Showing 21 - 30 of 82 annotations tagged with the keyword "Science Fiction"

The Calcutta Chromosome

Ghosh, Amitav

Last Updated: Feb-15-2007
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

In the not too distant future, the morose Egyptian, Antar, works in New York City, as a home-based computer employee, monitoring artifacts which he can study holographically through cyber space. He conjures up the I.D. card of one L. Murugan, who had supposedly disappeared in Calcutta back in 1995. Murugan is/was an expert on Nobel laureate Ronald Ross, discoverer of the role of the anopheles mosquito in the transmission of malaria.

Through flashbacks to the intense week of his disappearance and to episodes in the late nineteenth century, the virtual Murugan roams Calcutta trying desperately to understand and expose a subtext of counter science in Ross's laboratory. He is joined by Urmila, a journalist whose life is endangered by their collaboration.

Murugan theorizes that Ross was sloppy, intent on fame and fortune though a simplistic rendering of the parasite-host relationship; his discoveries were fed to him by others and he was blind to the spiritualistic ambitions of Mangala, his Indian laboratory technologist. Conceiving of the powerful significance of malaria prevention and control, Mangala held different views on the purpose and means of investigating the disease and, Murugan thinks, she anticipated the later discovery of another Nobel laureate, J. Wagner-Jauregg, in the use of malaria for the treatment of syphilis. The travels of Murugan and Urmila imply that these views are still there awaiting their own discovery.

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Oryx and Crake: A Novel

Atwood, Margaret

Last Updated: Feb-15-2007
Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Please note that in order to properly annotate this novel, the novel's surprise ending will be revealed here. Snowman--who used to be called, Jimmy--is a rare survivor of a dreadful catastrophe that seems to have been both the product and the demise of modern science. He lives in a tree, clad in rags, hiding from relentless heat and hoarding his precarious cache of food and alcohol, while he tries to obliterate consciousness and avoid contact with a peculiar race of beings, the Crakers. Through a series of reminiscences as he makes his way back to where he once worked, Snowman's past slowly advances to meet his future.

The world heated up to be uninhabitable desert and genetic engineering created more problems (and species! [pigoons, rakunks, wolvogs]) than solutions. People became increasingly reliant on artificial environments--both internal and external--while their purveyors--drug and technology firms--held ever greater but unthinking power. The world was divided into two: the rich, safe controlled spaces and the dangerous chaotic realm of the poor. Then an epidemic wiped out most of the human race.

Two friends are central to the story: brilliant but inscrutable Crake whose nerdy gift for science had a role in engineering the 'pure' Crakers and the horrifying world that they occupy; and beautiful, seductive Oryx whose regard of knowing innocence heaps scorn upon messy human desire and emotion. They are the Yin and Yang of the "constructed" world. Only at the end, the reader learns that Oryx was murdered by Crake, who was slain by Snowman. It seems that his arduous journey was simply to destroy the history of the events that he had written and left behind.

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Summary:

A saxophone-playing, divorced psychiatrist, Dr. Denis, is baffled by the unexplained arrival of a new patient in his mental hospital. The highly intelligent newcomer, called Rantes, has extraordinary gifts and spends long hours in the yard facing southeast, where he claims to receive communications from his home planet. He is visited by the saintly Beatriz, who works in a church, and Denis asks her questions about Rantes.

The bond between the three people begins to transgress the ordinary boundaries between doctor and patient, and culminates in an excursion to a concert in the park. Charmed by Beethoven's "Song of Joy," Rantes instigates generalized waltzing and takes over from an inexplicably obliging conductor. Back in the asylum, the other patients feel the vibrations emanating from Rantes' concert and engage in a good-humored romp. The doctor is reprimanded for the embarrassing situation, and begins to doubt the integrity of the psychiatric enterprise. A weakened Rantes dies after electroshock therapy and the film ends in ambiguity.

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The Giver

Lowry, Lois

Last Updated: Dec-14-2006
Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel for Young Adults

Summary:

Set in a future in which communities are entirely regulated, all life patterns ordered for maximum security, uniformity, painless existence, and pleasant, if uneventful family life, this novel unfolds the story of Jonas, a promising boy who, with all his age peers, will receive his adult assignment from the elders on the yearly day of advancement celebrated for all children going through carefully calibrated developmental stages. Jonas's assignment, however, sets him apart from his peers, and ultimately from the whole community.

He is selected as the next Receiver of Memories, a post that allows him access to knowledge of the past carefully guarded from all but one Receiver in each generation. His lot will be to bear the pain of bearing, not only in his mind and imagination, but in his body, feelings and sensations suppressed in others by lifelong administration of biochemical regulators.

Besides the old Receiver of Memories, whom Jonas calls The Giver, he becomes the only one able to see colors, feel pain, desire, loss, hunger, and to remember a world in which people felt something deeper than superficial stirrings. Among other things, he discovers what it is to feel love. Horrified at the blankness in which his people live, he chooses, with the Giver's blessing, and at great risk, to escape the community, and thus to release into it the memories he will not keep to himself.

Rescuing a child destined for "release" for nonstandard development, Jonas embarks on a journey that leads him to a faraway place where the old life survives, leaving behind him a community that will emerge from their anaesthetized condition into the costly terms on which the gifts of ecstasy, joy, awareness, grief, and pain give life its value.

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Annotated by:
Woodcock, John

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Set in a future when genetic engineering allows many couples to arrange for perfected babies, Gattaca tells the story of one imperfect man's successful fight against the odds. Born "naturally" with several serious imperfections, Vincent (Ethan Hawke) nevertheless grows up dreaming only of being an astronaut. As a member of the genetic underclass, he is able to work only as a custodian at Gattaca, the future version of NASA.

Vincent's frustration drives him to engage a sort of identity broker who arranges for him to appear to change his physical identity with Jerome (Jude Law), a member of the elite who has been paralyzed in an accident. Through this complex deception Vincent finally succeeds in being selected as an astronaut for an upcoming mission to a moon of Saturn. A large part of this future thriller consists of Vincent's heroic attempts to continue to pass as Jerome through a series of genetic checks.

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Imago

Butler, Octavia

Last Updated: Nov-30-2006

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Imago is set in the future, after a nuclear war has decimated most of the earth. A foreign species, the Oankali, has made Earth a colony. The Oankali are male and female but also have a third sex, the Ooloi. Ooloi are necessary to Oankali reproduction; they lie between partners, gather and recombine genetic material, and inseminate the female to produce offspring. The main Ooloi organ, the yashi, contains genetic information about every living thing. Ooloi can cure anything with a single touch. Also, of course, an evil Ooloi could start diseases no one has ever seen before.

The Ooloi and Oankali breed with earthlings who are willing and cure them of the tumors, infertility and other effects of the war. Unwilling humans are also repaired and sent to a colony on Mars where they can live autonomously. The Oankali have little hope for these humans, as their biological aggression will eventually cause another war. The Oankali do learn one thing from the humans, cancer. While for humans the fast reproduction of cells is a dreaded disease, the Ooloi control it and use it to recreate lost limbs and repair other damage.

Imago focuses on one particular Ooloi, Judahs. He is an anomaly because he has human parents. Judahs searches for human mates, finally finding two rebels. This pair tell him of a hidden community of humans unknown to the invaders. This area too becomes a colony, but with a more human aspect.

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Never Let Me Go

Ishiguro, Kazuo

Last Updated: Oct-06-2006
Annotated by:
Henderson, Schuyler

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

It was valuable to me that the friend who recommended this book also suggested that I avoid any hint of its content (including the Library of Congress's classifications on the title page), advice I would pass on to anybody scanning this before reading the novel.  Set in England, in the 1990s, this is the story of Kathy H.  She is currently a carer, providing support for donors at various stages in the donation process, before eventually becoming a donor herself.  As she travels across England to the different sites where her donors are recuperating, she thinks back to her schooldays and her friends, Ruth and Tommy.

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Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand

McIntyre, Vonda

Last Updated: Sep-05-2006
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novelette

Summary:

Although the setting is startlingly different, and the care provided is through highly unorthodox means, the healer in this science fiction story experiences in remarkably similar ways the everyday wear and tear of modern medical practice. Snake, a young female itinerant healer, has been asked to save the life of a young boy. Her attempts to do so, and her interactions with the boy, his family and community, and the tools of her trade (the snakes-mist, sand and grass) are detailed in the story. "Professional development" issues that this strong and complex character has to deal with include truth-telling, interfering and ignorant family members, self-sacrifice, and possible reprobation by her peers and teachers.

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Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Most of the film takes place inside the body of a slob, a widower named Frank (Bill Murray). The live-action sequences trace Frank’s illness: because of his unhealthy habits, he contracts a virus, develops an extremely high fever, and almost dies. After a miraculous recovery, he decides to follow the advice of his sensible daughter, Shane, and get more exercise, eat healthy food, and so on.

The rest of the film is animated, and tells the story of the illness from inside Frank’s body, a city with its own police force (the immune system, its precincts in the lymph nodes), organized crime (microbes who have a steambath in Frank’s armpit), the media (NNN, the Nerve Network News). The town is run from Cerebellum Hall by the corrupt Mayor Phlegmming, who discourages healthy eating habits because the huge number of fat cells vote for him. Chaos threatens with the arrival of Thrax (the voice of Laurence Fishburne), a virus who, as he puts it himself, "makes ebola look like dandruff."

The heroes are Osmosis Jones, a white blood cell (who is literally blue, and voiced by the black comedian Chris Rock), and Drix, a cold capsule (voice of David Hyde Pierce). Jones has been suspended for using "unnecessary force," by making Frank throw up in public (and in fact saving his life by expelling a toxic oyster), and Drix develops an inferiority complex when he realizes that he does not cure disease, but is only "for the temporary relief of symptoms." The two team up as vigilantes and, along with the attractive Leah, another immune cell who works as the Mayor’s Aid, they defeat Thrax and save the city.

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Annotated by:
Belling, Catherine

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is an airforce pilot. His girlfriend, Lydia (Meg Ryan), leaves him because of his drinking problem. Tuck becomes involved in a top-secret project to miniaturize humans and inject them into the human body. Tuck is the first experimental subject; he is to travel, in a tiny pod, inside the body of a lab rabbit.

This is complicated when, once Tuck and his pod have been shrunk and placed in a syringe ready for injection, the film’s villains, led by the sinister Victor Scrimshaw, break into the laboratory and steal the microchip needed to restore Tuck to his normal size. A scientist escapes with the syringe containing Tuck. Iago, Scrimshaw’s henchman, chases him and, to keep the technology out of their hands, the scientist injects Tuck into Jack Tupper (Martin Short), who just happens to be nearby.

Jack is a hypochondriac who works at a supermarket checkout. When Tuck creates a computer link-up to Jack’s vision and hearing, and speaks to him, Jack believes he has been possessed; his physician suspects a psychiatric disorder. After much anxiety, Tuck explains things, enlisting Jack to track down the villains and get the stolen microchip from them. With Lydia’s help, they thwart the villains (and reduce them to half their normal size).

After journeying inside both Jack and Lydia’s bodies (he moves from one to the other when Jack kisses Lydia), Tuck is rescued and restored to his normal size. Tuck and Lydia reconcile and marry, and Jack, given new confidence by having Tuck within him (like a macho kind of internal inspirational tape), is cured of his hypochondria and anxiety and finds a new life for himself.

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