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Sirens of Titan

Sirens of Titan Cover

“Oh Lord Most High, Creator of the Cosmos, Spinner of Galaxies, Soul of Electromagnetic Waves, Inhaler and Exhaler of Inconceivable Volumes of Vacuum, Spitter of Fire and Rock, Trifler with Millennia — what could we do for Thee that Thou couldst not do for Thyself one octillion times better? Nothing. What could we do or say that could possibly interest Thee? Nothing. Oh, Mankind, rejoice in the apathy of our Creator, for it makes us free and truthful and dignified at last. No longer can a fool point to a ridiculous accident of good luck and say, ‘Somebody up there likes me.’ And no longer can a tyrant say, ‘God wants this or that to happen, and anyone who doesn’t help this or that to happen is against God.’ O Lord Most High, what a glorious weapon is Thy Apathy, for we have unsheathed it, have thrust and slashed mightily with it, and the claptrap that has so often enslaved us or driven us into the madhouse lies slain!” -The prayer of the Reverend C. Horner Redwine”
― Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

Saturn from Titan

THE BELL JAR

Sylvia Reading

The Bell Jar is American writer and poet Sylvia Plath’s only novel, which was originally published under the pseudonym “Victoria Lucas” in 1963. The novel is semi-autobiographical with the names of places and people changed. The book is often regarded as a roman à clef, with the protagonist’s descent into mental illness paralleling Plath’s own experiences with what may have been clinical depression. Plath committed suicide a month after its first UK publication. The novel was published under Plath’s name for the first time in 1967 and was not published in the United States until 1971, pursuant to the wishes of Plath’s mother and her husband Ted Hughes.

Victoria,

The Bell Jar addresses the question of socially acceptable identity. It examines Esther Greenwood, a young woman from the suburbs of Boston’s, “quest to forge her own identity, to be herself rather than what others expect her to be”. Esther is expected to become a housewife, and a self-sufficient woman, without the options to achieve independence. Esther feels she is a prisoner to domestic duties and she fears the loss of her inner self. The Bell Jar sets out to highlight the problems with oppressive patriarchal society in mid-20th Century America. The men in Esther’s life are all oppressive, whether it is in a physical manner or an emotional one.

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The Swimmer

Book Jacket

The Swimmer” a short story by American author John Cheever, was originally published in The New Yorker on July 18, 1964, and then in the 1964 short story collection, The Brigadier and the Golf Widow. Originally conceived as a novel and pared down from over 150 pages of notes, it is probably Cheever’s most famous and frequently anthologized story. At one point Cheever wanted to parallel the tale of Narcissus, a character in Greek mythology who died while staring at his own reflection in a pool of water, which Cheever dismissed as too restrictive. As published, the story is highly praised for its blend of realism and surrealism, the thematic exploration of suburban America, especially the relationship between wealth and happiness, as well as his use of myth and symbolism.

Burt

In 1968, “The Swimmer” was adapted into a film with the same name, starring Burt Lancaster.

The story begins with Neddy Merrill and his wife lounging at a friend’s pool on a mid-summer’s day. On a whim, Neddy decides to get home by swimming across all the pools in the county, and starts off enthusiastically and full of youthful energy. In the early stops on his journey, he is enthusiastically greeted by friends, who welcome him with drinks. It is readily apparent that he is well-regarded and from an upper-class social standing.

Reflection

Midway through his journey, things gradually take on a darker and ultimately surreal tone. Despite everything taking place over just one afternoon, it becomes unclear how much time has passed. At the beginning of the story, it was clearly mid-summer, but by the end all natural signs point to the season being autumn. Different people Neddy encounters mention misfortune and money troubles he doesn’t remember, and he is outright unwelcome at several houses which should’ve certainly been beneath him. His earlier, youthful energy leaves him, and it becomes increasingly painful and difficult for him to swim on. Finally, he staggers back home, only to find his house decrepit, empty, and abandoned.

A Night To Remember

Titanic

Man On The Moon

Sherlock

Benedict as Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created by author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A London-based “consulting detective” whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.

Robert as Sherlock

Holmes, who first appeared in publication in 1887, was featured in four novels and 56 short stories. The first novel, A Study in Scarlet, appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887 and the second, The Sign of the Four, in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine in 1890. The character grew tremendously in popularity with the first series of short stories in The Strand Magazine, beginning with A Scandal in Bohemia in 1891; further series of short stories and two novels published in serial form appeared between then and 1927. The stories cover a period from around 1880 up to 1914.

Jeremy as Sherlock

All but four stories are narrated by Holmes’s friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson; two are narrated by Holmes himself (“The Blanched Soldier” and “The Lion’s Mane”) and two others are written in the third person (“The Mazarin Stone” and “His Last Bow”). In two stories (“The Musgrave Ritual” and “The Gloria Scott“), Holmes tells Watson the main story from his memories, while Watson becomes the narrator of the frame story. The first and fourth novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Valley of Fear, each include a long interval of omniscient narration recounting events unknown to either Holmes or Watson.

Basil as Sherlock

The Time Machine

The Time Machine

J&H

In Cold Blood

Kesey

 

The Last Detail

The Last Detail is a 1973 American comedy-drama film directed by Hal Ashby and starring Jack Nicholson, with a screenplay adapted by Robert Towne from a novel of the same name by Daryl Ponicsan. The film became known for its frequent use of profanity. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Navy sailors, Billy “Badass” Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and “Mule” Mulhall (Otis Young) are assigned shore patrol detail to escort young sailor Larry Meadows (Randy Quaid) to Portsmouth Naval Prison near Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Meadows has drawn a stiff eight-year sentence for a petty crime: trying to steal $40 from a mite box of the C.O.’s wife’s favorite charity. During their train trip up the northeast corridor, the oddly likeable Meadows begins to grow on the two Navy “lifers”; they know the grim reality of the Marine guards at Portsmouth, and feel sorry he’ll miss his youth serving his sentence. They decide to show him a good time before delivering him to the brig.

With several days to spare before they are due in Portsmouth, the trio detrains at the major cities along the route to provide bon-voyage adventures for Meadows. In Washington they take him to a bar to have a beer, but are denied because Meadows is too young. Buddusky gets a few six packs and a hotel room, and the three get drunk. In Philadelphia they seek out Meadows’s mother, only to find her away for the day and the house cluttered with empty whiskey bottles. In New York, they take him ice skating at Rockefeller Center and then in Boston, to a brothel to lose his virginity. In between, they brawl with Marines in a public restroom, dine on “the world’s finest” Italian sausage sandwich, chant with Nichiren Shōshū Buddhists and open intimate windows for each other in swaying train coaches. Meadows pronounces his several days with Badass and Mule to be the best of his whole life.

When they finally arrive in frozen Portsmouth, Meadows has a final request – a picnic – so they buy some hot dogs and attempt a frigid picnic in the crunching snow. Docile Meadows walks along the park, seemingly ready to head to prison. He suddenly bolts, though, in a last-ditch effort to run away. Buddusky runs after him, catches him, and pistol-whips him fiercely. Mulhall and Buddusky then brusquely take Meadows to the prison, execute the Navy paperwork, and after being released from their detail, they stride away angrily, berating the marines they have encountered at the prison – and about how hopefully their orders will come through when they get back to Norfolk.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by nuclear war during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards an animal.

The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is faced with “retiring” six escaped Nexus-6 brain model androids, the latest and most advanced model, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-normal intelligence who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard’s mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no empathic sense. In essence, Deckard probes the existence of defining qualities that separate humans from androids.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? takes place in the year 1992 (2021 in later editions), projecting 25 years in the future after the author’s 1967 writing, after World War Terminus and its radioactive fallout have destroyed most of Earth. The U.N. encourages emigration to off-world colonies, in hope of preserving the human race from the terminal effects of the fallout. One emigration incentive is giving each emigrant an “andy” — a servant android.

The remaining populace live in cluttered, decaying cities wherein radiation poisoning sickens them and damages their genes. Animals are rare, and keeping and owning live animals is an important societal norm and status symbol. But many people turn towards the much cheaper synthetic, or electric, animals to keep up the pretense. Prior to the story’s beginning Rick Deckard owned a real sheep, but it died of tetanus, and he replaced it with an electric one.

The story is set in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco was one of the last places affected by the radioactive dust, especially on the peninsula to the south. It is monitored daily by meteorologists using the Mongoose weather satellite in Earth’s orbit. While still relatively habitable, the sandy deserts of Oregon to the north are highly contaminated by radiation. Rick Deckard stays in a building on the east-side of the bay with his wife, Iran, who is depressed. J.R. Isidore lives on the peninsula south of San Francisco.

The main Earth religion is Mercerism, in which Empathy Boxes link simultaneous users into a collective consciousness based on the suffering of Wilbur Mercer, a man who takes an endless walk up a mountain while stones are thrown at him, the pain of which the users share. The television appearances of Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends, broadcast twenty-three hours a day, represents a second religion, designed to undermine Mercerism and allow androids to partake in a kind of consumerist spirituality.

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Catch - 22

The Jungle Book…

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The Jungle Book (1894) is a collection of stories by English Nobel laureate Rudyard Kipling. The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94. The original publications contain illustrations, some by Rudyard’s father, John Lockwood Kipling. Kipling was born in India and spent the first six years of his childhood there. After about ten years in England, he went back to India and worked there for about six-and-half years. These stories were written when Kipling lived in Vermont.

The tales in the book (and also those in The Second Jungle Book which followed in 1895, and which includes five further stories about Mowgli) are fables, using animals in an anthropomorphic manner to give moral lessons. The verses of The Law of the Jungle, for example, lay down rules for the safety of individuals, families and communities. Kipling put in them nearly everything he knew or “heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle.” Other readers have interpreted the work as allegories of the politics and society of the time. The best-known of them are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned “man cub” Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle. The most famous of the other stories are probably “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”, the story of a heroic mongoose, and “Toomai of the Elephants”, the tale of a young elephant-handler. As with much of Kipling’s work, each of the stories is preceded by a piece of verse, and succeeded by another.

The Jungle Book, because of its moral tone, came to be used as a motivational book by the Cub Scouts, a junior element of the Scouting movement. This use of the book’s universe was approved by Kipling after a direct petition of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, who had originally asked for the author’s permission for the use of the Memory Game from Kim in his scheme to develop the morale and fitness of working-class youths in cities. Akela, the head wolf in The Jungle Book, has become a senior figure in the movement, the name being traditionally adopted by the leader of each Cub Scout pack.

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Being There

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Some quotes from the film, ‘Being There’.

[Riding in a car for the first time]
Chance the Gardener: This is just like television, only you can see much further.

[upon walking out of an elevator]
Chance the Gardener: That was a very small room.

Ron Steigler: Mr. Gardner, uh, my editors and I have been wondering if you would consider writing a book for us, something about your um, political philosophy, what do you say?
Chance the Gardener: I can’t write.
Ron Steigler: Heh, heh, of course not, who can nowadays? Listen, I have trouble writing a postcard to my children. Look uhh, we can give you a six figure advance, I’ll provide you with the very best ghost-writer, proof-readers…
Chance the Gardener: I can’t read.
Ron Steigler: Of course you can’t! No one has the time! We, we glance at things, we watch television…
Chance the Gardener: I like to watch TV.
Ron Steigler: Oh, oh, oh sure you do. No one reads!

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[With other poor black seniors, watching Chance on TV]
Louise: It’s for sure a white man’s world in America. Look here: I raised that boy since he was the size of a piss-ant. And I’ll say right now, he never learned to read and write. No, sir. Had no brains at all. Was stuffed with rice pudding between th’ ears. Shortchanged by the Lord, and dumb as a jackass. Look at him now! Yes, sir, all you’ve gotta be is white in America, to get whatever you want. Gobbledy-gook!

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[last lines]
President “Bobby”: Life is a state of mind.

The Dice Man is…

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The Dice Man is a novel published in 1971 by George Cockcroft under the pen name Luke Rhinehart and tells the story of a psychiatrist who begins making life decisions based on the casting of dice. Cockcroft wrote the book based on his own experiences of using dice to make decisions while studying psychology. The novel is noted for its subversivity, anti-psychiatry sentiments and for reflecting moods of the early 1970s. Due to its subversive nature and chapters concerned with controversial issues such as rape, murder and sexual experimentation, it was banned in several countries.[2] Upon its initial publication, the cover bore the confident subheader, “Few novels can change your life. This one will” and quickly became a modern cult classic.

The book went through a number of republishings – in the United States it acquired the even more confident subheader “This book will change your life”, in spite of its being a highly edited version of the original. It was initially less successful than in the United Kingdom and Scandinavia.

The themes of the book are continued in two other novels, The Search for the Dice Man and Adventures of Wim and a companion title, The Book of the Die.

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Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess,

Clockwork Orange. Anthony Burgess,

Fahrenheit 451 …

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Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and firemen burn any house that contains them.

The novel has been the subject of various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context.

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François Truffaut wrote and directed a film adaptation of the novel in 1966. At least two BBC Radio 4 dramatisations have also been aired, both of which follow the book very closely.

The book’s title refers to the temperature that Bradbury understood to be the autoignition point of book paper.

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Oskar Garvens, book cover, Germany, 1925

Oskar Garvens, book cover, Germany, 1925

Das Boot (Germa…

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Das Boot (German pronunciation: [das ˈboːt], German meaning “The Boat“) is a 1981 German epic war film written and directed by Wolfgang Petersen, produced by Günter Rohrbach, and starring Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer, and Klaus Wennemann. It has been exhibited both as a theatrical release and as a TV miniseries, and in several different home video versions of various running times.

Das Boot is an adaption of the 1973 German novel of the same name by Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Set during World War II, the film tells the fictional story of U-96 and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country. The screenplay used an amalgamation of exploits from the real U-96, a Type VIIC-class U-boat.

Development for Das Boot began in 1979. Several American directors were considered three years earlier before the film was shelved. During the film’s production, Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the captain of the real U-96 and one of Germany’s top U-boat “tonnage aces” during the war, and Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on U-219, served as consultants. One of Petersen’s goals was to guide the audience through “a journey to the edge of the mind” (the film’s German tagline Eine Reise ans Ende des Verstandes), showing “what war is all about”.

Produced with a budget of 32 million DM (about $18.5 million), the film was released on September 17, 1981 and was later released in 1997 in a director’s cut version supervised by Petersen. It grossed over $80 million ($190.2 million in 2009 prices) worldwide between its theatrical releases and received critical acclaim. Its high production cost ranks it among the most expensive films in the history of German cinema. It was the second most expensive up until that time, after Metropolis.

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Battle Royale t…

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Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline—Japan is a member region of a totalitarian state known as the Republic of Greater East Asia. Under the guise of a “study trip”, a group of students from Shiroiwa Junior High School in the fictional town of Shiroiwa, in Kagawa Prefecture, are gassed on a bus. They awaken in the Okishima Island School on Okishima, an isolated, evacuated island southwest of Shodoshima (modeled after the island of Ogijima). They learn that they have been placed in an event called the Program. Officially a military research project, it is a means of terrorizing the population, of creating such paranoia as to make organized insurgency impossible.

The first Program was held in 1947. According to the rules, fifty third-year junior high school classes are selected (prior to 1950, forty-seven classes were selected) annually to participate in the Program for research purposes. The students from a single class are isolated and are required to fight the other members of their class to the death. The Program ends when only one student remains, with that student being declared the winner. Their movements are tracked by metal collars, which contain tracking and listening devices; if any student should attempt to escape the Program, or enter declared forbidden zones (which are randomly selected at the hours of 12 and 6, both a.m. and p.m.), a bomb will be detonated in the collar, killing the wearer. If no one dies within any 24-hour period, all collars will be detonated simultaneously and there will be no winner.

After being briefed about the Program, the students are issued survival packs that include a map, compass, food and water, and a random weapon or other item, which may be anything from a gun to a paper fan. During the briefing, two students (Fumiyo Fujiyoshi and Yoshitoki Kuninobu) anger the supervisor, Kinpatsu Sakamochi, who kills both. As the students are released onto the island, they each react differently to their predicament; beautiful delinquent Mitsuko Souma murders those who stand in her way using deception, Hiroki Sugimura attempts to find his best friend and his secret love, Kazuo Kiriyama attempts to win the game by any means necessary (stemming from his lack of ability to feel human emotion due to a brain injury sustained in a car crash while in utero) and Shinji Mimura makes an attempt to escape with his best friend Yutaka Seto.

See also, Peter Watkins film, ‘Gladiators.’ 1969.

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Four Atlanta bu…

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Four Atlanta businessmen, Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Ed (Jon Voight), Bobby (Ned Beatty) and Drew (Ronny Cox), decide to canoe down a river in the remote North Georgian wilderness, expecting to have fun and see the glory of nature before the fictional Cahulawassee River valley is flooded by the construction of a dam. Lewis, an experienced outdoorsman, is the leader. Ed is also a veteran of several trips but lacks Lewis’s machismo. Bobby and Drew are novices.

The four are clearly the outsiders in this rural location. The crude locals are unimpressed by the “city boys”; it is also implied that some of the locals are inbred and educationally subnormal. While attempting to secure drivers for their vehicles (to be delivered to the takeout point), Drew briefly connects with a local banjo-playing boy by joining him in an impromptu bluegrass jam by playing Dueling Banjos. When they finish, however, the boy turns away without saying anything, refusing the effusive Drew’s handshake. The four men exhibit a slightly condescending attitude toward the locals; Bobby, in particular, is very patronizing and even derides the locals to his companions for seeming to display genetic defects.

 …

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I also know that the shock of Annabel’s death consolidated the frustration of that nightmare summer, made of it a permanent obstacle to any further romance throughout the cold years of my youth. The spiritual and the physical had been blended in us with a perfection that must remain incomprehensible to the matter-of-fact, crude, standard-brained youngsters of today. Long after her death I felt her thoughts floating through mine. Long before we met we had had the same dreams. We compared notes. We found strange affinities. The same June of the same year (1919) a stray canary had fluttered into her house and mine, in two widely separated countries. Oh, Lolita, had you loved me thus!

I have reserved for the conclusion of my “Annabel” phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards–presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct, as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half-pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again; and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion.

 Opening from …

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Opening from J.G.Ballards 1977 short story, ‘The Intensive Care Unit’.

Within a few minutes the next attack will begin. Now that I am surrounded for the first time by all the members of my family it seems only fitting that a complete record should be made of this unique event. As I lie here – barely able to breathe, my mouth filled with blood and every tremor of my hands reflected in the attentive eye of the camera six feet away – I realize that there are many who will think my choice of subject a curious one. In all senses, this film will be the ultimate homemovie, and I only hope that whoever watches it will gain some idea of the immense affection I feel for my wife, and for my son and daughter, and of the affection that they, in their unique way, feel for me.

It is now half an hour since the explosion, and everything in this once elegant sitting room is silent. I am lying on the floor by the settee, looking at the camera mounted safely out of reach on the ceiling above my head. In this uneasy stillness, broken only by my wife’s faint breathing and the irregular movement of my son across the carpet, I can see that almost everything I have assembled so lovingly during the past years has been destroyed. My Svres lies in a thousand fragments in the fireplace, the Hokusai scrolls are punctured in a dozen places. Yet despite the extensive damage this is still recognizably the scene of a family reunion, though of a rather special kind.

Continue the rest of this warning about a future where everyone lives in isolation and only communicate through cameras.

Cover painting for Fritz Leiber's Gather Darkness.

Cover painting for Fritz Leiber's Gather Darkness.

The story centr…

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The story centres on Charles Marlow, who narrates most of the book. He is an Englishman who takes a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a river-boat captain in Africa. Heart of Darkness exposes the dark side of European colonization while exploring the three levels of darkness that the protagonist, Marlow, encounters: the darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the Europeans’ cruel treatment of the African natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil. Although Conrad does not give the name of the river, at the time of writing the Congo Free State, the location of the large and important Congo River, was a private colony of Belgium’s King Leopold II. In the story, Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver. However, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization, in a cover-up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region.

This symbolic story is a story within a story or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts his Congolese adventure to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary from dusk through to late night. The passage of time and the darkening sky during Marlow’s narrative parallels the atmosphere of the events he narrates.

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“It’s about the idea of entitlement; (how) through the ages we enforce our feelings of entitlement in whatever way that age will allow — from Leopold II owning the Congo as a private possession to the corporations involved with blood diamonds. The effects of entitlement have not so much gone out of fashion as out of sight.”

“Heart of Darkness is the most important book in the last 100-plus years not because it’s the best, but because it anticipated how 20th century leaders with visions of bringing light and creating new models for humans beings – Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao – all ended up,” he said. “When disappointed by the response of the very groups they wanted to save or help or transform, they, like Kurtz, wish to (and actually do, of course) ‘exterminate all the brutes!'”

They eventually…

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They eventually encounter a subterranean ocean, which they name the Saknussem Ocean, and make a raft from the stems of giant mushrooms to cross it. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean, they pass through the center of the earth and their raft begins circling in a mid-ocean whirlpool. The professor deduces that must be the center of the earth, because the magnetic forces from north and south meeting there are strong enough to snatch away even gold in the form of wedding rings and tooth fillings. They somehow manage to cross the ocean, and, completely exhausted, reach the shore on the other side.

Despite the dangers of their journey, no one has died, but that soon changes. Gertrude, the duck, loses her life to Saknussem, who can’t control his hunger and eats her. Soon after a mild earthquake occurs; Saknussem is buried under a shower of heavy stones, but right behind the collapse the rest of the group comes upon the sunken city of Atlantis. They are now faced with one ominous question: How will they return to the surface?

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Solaris chronic…

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Solaris chronicles the ultimate futility of attempted communications with the extraterrestrial life on a far-distant planet. Solaris, with whom Terran scientists are attempting communication, is almost completely covered with an ocean that is revealed to be a single, planet-encompassing organism. What appear to be waves on its surface are later revealed to be the equivalents of muscle contractions.

Kris Kelvin arrives aboard the scientific research station hovering (via anti-gravity generators) near the oceanic surface of the planet Solaris. The scientists there have studied the planet and its ocean for many decades, a scientific discipline known as Solaristics, which over the years has degenerated to simply observe, record and categorize the complex phenomena that occur upon the surface of the ocean. Thus far, they have only achieved the formal classification of the phenomena with an elaborate nomenclature — yet do not understand what such activities really mean in a strictly scientific sense. Shortly before psychologist Kelvin’s arrival, the crew has exposed the ocean to a more aggressive and unauthorized experimentation with a high-energy X-ray bombardment. Their experimentation gives unexpected results and becomes psychologically traumatic for them as individually flawed humans.

The ocean’s response to their aggression exposes the deeper, hidden aspects of the personalities of the human scientists — whilst revealing nothing of the ocean’s nature itself. To the extent that the ocean’s actions can be understood, the ocean then seems to test the minds of the scientists by confronting them with their most painful and repressed thoughts and memories. It does this via the materialization of physical human simulacra; Kelvin confronts memories of his dead lover and guilt about her suicide. The torments of the other researchers are only alluded to but seem even worse than Kelvin’s personal purgatory.

The ocean’s intelligence expresses physical phenomena in ways difficult for their limited earth science to explain, deeply upsetting the scientists. The alien (extraterrestrial) mind of Solaris is so greatly different from the human mind of (objective) consciousness that attempts at inter-species communications are a dismal failure.

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HG Wells. The Invisible Man

HG Wells. The Invisible Man

Extract. ‘The Time Machine.’ H.G. Wells. (1895)

‘It is simply this. That Space, as our mathematicians have it, is spoken of as having three dimensions, which one may call Length, Breadth, and Thickness, and is always definable by reference to three planes, each at right angles to the others. But some philosophical people have been asking why three dimensions particularly – why not another direction at right angles to the other three? – and have even tried to construct a Four-Dimension geometry. Professor Simon Newcomb was expounding this to the New York Mathematical Society only a month or so ago. You know how on a flat surface, which has only two dimensions, we can represent a figure of a three-dimensional solid, and similarly they think that by models of thee dimensions they could represent one of four – if they could master the perspective of the thing. See?’

‘I think so,’ murmured the Provincial Mayor; and, knitting his brows, he lapsed into an introspective state, his lips moving as one who repeats mystic words. ‘Yes, I think I see it now,’ he said after some time, brightening in a quite transitory manner.

‘Well, I do not mind telling you I have been at work upon this geometry of Four Dimensions for some time. Some of my results are curious. For instance, here is a portrait of a man at eight years old, another at fifteen, another at seventeen, another at twenty-three, and so on. All these are evidently sections, as it were, Three-Dimensional representations of his Four-Dimensioned being, which is a fixed and unalterable thing.’

‘Scientific people,’ proceeded the Time Traveller, after the pause required for the proper assimilation of this, ‘know very well that Time is only a kind of Space. Here is a popular scientific diagram, a weather record. This line I trace with my finger shows the movement of the barometer. Yesterday it was so high, yesterday night it fell, then this morning it rose again, and so gently upward to here. Surely the mercury did not trace this line in any of the dimensions of Space generally recognized? But certainly it traced such a line, and that line, therefore, we must conclude was along the Time-Dimension.’

baldam l'improbable

baldam l'improbable

Snoopy starts a novel.

Snoopy starts a novel.