The Setting Makes All the Difference

This is probably my favorite novel of the course thus far because of the differences it has from the other books we have read. I love the pretense of this unique country that exists pretty much solely for opium production. It’s an interesting setting for a novel that is categorized as science fiction.

Many of the novels we have read have a setting that would belong only in a science fiction novel; Neuromancer had the unique “island-like” resort of Freeside, Lilith’s Brood had those odd, “alive” space ships, and the list goes on. However in “House of the Scorpion”, the setting could transcend into other genres; the setting isn’t what make the novel science fiction. What makes this novel science fiction is the cloning of characters and the chips that are implanted into the brains of people caught trying to run away. I really like that change from the other books. It makes what they are doing seem realer, even if what they are doing is terrible.

I found it interesting that the clone, Matt, was so guarded that he didn’t even understand the concept of pain and the danger of trying to break through a window. It makes the horror of what El Patron is doing even worse. He seems to make his clones totally aware that they are nothing more than just organs for the ready. Though people treat Matt kindly at first when he is taken to the big house for treatment, they are aware he is a clone and don’t feel the same towards him as they do towards humans.

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Pag’s Bullies

Siri and I were friends purely because no one else wanted to be our friends. We were the outcasts, the two “wimps” other kids came and picked on. It wasn’t a fun existence, but it was better than being alone and picked on. Siri had changed since “the operation”. He claims his parents saved him, I think they killed a part of him. They removed part of his brain because of epilepsy, zombie freak come to mind?

Regardless of what I thought he had become, being an outcast ALONE crushed all thoughts of telling my “friend” just to shove off. Maybe that was a mistake…

It had been a while since I had seen Siri but that wasn’t going to stop me from going out and doing things on my own. That had been happening more and more since “the operation”. I had been trying to distance myself from the boy yet stay just close enough that I still had the necessary backup in school that I so desperately needed. But it was Saturday, my day off not only from the taunts and teases but from Siri as well. I decided to go to the park.

The day was pretty glum and so the park was empty save for a few pigeons looking to scavenge anything even remotely edible. I sat down on the swing and pushed off with my feet, slowly rocking back and forth. A couple boys walked by the park, I recognized them from school and knew they were bullies. I looked down hoping they would just pass by without a second glance. No such luck.

“Look at the little freak, all alone on the swing” said the biggest one.

“What a loser” said the guy next to him.

I realized it was probably time to get up and leave. I slowly moved from the swing-

“Ohhh, look he’s trying to get away”

“Get him!”

I was screwed. I ran but my legs didn’t move fast enough and before I knew it they were on top of me. I lay there for what seemed like hours when I saw a familiar face, it was Siri.

I hadn’t seen him in a while but I have to say I was pretty glad to see him. I’m not quite sure what I expected him to do, but what he actually did just reinforced the “zombie freak” image I already had in my mind about him.

The pummeling quickly ceased as I see two guys drop to the ground screaming in agony. Blood was everywhere, what the hell had Siri done?

I turned around just in time to see Siri throw a rock at a third guy and his face crunched with the impact of the rock. As quickly as they came, they were running off like screaming little girls.

I chose this scene because I thought Siri’s introduction in the novel was so strange. Right off the bat he is portrayed as a pretty violent child and it’s interesting how his character develops from there. I wanted to capture Pag’s voice as if this had happened years ago and he was re-telling it as either a teenager or young adult. I wanted to show that Pag had odd feelings regarding his “friend” Siri just like how Siri felt about him.

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Vampires Make the Crew Crazy

“They’re tricks of the mind, the same neurological smoke-and-mirrors that convinced people throughout the ages that they were being haunted by ghosts, abducted by aliens, hunted by—


—and you wonder whether Sarasti really stayed behind or if he was here all along, waiting for you…” (159).

The use of vampires in a Watt’s science fiction novel was kind of a shock to me. Using vampires alongside the aliens is something completely new and innovative in my mind. In this quote, Siri is talking about Sarsati and the fear that the vampire is just waiting for the right moment to consume Siri and the rest of the crew. I feel like in a lot of ways Siri is trying to convince himself that vampires are just a “trick of the mind” and trying to lure himself into a false sense of security. However, it is clear that he is still terrified of what could possibly happen to him. The fear in the crew was apparent from the time they awoke and Sarsati’s coffin was empty. It makes the crew as well as me as a reader feel like, “what the hell was he doing while everyone else was asleep?”. It had to be hard and extremely suspicious to everyone on board to wake up, and find that some of their crew had been replaced and then on top of it their captain is a freaking vampire. That’s enough to make anyone lose their minds, and on top of the crew were already somewhat mentally unstable and experiencing hallucinations.

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A letter to Akin

To my dearest son,

I want you to know I love you very much despite the circumstances in which you were born. I know the existence of your generation may be hard for you to understand; it took me 250 years of hibernation just so my mind could become open enough to accept my alien counterparts, and your alien father. The beautiful world I once knew, and the one I had hoped to share with my first son was destroyed by humans that were too hierarchical. I am sorry you will never see the things I saw but we will enter this new unknown world together, and face the unknowns as a team.

You are very important to the new Earth we are working to create, you are the very first male of the new hybrid species! Think of this as a blessing, you certainly are a blessing to me. I can’t be sure at this point which side’s traits are going to be dominant, or if you will get my eyes or your father’s tentacles, but rest assured you will be loved all the same. This is a journey we will go on together, I will guide you to the best of my ability but all the new things that you are experiencing, will also be new to me; you’re not alone in your confusion about what exactly you are.

There seems to be some dissention among the legitimate humans that are left and I can only hope they do not cause problems for women like me who have hybrid children. I will not allow anyone to harm you or take you from me, your my son and I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.

Love always,



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Easiest to Manipulate Lilith

Lilith to me came off as an over-trusting, somewhat weak character actually. Though she was strong enough to resist talking to the Oankali initially, after her second awakening she gave up her silence and began answering their questions. Once Jdahya appeared in her room, she took everything he said for face value. She immediately trusted everything he was telling her, even the story about her scar. I understand that his story was believable because there was such a long history of cancer in her family but still, how could she not question what else they did to her?

And in fact, as the novel progressed we learn that they had altered her genes in order to make her more immune to other diseases and that the alterations also allowed for her to now be the right person to help awaken the other humans and bring them to turns with what is happening. The Oankali were never straight forward with Lilith, they strung her along, didn’t tell her anything about what they were doing to her and then “fed” her information piece by piece; they would only reveal what they thought was necessary and at their own convenience. I don’t feel like this is an honest way to deal with anyone, it’s not fair to Lilith to force her into cooperation with promises of more information and better food. That isn’t something a friend would do, it sounds more like what kidnappers do to their captors when they want something out of them.

For those reasons I kind of get the feeling that perhaps the reason they chose Lilith to be the person to awaken and help acclimatize the people from earth was not because she was a “strong” person like the Oankali was telling her, but because she was so easily manipulated into believing what they said. She trusted them completely, Jdahya gave her special “treats”; things she hadn’t had in over 250 years. No wonder she took things so easily, if I had pretty much been eating “cardboard” for the last two and half decades, I would go along with my captors too if they were offering me delicious bananas or oranges.

In addition, she hadn’t been out of her “cell” in 250 years either. Jdahya tells her that if she continues behaving, he will allow her to go outside and that “Once you’re able to leave this room with me, I’ll answer your questions,” (26). At this point what other choice does Lilith have but to go along with her captors? She can either be put back to sleep and possibly left for another couple hundred years or just be good and learn to live with what they look like and finally be able to go outside. She probably has such a bad case of cabin fever, she would do ANYTHING to get a look outside again. She was told the Oankali have the gift of perception, that leads me to think they are very good at manipulation also because that allows them to gage a person and decide how to properly handle them. Lilith was an easy target for them because she just believed what they were saying and didn’t try to attack Jdahya so they used that to their advantage and made Lilith the “ambassador” of helping humans come back and understand what is happening.


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Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Throughout “WE3”, these bio-engineered animals are painted as dangerous things that must be destroyed immediately. It is repeatedly reinforced throughout the book by everyone but there creator that they are trained to kill anything and everything and that to allow them to be loose among civilians would cause numerous murders. However, the animal’s actions suggest something different.

When I was reading through the text, the animals kept saying they wanted to go “home” but they didn’t know where that was. In addition they always looked out for one another and tried they fought to keep each other safe. They appeared to be extremely loyal and actually kind animals that had been forced into these killing machines.

Pages 80 and 81 of the book shows the gentle nature of the animals. On the page, a homeless man has found the animals and he feeds them a burger. There is an image of the dog licking the man’s hand and he looks so helpless and sweet. In the image all of his “gear” is cut out of the image probably to reinforce the idea that underneath all of the armor, he is still just a regular dog that wants to be loved and cared for. On page 81, the dog asks the man “Is gud dog?” which is the same phrase he has repeated throughout the entire story. The repetition of the phrase shows the nature of the dog and how he only wants to please his master, most likely in return for love and affection. This made me think that these animals really don’t understand what they are being trained for, they were simply doing what they were told in order to gain the affection they wanted from their creator. These animals were not bad souls, they just got plucked off the streets and forced into something that many humans would consider dangerous. It was more of a case of “wrong place, wrong time” for them than these animals actually being born blood-thirsty killers.


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Getting Lost in Neuromancer

I felt myself get completely lost in the pages of Neuromancer. I am not well with technology or terms related with technology and I found myself having to go back a lot to re-read passages. I agree with Ashley Parker on the point that Gibson does a good job of initially setting up the novel and giving us information on what his future world is like but as the novel progressed, I found myself asking more and more questions that the text didn’t seem to be able to answer (thus far at least). What also made things hard was every time I would find the answer to one of my questions, it would cause three new questions to appear in my mind. I have come to believe, being a rookie when it comes to science fiction, that having questions is a tenet of this genre.

What makes this novel so difficult to read and understand, in my opinion, is all the new technology Gibson is introducing. His descriptions of these strange gadgets are written in what is another language to me. I am in no way tech savvy so to me these technical terms are like trying to learn a foreign language. I found myself constantly wanting to see pictures of the things he was describing, like the bodily modifications Molly has or what Case see’s when he plugs himself into the matrix. I want to be able to see what Gibson see’s when he was formulating these things in his mind and if his interpretation is anywhere near what mine is when I try picturing this world in my mind. I think it would be interesting to see what other people imagine when they are reading this because I have a feeling this is a novel that causes a wide array of different images in different people’s minds.

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Race Issues In Science Fiction

“The Comet” by WEB DuBois had an aspect to it that really made it stand out from other sci-fi pieces: the continuous reminder about the difference of race between Jim and Julia. The racial difference is constantly mentioned, which in my experience is odd for a science fiction story. From the very beginning, there are allusions made which suggest that Jim is black, “Few ever noticed him save in a way that stung”, (253). Right off the bat we get the feeling that Jim is considered inferior in some way.

As the story continues, the issue of Jim being black and Julia being white is brought up frequently. There is the story of the comet which is what brings them together, but the focus keeps going back to the difference in race and how a black man and white woman may have to get together to repopulate the world. This was a radical idea because blacks and whites getting married was more often than not, frowned upon.

This made me begin to question my own definition of what I consider to be science fiction writing. Science fiction, in my opinion, has always been about outer space, aliens, laser guns, ect. However, I feel it is something so much broader. Science fiction is more writing about what is unknown and different. In the 1920’s (not to be condescending in any way) blacks and whites were considered to be two very different sets of people. The cliché with color “only being skin deep” did not apply. So a white person may have considered someone black to be “alien-like” simply because they didn’t know enough about them. This idea is reinforced within the story itself, “…she was alone in the world with a stranger, with something more than a stranger, – with a man alien in blood and culture – unknown, perhaps unknowable”, (264). Therefore, an alien can simply be someone that we don’t understand.

In today’s society, we understand more about different kinds of people and their makeup, so we know that black people are not aliens, however we don’t know much at all about other life that exists in the universe, so aliens from other planets are what take a forefront in today’s works of science fiction. This makes me think that perhaps in 100 years, we may know much more about outer space and extra-terrestrials so maybe science fiction will center around something entirely new that is considered to be “alien”.


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Frankenstein more evil than Walton?

Response to this question:

So do you think Walton’s goal and character is as horrific as Frankenstein’s? Then again, do you think Frankenstein deserves his ill-repute? What separates the two men’s quests? Anything? Is Shelley trying to say something about quests and obsessive hard work–or is she just itching for an excuse to tell a tall tale?

I think you’re absolutely right to link the three characters. I’m joining you in pondering what to make of those similarities!

I don’t believe Walton’s quest for the getting to the North Pole was anything near the evils Frankenstein was creating with his monster. However, I don’t believe Frankenstein realized that he was creating something evil until after he had already created it. He knew there was something “off” about what he was doing because he did feel the need to keep his creation secret, but I don’t think he ever expected the monster to cause so much pain and suffering among him and his family. When the monster asked Frankenstein to create another creature so that he wouldn’t be lonely, Frankenstein initially was going to do it. Though he only was going to do it to protect himself and his family from harm. After thinking about the possible harm another monster might do and the problems that could arise, “I was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight…in murder and wretchedness”, (170). After contemplating this, Frankenstein gave up his work and decided to face whatever wrath the monster would impose upon him. Frankenstein had to learn the hard way with his first creation, but he did realize that creating another monster would most likely cause more problems; for these reasons, I don’t think Frankenstein is an evil man, just an ignorant one.

Ultimately, I feel like Walton and Frankenstein initially had the same goal: to achieve something that had never been done before and be remembered forever in history for it. Walton never achieved his goal; he had to turn around because of the ice but his journey could also have ended in tragedy. If Walton had pushed on, his entire crew could have frozen to death up North. That is what the difference between Frankenstein and Walton is: Frankenstein pushed on in his obsessive journey to create a monster and the result was, not necessarily an evil creature, but something that caused a lot of torment for a lot of people. Walton on the other hand, had the sensibility to listen to his crew members and turn around, and in doing so, most likely prevented the death of his crew members. Walton did have an advantage that Frankenstein didn’t and that was that there were other people around to influence Walton’s actions, “They insisted, therefore, that I should engage with a solemn promise, that if the vessel should be freed I would instantly direct my course southwards”, (217). If Walton had not had a crew and he was alone on his quest, I think he would have pushed himself to his death while trying to reach the North Pole.



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Parallels among Characters

This is the second time I have read this novel and what jarred me reading it the second time around are the beginning letters that Walton is writing to his sister. In a lot of ways, Walton’s wants and desires parallels with not only Frankenstein’s, but with Frankenstein’s monster (which comes in later sections).

Walton longs for knowledge; he is trying to achieve the seemingly impossible task of trying to reach the North Pole. He has been working towards his goal of reaching the North Pole for six years and he is longing to make a difference in the world, “And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish some great purpose? My life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path”,(17). Frankenstein shares these same ambitions for wanting to make a great discovery that will give his name a lifelong legacy. Once Frankenstein got the idea in his head that he wanted to discover the secret of life, he became obsessed and determined to achieve this goal. Walton reveals that he has been working six years just to get to the point where he could begin his voyage to the North Pole. Similarly, Frankenstein had the same passion to achieve his scientific goal of finding the scientific explanation to life and death. He locked himself in his room and worked endlessly day in and day out, “The summer months passed while I was thus engaged, heart and soul, in one pursuit”, (56).

Walton’s story also parallels the monster, as readers learn later. Walton expresses a longing for a friend or companion when writing to his sister, “I have no friend, Margaret; when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in  my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection”, (19). He is a lonely man that has spent his time trying to learn and achieve his goal of going to the North Pole. Frankenstein’s creature feels the same after he is rejected by his creator.


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