This story was pretty messed up if you think about it, but I found it fascinating. In the typical sci-fi way we're getting thrown into a whole new world and get lost towards the beginning. We have to sort of pick up all of the clues and decipher them. Although, in this case, there really isn't all that much being explained, most of it is left to the imagination. I like that, it leaves the reader free to fill in their own gaps and picture what the Tilc look like for example, I personally keep picturing Waternoose from Pixar's Monster's Inc.

Pregnancy has always been something that scares me, not just because of the thought of creating another life and having to take care of it, but also because of all the complications that can go wrong and the pain that's involved during labor. I don't take medication unless I'm absolutely forced to, and so I know that if I ever do decide to have children that I would do it drug-free, which will make it even more painful. Childbearing is something unique for women that men will never, as far as we know, experience. The story plays on the concept of male pregnancy where it's typically the males that are the hosts for the Tilc eggs until it's time for their "labor" of sorts. Since men don't have the necessary equiptment to deliver anything, the men are ripped open c-section style.

The story itself is also a coming-of-age tale about the main character Gan. The story begins even on his "last night of childhood," because the events that follow act as a sort of rite of passage. He was brought up and destined to bear the young of T'Gatoi, but it's obvious that he has a choice in the matter since his sister is more than willing to do it in his place. I think that, in a way, the decision he makes in the end is because he's jealous at the thought of his sister being intimate with T'Gatoi. I found it interesting how in class we started talking abut their relationship in term of teenagers being dramatic, and it is exploitative in a way.

A large question that I had was whether or not the relationship between Gan and T'Gatoi can be considered incestuous since they're considered half-siblings; T'Gaoi was "taken from [Gan's] father's flesh when he was [Gan's] age." They are difference species, and Gan will be more of host much like a virus, so it may not be in physical terms. But incest is more of a cultural thing.

I would also like to hear more from men and what they think of the story. I think it'd be more impactful on them than us women in a sense, in part because we already know that if we want children what we're in for.


I decided to read the new novel by Katie MacAlister called Steamed: A Steampunk Romance. I was walking in Barnes and Noble and saw it on one of the tables and thought it might be interesting. I don't normally read romance novels, but I read a review later that said that it's a bit of an introductory into Steampunk because it's not as hardcore, dark, or gritty as some of the conventional Steampunk novels. I figured if I like the action and the story then I might want to read more into Steampunk fiction.

I like the title, it's a bit catchy. Anyway, the story revolves around Dr. Jack Fletcher, who's a nanoelectrical systems engineer and Steampunk fan. His sister Hallie is eventually spirited away to a parallel universe in a lab accident and they end up on an airship called Tesla, which is run by Captain Octavia Pye. The year is still 2010, but it's a different world than they (and we) know. Of course the romance is around Jack and Octavia, which is the central focus of the story and right behind that is the action and all of the steampunkery.

I pretty much enjoyed the novel, although I'm not much of a romance-reader. Just not one of those girls I guess. But it was a good way to dip my toes into the Steampunk pool I guess, and there were a few places in the book that I found pretty funny. I think I'd like to read one of the conventional Steampunk novels after reading Steamed. I may need to have my own Steampunkapalooza! I looked up some of the common themes in this sub-genre of Sci-Fi, and found that hot air balloons and zeppelins are often used, along with such things as body art, chemistry, flying or things in the sky, space, robots, battle, and the setting is usually in an alternate or parallel universe.


Last night I decided to start reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and so far I'm really enjoying it. I didn't get a chance to finish reading Snow Crash this week, but I may end up finishing the book for next class. I've come to realize that cyberpunk is a little bit more of my cup of tea, mostly because I'm such a technology-obsessed person. I love the idea of artificial intelligence, hackers, virtual reality, and distopian worlds. When reading the novel, I kept thinking of all the similarities between it and films like Blade Runner and the Matrix, which I can tell have a cyberpunk style to them.

I did a little research on cyberpunk and found that the protagonists are often computer hackers with a sort of Robin Hood syndrome. The main character in Stephenson's book is the same; Hiro is a hacker who was one of the original developers of the "Metaverse." It's the virtual world where everyone has their own avatar in the Metaverse that they control, which is kinda similar to Half-Life? (I think that's what it's called). Or similar to like the movie Gamer only it's not real people.

Okay, I seriously thought that the dentata, the anti-rape device that Y.T. wears, is pretty funny. The whole idea of it made me think of the movie Teeth where the girl has teeth in her vagina. I think it's actually called vagina dentata. I'm sort of glad that the author didn't go into details about how it works, or at least I haven't gotten to that part yet if he does.

I feel like there's a deep philosophical meaning behind why this genre is so popular, and I think it says a lot about our culture. A deep theme in the book seems to be "language as codes." Yes, we are technology-crazed people now with new, better devices being made each year and the internet always expanding. The book was written in 1992, which was around the time that the World Wide Web became open to the public. The Central Intelligence Corporation (CIC) in Snow Crash ends up developing a software called "Earth," which I think is very similar to Google Earth today. I'm wondering if it was somehow the inspiration for Google Earth.

Encyclopedia of the Galaxy, A Misadventure

In my Captivity Narratives class we're now reading a book on the Holocaust and the Nazi concentration camps, which gets extremely depressing, so I REALLY needed to read a book to lift my spirits. Douglas Adams definitely fits in that category :)  I love British humor, I don't know why, but it just pokes my funny bone and I find it hysterical. I decided to re-read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, which gave me an excuse to finally buy the fancy "Penultimate Hitchhiker's Guide" from Barnes and Noble.

Anyway, I haven't read Adams in a few years now and I still love him. It's so absurd that it just makes you laugh out loud while reading; things like how the Hitchhiker's Guide recommends such things as "a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." I love Marvin the depressed robot, and when I eventually watched the movie they made I thought that Alan Rickman was perfect for the role. Now that's the voice in my head when I read the "trilogy."

The parallels between Adams' world and our world's absurdity is brilliant, I mean, the earth gets blown up for make way for a hyperspace express route.

There are so many wonderful quotes! The language itself is intriguing for me because it's so unique.

- "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't"
- "Curiously enough, the only thing that went through the mind of the bowl of petunias as it fell was Oh no, not again. Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now"
- "Life," said Marvin dolefully, "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it."

If you don't like the series, then you may be the reason why human beings are just the third most intelligent species on earth behind mice and dolphins. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

The 13th Floor

So it took a little bit of searching but I was finally able to find, and read, "The Tenants" by William Tenn. It's been extremely busy with all of my classes right now, not to mention that I'm overloading this semester, so I've been too swamped to find the time to read a whole novel for this class.

The story, in a nut shell, is about hiring in an urban office space by otherworldly being, which seems simple enough. The main character is Sydney Blake, an employee at the real estate firm Wellington Jimm & Sons. After just a short time the story goes completely strange as two prospective tenants for the building are introduced. Tohu and Bohu are a bit odd and want to rent the 13th floor of the building, but that floor doesn't exist. They end up renting it anyway, and then the story takes yet another turn onto bizarro street; all of the movers and such don't find it odd whatsoever that "only those that have any business on the 13th floor" can even reach the office there. This is when Blake constantly attempts to reach the 13th floor, but keeps failing. I think in a way, not being able to reach the 13th floor is just driving Sydney Blake insane, which is in complete contrast to the other people who have already accepted the unusual. Curiosity killed the cat.

I really liked reading this short story, partly because it's such a simple tale that comes across so clear and interesting. Its been quite refreshing to be honest. It was also like a very subdued horror story in a way, with a little satire thrown in the mix.


I used to watch the movie The Witches of Eastwick a lot when I was little, along with other movies with witches like the infamous Hocus Pocus, or The Witches. I think that of those three films in particular, I liked The Witches the most.

I always found it odd that witches are often portrayed as being evil, and more importantly, evil women. There are two types of witchcraft, benevolent (white magic) and malevolent (black magic). The "white" witches that are often seen as good, often working against the evil witch. Some examples in films are Glenda from The Wizard of Oz, and even the queens from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland that came out in theaters over break. The oddball is then the character of Jadis, the "White Witch," from C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia who is the villain.

Witchcraft usually involves practices that influence a person's mind, body, or materials against their will. Often you can see witches in a coven that consists of three women; sometimes sisters but usually related to one another in some way. There have been many American TV shows involving witches that have become popular like Bewitched, Tabitha, Free Spirit, Angelique, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Charmed. The most popular witches, obviously being Samantha from Bewitched and Sabrina from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The character of Samantha is portrayed as the good witch who is a caring wife who has to keep her identity a secret from her husband Darrin. On the other hand, there's Sabrina who is a teen that needs to cope with her new witch powers and how to deal with all of the problems that being a teenager ensues.

"Delicious Mix of Murder, Fantasy, Humor and Human Longing"

I just need to say real quick that I've actually met Neil Gaiman at a book signing in St. Paul, Minnesota where my dad brought me along, although at the time I didn't really know who he was. I live less than an hour from his house where he's a bee-keeper. My uncle Bob is also a bee-keeper and has apparently spoke with Gaiman about the harvest season one time. Thought that was pretty nifty.

Anyway, I ended up reading The Graveyard Book instead of Anansi Boys because the story just intrigued me; the idea of an orphan being brought up by the dead just seems very clever and mysterious. I found it interesting then when we watched the DVD in class and he spoke about how he got the idea for the book by watching his little boy pedal his tricycle around the graveyard they lived by. When he then related his work as re-vamping (no pun intended) The Jungle Book, it just clicked after reading the book.

I thought I would just make some comparisons then between The Graveyard Book and The Jungle Book, besides the closeness of their titles. Instead of having wolves, monkeys, and tigers, Gaiman uses vampires, ghosts, and ghouls. Like in The Jungle Book, every chapter within the book is almost a story within itself; in this case Nobody is about two years older in each chapter. The think the idea is brilliant since children nowadays aren't scared of animals, and usually empathize with them. I didn't have very high expectations while reading this because it IS written to be intended for children, but I actually loved it. The only drawback I had was that since this is the case, the book is fairly clean and doesn't go too deep, which I think could be elaborated for an adult version. I would love it if he were expand on this book for adults.

On a side note, Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire, The Brave One, The Crying Game) was hired to write and direct the film adaption of Gaiman's children novel. The UK studio that did the visual effects for The Dark Knight will handle the visuals, and the cast will probably consist of well-known British actors, like for the Harry Potter franchise, and the lead character of Nobody Owens will be played by several unknown actors being him at different ages. I guess that's having some difficulty now thought since Miramax was going to produce it, but Miramax basically disappeared last fall. So there's still a chance it could happen if they can get financing.

Although, while reading the book, I could definitely see this done as an animated film, especially using stop-motion techniques like Gaiman's film-adaption of Coraline.

"We are all going to die. Might as well dance. Or better yet, read a book."
OR even better yet, read The Graveyard Book.

Pit Dragons

I decided to read the first book of the Pit Dragon Trilogy by Jane Yolen instead of The Golden Compass. I simply don't have any desire to read that book, not because of it's so-called "anti-spiritual" tendencies, I'm actually an atheist myself, but simply because it's not something I'm interested in.

I actually remember reading these books once when I was in elementary school, I liked them because they had dragons in them (I still do....) So just a little background information because not everyone has read them, the books take place on a desert planet called Austar IV. There's a caste system on the planet made up of "bonders" who are servents/slaves, and the "owners." Humans have tamed dragons on this planet and train them to fight in "The Pit." I found it a bit odd, but there are a lot of human characters' name has a double "k" in it, for example, the main character's name is Jakkin. I believe that is because anyone who is a slave, or was one, has it. Anyway, he ends up stealing an egg from the hatchery and raises the his dragon on his own so that he can have her battle in the Pits so he can gain his freedom.

I'm not entirely sure how to fit this novel into a spiritual context, other than Jakkin "finds" himself during the course of the story. He is a strong character to begin with and ends up learning how pride is different than determination, which is a mistake that almost makes him lose his dragon, Heart's Blood.

I still like the book after all these years, although it is a bit of a lower-level read for me now. There are a couple parts of the book that I never really picked up on when I was little; for example, there are whore houses. There's a line in the book where Yolen describes how the men go there to "fill the women like bags." Of course, when I was reading it at 10-years-old I never got the reference and didn't think much of it. I read some reviews on the series and realized these books have been banned in some places because of this, and I think that's kind of ridiculous. I think some people are WAY too picky about monitoring what their children are reading.

Speaking of that, I had quite an experience with the Harry Potter novels and my crazy religious ex-aunt (yes she's an "ex" now since my uncle divorced her, thank god...) Well, I've always been a bit of a Harry Potter fanatic since my dad brought home the first book for me when I was little, which was the English edition called the "Philosopher's Stone" instead of the Sorcerer's Stone. My dad, for as long as I can remember, has always been bringing home books for me to read. I stood in line at Barnes & Noble for over three hours during every book release, whittled my own magic wands out of tree branches, and constantly make HP references. My girlfriends are also pretty much obsessed, and we would all get the books and then get together and quiz each other based on how far we were.

When the third book came out, which is still my favorite book AND movie of the series, my dad bought me a signed copy by J.K. Rowling. After I got it we went up to our cabin to spend the weekend with family. My crazy aunt Billy was there and saw me reading it when my parents were out and THREW THE BOOK IN THE FIREPLACE! To this day I can't even think about it without getting upset. She said I "shouldn't read that trash," and then she handed me her freaking Bible. My parents never forced religion on me and always gave me a choice to whether or not I wanted to attend church, even when I was just six-years-old. That weekend she also wouldn't let me watch The Road to El Dorado because the people in the movie believed in another God.

Middle Earth

Elements of Fantasy
- Alternate world
- Other-worldly beings
- "End of the World" situation
- Quest/Adventure, or "hero journey"
- Magical realism
- Comedy relief character, or sidekick
- Death
- Continuation of folklore

When I first read The Hobbit I was in elementary school, the fifth grade to be exact. My dad has always been one of those obsessive Middle Earth fans, and he told me when I was older that he had to "start me out young." Haha, well he succeeded, because I've been basically in love ever since. I read The Hobbit a couple of times and then ended up focusing more on The Lord of the Rings trilogy after that, especially since about a year or two later the first movie by Peter Jackson came out. I don't remember reading The Hobbit at least since middle school, so I thought I'd read it again and see if it seems any different now from what I remember.

I can definitely say, after reading it yet again, that it is much more enjoyable as an adult. I feel like I took more out of the novel than I did when I was little. The book begins very much like you would a tale for children, but there is a turning point in the story where the story begins to get more grim. The same things actually happens in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien eventually begins to raise moral questions in the book that aren't something a child is really prepared to contemplate, and so it makes more of an adult read. Such questions as who has the right to Smaug's treasure? Is Bilbo entitled to take the Arkenstone? Is there a difference between behaving properly and acting according to one's claim?

I know I wasn't prepared for those types of questions when I read it when I was 10 or 11 years old. Back then I was just immersed in this fantasy world that was so different of the "mundane" one I lived in. I've also been obsessed with dragons for as long as I can remember, and Smaug truly IS the magnificent. He is one of my favorite character I have ever encountered in a novel, and I've read a lot of novels in my life.

I also feel like the book needs to be read aloud in order to give it the justice it deserves, almost like one of those old epic poems such as Beowulf or Homer's The Iliad and The Odyssey. My favorite lines from The Hobbit are during the death of Smaug:

The great bow twanged. The black arrow sped straight from the string, straight for the hollow by the left breast where the foreleg was flung wide. In it smote and vanished, barb, shaft and feather, so fierce was its flight. With a shriek that deafened men, felled trees and split stone, Smaug shot spouting into the air, turned over and crashed down from on high in ruin. Full on the town he fell. His last throes splintered it to sparks and gledes. The lake roared in. A vast steam leapt up, white in the sudden dark under the moon. There was a hiss, a gushing whirl, and then silence.

Gets me every time. The writing is absolutely beautiful.

Namelessness as Hopelessness

A Wild Sheep Chase was such a different read from what I'm using to reading in the horror genre. In the novel, I had a hard time being able to relate with some of the characters because it seemed as if something was missing. There's this feeling of detachment and disconnectedness throughout the novel, and I believe the namelessness greatly contributes to it. Names are so important in how to judge a person and determine their personality and how to describe them. To sum it up, names equal emotional attachment. Since the story is all written in the first person, I felt like I was living in his world. It was pretty miserable. The entire time the main character seemed to wonder if there was more to life. J-Horror is an expression of hopelessness.

I really liked the section of the book where there's a conversation about "mass production." The main character talks about our society today, its development, and how we name everything. He thinks it's a waste of time to give things names, if everything is mass produced, what makes anything special enough to have a name then? There's also this idea expressed on how communication between individuals is waning, which is a common theme in many stories and films around the world.

I liked the humorous writing style, or at least it was humorous to me at times. I think it was done on purpose. A Wild Sheep Chase is almost a detective/mystery novel, and the author Murakami is kind of making fun of the stereotypical "cool guy, macho detective." The book is basically a mystery without any solution. Life simply continues to go on.

I Vanna Suck Your..... Blood?

Undying Popularity Through Sex and Death

I'm pretty sure that vampires are probably the most popular genre, with zombies coming a close second.

I've read Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles quite a few times already, along with quite a few of the novels on the alternate reading list. I'm sad to say that I have read all of the Twilight books... and am very ashamed of it. So I decided to read The Hunger by Whitley Strieber because my vampire-obsessed friend recommended it. I found it an interesting read compared to some of the other vampire novels that I've read where the vampire is either a mindless killing machine or an awkward 17-year-old boy (puke).

The story centers around a vampire called Miriam Blaylock, who is constantly craving humany companionship. The difference in this book, as compared to some others, is that she often refers to humans as "pets" instead of idk... being livestock? They aren't just beings to feed from and kill. She of course has some of the classic "powers" associated with vampires, like the ability to manipulate the mind. I found this book has a similar premise with Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice; Louis and Miriam are both lonely (vampire-as-alien theme), which the reader tends to sympathize for.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of vampires (like I've said werewolves float my boat). The vampire novels that I enjoy more are often the ones where the vampires are not ravenous demons without a personality because then I never get that deep gothic, struggling, sympathetic, compelling connection. That may be because I'm a girl, we tend to like that. With films on the other hand, I really do like the violent monsters on a murder rampage.

Monsters are manifestations of our fears, the most prevalent being death. So why are vampires so popular? I believe the most obvious is humankind's love of immortality, the ability to live on forever free from illness and disease. There still is no cure for all of the cancers there are today, and vampirism is a solution since once you become a vampire you're instantly cured. Of course, vampires are always described as being gorgeous figures, especially in America when we idolize beauty. Through history the vampires being written about are slowly being domesticated; the most recent development being that vampires don't drink from humans anymore, they either drink from animals or use a blood bank. Anne Rice's novel really started a chance in vampire literature, turning the vampire from horror to hero. In the 1970s you can also see the appearance of the Count on Seasame Street and Count Chocula the cereal.

Oh! Before I forget, you MUST see the movie Let the Right One In, it's a Swedish vampire film that I think is fantastic.

Love Between Zombie Killers

I am proud to say that I have always been a fan of zombies, not just in the last decade while these gruesome cannibals have become popularized. I remember being home sick from school in 5th grade and my dad would get me pop, soup, and a wide collection of horror VHS tapes (mostly zombie classics like Dawn of the Dead, 1978). Of course my mom never approved, but my dad would get them anyways. George A. Romero is the genius that turned zombies into flesh-eating ghouls.

I've become a huge fan of books by Max Brooks. Here is his website. He has written The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z (which I believe is being written for film now), and The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks. His books don't just deal with how to kill a zombie in a certain situation or "The Oral History of the Zombie War," but also help to explain why zombies are so popular during this time. One of the topics he brings up is how zombies are a manifestation of mankind's desire for immortality gone horribly awry.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a hilarious read, probably because it's such an odd pairing of zombies and Jane Austin. Buy hey, it works! It's a love story between two zombie killers :D Since I’ve already read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, I finally got a chance to finish reading World War Z. I absolutely love the story, and to top it off, it’s well written. I cannot even imagine all the research Max Brooks did in order to write the novel because I believe it’s almost all based in reality. It’s the world we live in right now, just… with a few million slow-moving, flesh-eating zombies thrown into the mix. I believe one of the major themes in the novel is the ability to survive (which is probably a given since his first book was the Zombie Survival Guide). The main characters need to learn what it takes to survive a disaster, and in this case it’s a zombie outbreak. This appeals to Americans because we believe that we can survive anything.

So… Just what is the metaphor being presented by the figure of the zombie in this novel P&P&Z? The simple answer is that, well, they’re us. Zombies are representational of us at our worst. I personally LOVE the scene in Shaun of the Dead when Shaun is walking down the block to get some ice cream, and is completely oblivious to the fact that zombies have appeared in Great Britain. It was kind of a wake up call about how so many people just go through their everyday lives blindly, just going by routine and not really experiencing life.

On a side note Steve Hockensmith writing a prequel to P&P&Z, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which I believe is supposed to come out this March. There's also going to be a P&P&Z graphic novel sometime this year.

Here is a list of must-see zombie flicks:

Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Dawn of the Dead (2004, remake)
Black Sheep - total spoof about zombie sheep, hilarious and stupid :)
28 Days Later
28 Weeks Later
Evil Dead Trilogy
Shaun of the Dead

Artwork by Rachel Geiger


The first time that I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was during my senior year of high school as part of the AP English course. Before that I only knew the Hollywood story of Frankenstein that James Whale popularized in the 1930s. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read it and found out it was hardly like the film at all. I definitely enjoy the novel more, although the Frankenstein movie with Robert De Niro as the monster is a good one that follows along with the novel pretty well.

So it's been a few years since I've read it, so I re-read it for class. When I finished, all I could think was, "Man, that's just as messed up as I remember." There are many morbid twists in the plot of the story, and I'm constantly feeling sorry for the monster, especially during those chapters that are entirely narrated by the monster when he's on his own. I always get irritated when people incorrectly call the monster “Frankenstein,” since the real monster of the novel is Frankenstein, Victor to be exact, not his creation. Victor is the father figure in the book, and the creature more of a newborn child. When the monster approaches Victor in the book, which is much like the first steps of a child to its parent, he flees the apartment, completely abandoning the creature. I felt this was very irresponsible of him, and portrayed his selfish character. What I don’t understand is how what he has done just suddenly dawns on him. He called the creature ugly, yet what did he expect when he used pieces of different corpses to assemble him?

Well, although I enjoy the novel more than the film, I’ve never been much of a Frankenstein fan. The Wolfman is more of what floats my boat, personally :)

Artwork by PReilly