I hope you enjoyed the class!
Teacher Barb :)
So, for your LAST assignment for this class, which book did you like the best and WHY? Which film did you lie the best and WHY? Be specific, and respond by Friday at midnight in 250-300 words.
I hope you enjoyed the class!
Teacher Barb :)
Well, here we are--the next to the last blog for the course. Hopefully you have gotten some reading done over the break as you need to have the book finished by this weekend! My questions for this book will seem deceptively simple:
Discuss Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics and how they impact at least ONE specific event in this novel:
Do these laws make sense to you? Why or why not?
Do you agree with the way Elijah handled the resolution of this story? Why or why not?
However, to answer these questions, you will need to have finished this book and given some serious thought to what I am really asking you!
It's interesting to note that Asimov's Three Laws have become accepted as operating principles for many authors. Do you think they might apply to R2D2, 3CPO, and BB8? Something to think about!
Don't forget to respond to the three main questions above by Friday night at midnight, and then respond to a classmate's post by Sunday night at midnight!
Teacher Barb :)
While A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantasy novel, it deals with the timeless literary theme of the hero and his journey. This theme appears in the earliest works of literature we know [Gilgamesh, The Biblical stories of Abraham and Jonah, Homer's Illiad and Odyssey, and Beowulf], and it is still common in contemporary novels and film [even Frozen and Despicable Me 2 have a hero and a quest!].
According to http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Hero, a HERO can be defined as follows:
How are heroes made? Whether the hero appears in an epic poem or a contemporary novel, all heroes seem to share one experience that marks them as heroes: a character [sometimes a quite unlikely one, such as Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire] undertakes a journey [or quest], and in so doing, regardless of the outward purpose of the journey/quest, this character has experiences and learns something about himself becoming a hero in the process. And that is exactly what Ged does in A Wizard of Earthsea--he finds himself as a result of a journey.
Joseph Campbell described the hero's journey as occurring in a cycle consisting of three phases: Departure, where the hero leaves his comfortable and familiar world and ventures into the darkness of the unknown; Initiation, where the hero is subjected to a series of tests in which he must prove his character; and Return, in which the hero brings the boon of his quest back for the benefit of his people.
The hero's journey is about growth and passage. The journey requires a separation from the comfortable, known world, and an initiation into a new level of awareness, skill, and responsibility, and then a return home. Each stage of the journey must be passed successfully if the initiate is to become a hero. To turn back at any stage is to reject the need to grow and mature. http://www.uky.edu/~aubel2/eng104/myth/hero.pdf
Do you agree with Joseph Campbell's explanation of the hero's journey and its three-part cycle? How does Ged's journey fit Joseph Campbell's description of the this three-part cycle? Regardless of where you are in your reading, identify where Ged is in relation to Campbell's cycle [Departure, Initiation, or Return], and explain why you believe this is correct.
Teacher Barb :)
A Wizard of Earthsea has an interesting central premise—that the names of things have power and should not be used lightly. The protagonist in this novel, Ged, has different names, and this can be tricky for you as a reader. But, there is a reason for this... In many cultures, the act of naming a child is very important and confers a power on the person giving the name. However, as TS Eliot's poem "The Naming of Cats” makes clear, living things have more than just the name someone gave them:
The Naming Of Cats by T. S. Eliot
The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn't just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I'm as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
First of all, there's the name that the family use daily,
Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
Such as Victor or Jonathan, George or Bill Bailey--
All of them sensible everyday names.
There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter--
But all of them sensible everyday names.
But I tell you, a cat needs a name that's particular,
A name that's peculiar, and more dignified,
Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum-
Names that never belong to more than one cat.
But above and beyond there's still one name left over,
And that is the name that you never will guess;
The name that no human research can discover--
But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
His ineffable effable
Deep and inscrutable singular Name.
In the Bible we know that when a person's name is changed, it reflects an inner change--Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel... Most of you also have more than just the name your parents gave you—some of you have nicknames--either given to you or by you, and some of you have renamed yourselves in online games and in other cyber universes--a name you chose for yourself which may have nothing to do with either your “real” name or your “nickname.”
Think about this, and Eliot's poem, and then comment upon the use of names in A Wizard of Earthsea. Be careful not to give away any plot twists as we may all be in different places in our reading; use that warning: Spoiler Alert!
I hope you are enjoying this change of pace to fantasy!
Teacher Barb :)
There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint. It was pale, naked, starved-looking in what fleeting glimpse anyone on The Pride of Chanur had had of it. Evidently no one had reported it to station authorities, nor did The Pride. Involving oneself in others’ concerns at Meetpoint Station, where several species came to trade and provision, was ill-advised—at least until one was personally bothered. Whatever it was, it was bipedal, brachiate, and quick at making itself unseen. It had surely gotten away from someone, and likeliest were the kif, who had a thieving finger in everything, and who were not above kidnapping. Or it might be some large, bizarre animal: the mahendo’sat were inclined to the keeping and trade of strange pets, and Station had been displeased with them in that respect on more than one occasion. So far it had done nothing. Stolen nothing. No one wanted to get involved in question and answer between original owners and station authorities; and so far no official statement had come down from those station authorities and no notice of its loss had been posted by any ship, which itself argued that a wise person should not ask questions. The crew reported it only to the captain and chased it, twice, from The Pride’s loading area. Then the crew got to work on necessary duties, having settled the annoyance to their satisfaction.
It was the last matter on the mind of the noble, the distinguished captain Pyanfar Chanur, who was setting out down her own rampway for the docks. She was hani, this captain splendidly maned and bearded in red-gold… and she was dressed as befitted a hani of captain’s rank, blousing scarlet breeches tucked up at her waist with a broad gold belt, with silk cords of every shade of red and orange wrapping that about, each knotted cord with a pendant jewel on its dangling end. Gold finished the breeches at her knees. Gold filigree was her armlet. And a row of fine gold rings and a large pendent pearl decorated the tufted sweep of her left ear. She strode down her own rampway in the security of ownership, still high-blooded from a quarrel with her niece—and yelled and bared claws as the intruder came bearing down on her.
And with this opening, we are off on an adventure in Compact Space where several species dwell:
Think about the description we first have of Tully—Pyanfar describes him in terms we might use for a cockroach or a rat! And yet, the descriptions WE are given as readers of the various species at Meetpoint Station clearly indicate that to OUR eyes, many of the “people” at Meetpoint would appear to be }”less-than-human” to us!. Between the various aliens we are trying to get used to and the strange names and the fast pace of the action [Pyanfar “blows” station before we have read 25 pages!], this is a very different novel from those we have read before. What are some of your first impressions of either the author’s style or the universe in which the novel is set and the species who inhabit that universe? Is there anything that has particularly caught your attention so far? What is it? Remember, be careful about alerting us if you will be revealing a “spoiler” to those of us who may not be as far into the novel as you!
Don't forget--you need to post a response to my questions or an original response with your OWN questions, and then you must post in response to someone else's post before the end of the week [midnight on Saturday!].
Enjoy your reading!
Teacher Barb :)
"Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.”
― Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles
Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles should be an easier read for most of you than Frank Herbert's Dune. Some of you, however, may find the concept of a collection of short stories which are loosely related into one "story" somewhat confusing. The Martian Chronicles as set in the future when it was written, but time has overtaken it, and many of the stories now are set in a "future" that never happened. Still, the stories ARE relevant as Bradbury was not concerned so much with technology as he was with social issues. The "chapters" deal with a variety of issues that plague humanity even today, years after these stories were written: colonization [think Europeans and American Indians], racism, mob mentality, loss/loneliness, and censorship. This is speculative fiction at its most thought-provoking.
This week, choose two of the stories from The Martian Chronicles that focus on the same social issue and compare their treatment of that issue. Do the two stories each portray the social issue effectively? Provide examples of this. Is one story more effective than the other? Why? Be specific...
Please make your first post by Thursday at midnight and your post in response to a classmate's post by Saturday at midnight!
Teacher Barb :)
OK, I saw of you enthralled and others of you annoyed.... No, the movie does NOT follow the book exactly! We have talked about this--each medium has its strengths and weaknesses, and while an engaged reader makes connections in his/her head while reading, a film is an audio-visual experience. Each medium will need to do certain things to tell its story to an audience. So, here's your chance... This week's blog topic is the book versus the movie! By FRIDAY night [since we need time to finish the film], you need to point out THREE [or more, for some of you who are VERY annoyed!] things which were done differently in the film--these can be three things which were better, three things which were worse, or three things which were just different but which you were OK with. I am looking for specifics, nit just a list! Again, you can mention more than three, but you need to discuss AT LEAST THREE. For your second post, by Sunday night at midnight, respond to at least one of your classmate's posts. Let's see what kind of a discussion we can get going here for our last post of the quarter!
Teacher Barb :)
Bless the Maker and all His Water.
Bless the coming and going of Him,
May His passing cleanse the world.
May He keep the world for his people.
Dune was first published in 1965, and the novel has had an enormous impact on popular culture. Dune's sandworms have captured the attention of many creative people, and the worms have appeared in various forms in a variety of media, from comic strips [such as the FoxTrot strip, above, by Bill Amend, published on August 23, 2015] to movies [for example, Beetlejuice and Star Wars]. The sandworms were not native to Arrakis--they were actually brought to the planet thousands of years before the novel's setting, and it is because of the worms that Arrakis is a desert planet--the worms cannot tolerate water, so in their "larval" stage, as sandtrout, they "encysted" Dune's water and caused the desertification of the planet. A byproduct of this desertification process is the "spice" melange which is the treasure of Arrakis.
Because we are all in different places with our reading [although we are all supposed to be in Book III this week...], a safe topic, hopefully, is Shai Halud--the Fremen name for the sandworms.
Regardless of where you are in the book, you can surely add something to our understanding of the novel through a discussion of how the sandworms, their behaviors, and/or byproducts, whether Spice or the Water of Life or even crysknives, are linked with a character in the novel.
Yes, this will be a tricky blog entry--you don't have a specific question to answer or a prompt to respond to, but you ARE charged with creating a post that will begin with the sandworms and result in a discussion which can include all of us, regardless of whether we have read past page 50 or are closing in on the end of the novel. Please note that anything which may give away important points to readers who are behind you in reading should be introduced with a notation of a possible SPOILER ALERT.
I am looking forward to some interesting comments this week!
Teacher Barb :)
We begin our next novel with an overload of information for some of you. Dune is complex; both the novel and the planet have multiple layers, and things are not always as they seem at first glance. The world of the novel blends action with mysticism, technology with environmentalism, and great political houses with lonely desert sietches. Dune has been called the greatest science fiction novel ever written. While I might not go that far, I would agree that it is definitely in the top ten! At 489 pages without the appendices, this is a long novel, so you will need to read at a faster pace than you did with Ender's Game.
The number of characters introduced in Book I, "Dune," is mind-boggling, and it is hard to remember who is who, at first, but once you get into the novel, you will discover that the main plot involves a core cast of characters who are memorable individuals.
House Atreides includes: Duke Leto of Caladan; his concubine, Jessica; their son, Paul [also known as Maud'Dib]; their daughter, Alia; the physician, Wellington Yueh; the mentat, Thufir Hawat; the "troubadour-warrior, Gurney Hallack; and the swordmaster, Duncan Idaho.
House Harkonnen, enemies of the Atreides, includes: The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen; his nephews Feyd-Rautha and Rabban; and the mentat Piter.
Other characters who are introduced in this section of the novel include: the Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, the Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother, the planetary ecologist Pardot Kynes, and the Fremen Mapes and Stilgar.
We are scheduled to finish this book by October 27th [the postcards are due October 28th], so you need to read steadily, completing Book I: "Dune" by Saturday night. My questions for you this week include the following:
Try to stay within Book I: "Dune" in your responses. We will move on to Book II: "Muad'Dib" next week, so you need to keep reading!
Teacher Barb :)
Now that we have finished the book, we get to watch the movie adaptation of Ender's Game--something we have all been looking forward too! For this week's blog post, I would like to know what you think of the movie compared to the book. Some of you may focus on the special effects--and they ARE amazing! Some of you may focus on the choice of actor to portray a character--is this how you pictured the character? Characters might include:
I hope you are enjoying the film, but don't forget that you need to get started on reading Dune.
I expect each of you to contribute a MINIMUM of twice a week to the blog--once to post a question or discussion point for the novel we are reading [250-300 words], and once in answer to someone else's post [50-100 words... Not just "Me too!" responses]. The blog is in lieu of keeping a journal for each book we will read during the semester, and I am really interested in how well this will focus our class discussions of our reading! Of course, it will count as part of your grade as well, so I am expecting thoughtful and thought-provoking entries from each of you!