea. A hitchhiker, Don Fenton, also the narrator comes along. A plane crash strands all four in a desolate area, where lack of fresh water sends Ruth and Don looking for fresh water. We learn that Ruth, like her mother, and possibly her daughter (will) never married. Ruth carries intense distrust for the male dominated society. This disposition sets the scene for her attraction to the student aliens....

The description of the moments before the crash, "One important noise is missing—the motor. I realize Estéban is fighting a dead plane. Thirty-six hundred; we've lost two thousand feet." the situation is quite precarious, for as the narrator says, "It dawns on me we may be here quite some while." That sets the scene pretty good.

I am trying to get to the root of "women that men don't see" in this tale. So far Fenton sees the women, but continually points out their unattractiveness. "Neat," he says, "but definitely not sexy." I find this disconcerting, especially given that these women don't seem to be inclined to look at themselves that way. The exchange between Mrs Parsons and Fenton is telling of his stereotypical attitude to women, she, who confounds them all and proves herself adept at fending off inquisitiveness. Whatever one can say about Fenton, he does have lust on his mind; pining for Ruth, imagining Althea with the Mayan, as if being Mayan and mating with a Caucasian is itself an anomaly.

In any case, here we go again with the discrimination, "Ruth, are you telling me you're prepared to accept a half-Indian grandchild?"It seems to me you can through fiction escape all the things you hate about our world of woes but you cannot escape your prejudices. So far, all the writers we have read have proved this over and over. Despite Ruth's reassurances to the contrary, Fenton keeps pushing the issue, now widening the net to include the father of Althea.

Houston, Houston
Race and gender and the war between the sexes...Tiptree will always be true to herself. Here, she presents us with a sad and joyous exploration of in/vulnerability. Lorimer reminisces with shame an incident that left him exposed before girls in Junior High. Moylan offers that that incident sort of emasculated him and so he spent his days trying to prove his manhood. That may explain his vocation. It does, according to Tipree explain his dsitaste for the female who he calls "natural poisoners." Describing himself as the "token scientist," we can't help but anticipate his role in this saga. Going by the sequence I am reading this, Lorimer is the first scientist thus far in Tiptree's saga. And then there is NASA in Houston, and the setting all in a spaceship. where communication with the US space mission is being intercepted, a federal offense.

For scientists, guesstimating seems a little odd, but then again... Apparently Sunbird's been missing for a long time and White Sands has long replaced Houston. Would that be White Sands New Mexico?In Scraps of the untainted, Tom Moylan writes that Lorimer's effort to recall one of "the best descriptions of the etymological process" (16). Tiptree manages to display a brain "expanding, understanding actively" as he attempts to get himself re-acquainted with the times. Tiptree depicts the women as being adept at their vocation, unlike the men, who seem to be struggling with coming to terms with their situation. Moylan observes that Lorimer is not the "alpha male that the other two are."

Given his background, it i fitting that it is Lorimer, who is able to "decode" the women, so to speak. To readjust, he unfortunately looks to his buddies, who are unable to help him, while shunning the women who he "gets" leaves him in limbo. Unlike the dominant-subordinate structure he is accustomed to, these women rule by consensus. Interestingly, Bud still looks at the female populace as there to service him. One could say that Tiptree uses Bud as the poster boy for all male thing evil--rapist, violent, chauvinist, prejudiced. Yak!

Interesting issues:
dominance-submission structure seems to reinforce the notion of societal dominance and how much it takes a hold on individuals. Professed freedom cannot stand in the way of domination. Reminds me of all these Republicans bowing before tht altar of uch Limbaugh. Soon, JM will do his own mia culpa before the great great leader. North Korea anyone?

Love is the Plan the Plan is Death
A bizarre story with an underlying gendered power struggle--Tiptree's favorite theme. There is is the power relationship between Moggadeet Lilliloo characterized by dominance, as Moggadeet subdues Lilliloo through force at the pretext of caring for her. This power relationship is however inverted with Moggadeet not simply subdued but devoured.

"Oh, Lilliloo, greatest of Mothers.

It was not I who was your Mother. You were mine.

Shining and bossed you lay, your armor newly grown, your mighty hunting limbs thicker than my head! What I had created. You! A Supermother, a Mother such as none have ever seen!"

There is something bizarre about this relationship.

Turns out the true power is with Lilliloo.

The questions I am left with after reading these short stories are:
Why are the men so consistently jerks? Is Tiptree channeling the reality of gender relations at the time, or are these a result of her own idiosyncrasies? A result of her life experiences perhaps? And why are women presented as if they have always already lost? Tiptree's women are also plain and unattractive; Connie Constantia Morales is described as "moonshaped."I wonder what's up with that.

The Girl Who Was Plugged
Typical science fiction- tragic story that revolves around the worn out concept of plugging the human brain into a computer for purposes of controlling a different body. Philadelphia Burke, disfigured street girl is the girl who was plugged in. Her body is barely functional. That is until help comes along in the form of science. What follows is a bizarre series that sees Burke's mind linked to that of Delphi, who in turn relays brain manifest themselves in the form of Delphi, a vat grown clone with no mind of her own; her brain just a relay, linked to P. Burke’s mind. The two become intertwined.

Burke, is of course, an outcast.
The high tech and cyber elements of the story are almost cast as characters. They function as tools of integration—the technology that penetrates the human body. One acknowledged incident is where Paul tells Burke that "on the coast the police have electrodes in their heads." This aspect redefines Burke's identity in the body of Delphi. She comes to think of herself as Delphi, wants to be Delphi, wants to escape her ugly body and live within Delphi forever. I wondered, did Delphi come into existence for a while, at least? How does Burke's death coordinate with Delphi's body and allow her to hang onto life for a while.

What is the role of the so-called beautiful gods worshiped by Burke? The element of total control of communication is reminiscent of The Machine Stops, wherein the implication is that if you think outside the norm, you are outed. You are taken care of…reigned in. I see a dystopia here; What with hope, love, and justice all and forgotten. As well, the idea of people being disposable is evident. Just like automation replaces workers on assembly lines, Paul seems slated to replace his father as director of GTX, the one body he tried hard to fight and change.

Major themes of science fiction:
What is it to be human?
How do I relate to the other

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