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RE: [SciFiNoir Lit] Re: The Xenogenisis Trilogy--A Biologist's response

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  • Nora
    ... I think it was explicit in some places. Not just in the religious sense, although I do recall some of the human characters calling the Oankali devils
    Message 1 of 12 , May 8, 2006
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      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
      > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Nora <njem@...> wrote:
      > > I agree with the idea that her work is an analysis of humanity.
      > But the
      > > Xenogenesis books examine humanity through *many* lenses --
      > genetic,
      > > sociological, cultural, sexual, spiritual, you name it.
      > <<I can see the sociology, culture and sexual, but I didn't so much
      > catch sprirituality in any of the books, though maybe it was implied?
      > >>

      I think it was explicit in some places. Not just in the religious sense,
      although I do recall some of the human characters calling the Oankali
      "devils" and discussing topics like the afterlife (there was one
      conversation in which a human was asking an Oankali whether they believed in
      life after death. The Oankali said something like, "When I die, my cells
      will disippate and join with other life forms and create new life", which I
      don't think was what the human had in mind.) But I think it was also part
      of the debate on whether the humans should have their own planet or not.
      The Oankali believed purely in genetic predestination; they saw humankind as
      doomed. The humans, and their part-human children, believed in
      hope/chance/God, and the slim chance that they might somehow overcome their
      genetic fate. I saw that as a question of genes vs. free will, which seems
      like a spiritual question to me.

      > > What exactly do you find sketchy about the biology in
      > Xenogenesis?
      > I'm no
      > > biologist, granted, but I didn't notice any flaws in her science.
      > <<There was very little science. What were the Oankali (sp)?
      > Mammals? Insects? Plants?

      They're aliens, from a completely different ecological structure; our phyla
      can't possibly apply to them. But from the descriptions in the book, they
      share more qualities with plants than anything else.

      > How could they vocalize and eat?

      That was described in some detail when one of the characters went into
      metamorphosis and developed that weird breathing thing in the throat. Book
      2, I think. As for eating, that got described pretty frequently too, even
      to the point of making them seem a bit predatory on humans (consuming their
      dead cells, etc.).

      Did
      > they have organs like earth creatures--hearts lungs, etc? What were
      > their "tentacles"? How could they move? What was the musculature--
      > What kinds of brains did they have? How big? What centers of the
      > brain gave them their special powers, or any--What kind of chemical
      > secretions triggered the onset of metamorphasis? From what organs--
      > blah blah blah.
      > She did not go into this and many other questions (the ship--what
      > kind of organism it was, etc) and from that I took it that wasn't
      > important or the point.

      Ohhh, I see what you mean. When you said "sketchy" I thought you meant that
      it was done wrong somehow. I agree that none of that was important to the
      plot. However, she *did* discuss almost all of the points that you asked
      about here. She didn't spend pages and pages on it -- she never spent pages
      on *anything* AFAICT -- but she did mention things like specialized organs
      and tissues, and metamorphic triggers, and which animals they borrowed the
      tentacles and other bits of their biology from, and so on.

      > <In almost every series humanity does itself in and is in the end
      > standing around half naked in the wilderness. They never rebuild
      > civilization--it is as though she does feel this is the pristine and
      > best end for us>>

      Eh?? In the Xenogenesis books, they started building a colony on Mars. In
      the Patternmaster books, they built a weird feudalish civilization, albeit
      one that seemed more primitive than society today. In the Earthseed books
      they built Earthseed communities all over the world, and eventually
      succeeded in reaching the stars. All of that sounds like rebuilding
      civilization to me.

      Butler doesn't *focus on* the civilization-builders, granted -- maybe
      because she finds their stories less interesting than those who have to
      survive the transition between the old society and the new. But that makes
      sense, given that she's described herself as a survivor; naturally the
      "survivor stories" would be more interesting to her than the stories of
      those who have it easy later on.

      Nora
    • Chris Hayden
      ... humanity. ... much ... implied? ... believed in ... my cells ... life , which I ...
      Message 2 of 12 , May 10, 2006
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        --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:
        >
        > > -----Original Message-----
        > > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
        > > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
        > > --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Nora <njem@> wrote:
        > > > I agree with the idea that her work is an analysis of
        humanity.
        > > But the
        > > > Xenogenesis books examine humanity through *many* lenses --
        > > genetic,
        > > > sociological, cultural, sexual, spiritual, you name it.
        > > <<I can see the sociology, culture and sexual, but I didn't so
        much
        > > catch sprirituality in any of the books, though maybe it was
        implied?
        > > >>
        >
        > (there was one
        > conversation in which a human was asking an Oankali whether they
        believed in
        > life after death. The Oankali said something like, "When I die,
        my cells
        > will disippate and join with other life forms and create new
        life", which I
        > don't think was what the human had in mind.)

        <<I don't think that corresponds to the afterlife contemplated by
        most of your major religions--at least the ones that do believe in
        one.

        But conversations like those do point toward the Parables books and
        that "Book of Martha" story where she starts wrestling with God and
        coming up with her own rational concept of God>>>


        But I think it was also part
        > of the debate on whether the humans should have their own planet
        or not.
        > The Oankali believed purely in genetic predestination; they saw
        humankind as
        > doomed. The humans, and their part-human children, believed in
        > hope/chance/God, and the slim chance that they might somehow
        overcome their
        > genetic fate. I saw that as a question of genes vs. free will,
        which seems
        > like a spiritual question to me.

        <<<But is this really a religious discussion as we know it? And
        beyond that does it bother you that the Oankali seemed to have the
        better of the debate--that is the humans have wiped themselves out
        and are at the mercy of the all powerful Oankali, who have conquered
        space and death itself/>>
        >>>

        She did not go into this and many other questions (the ship--what
        > > kind of organism it was, etc) and from that I took it that
        wasn't
        > > important or the point.
        >
        > Ohhh, I see what you mean. When you said "sketchy" I thought you
        meant that
        > it was done wrong somehow.

        <<Nope. Merely that she did not spend time discussing in detail the
        hard science that was making this possible--rather than see this as
        a failing--which that post I forwarded tried unsuccessfully to
        redress--I saw it as not the point of the story.

        The story is about relationships--questioning our concept of
        family. Our concept of kinship and heredity among other things>>
        > Eh?? In the Xenogenesis books, they started building a colony on
        Mars.

        <<We never see it. They talk about it. The story takes place on
        the ship and on earth--in all of which are rather lo tech (at least
        mechanically speaking) conditions>>

        In
        > the Patternmaster books, they built a weird feudalish
        civilization, albeit
        > one that seemed more primitive than society today.

        <<<These fantastic telepaths have to ride horses, have lost the use
        of technology and are constantly battling some half animal savages>>

        In the Earthseed books
        > they built Earthseed communities all over the world, and eventually
        > succeeded in reaching the stars. All of that sounds like
        rebuilding
        > civilization to me.

        <<Again we never see any of that>>
        >
        > Butler doesn't *focus on* the civilization-builders, granted --
        maybe
        > because she finds their stories less interesting than those who
        have to
        > survive the transition between the old society and the new. But
        that makes
        > sense, given that she's described herself as a survivor; naturally
        the
        > "survivor stories" would be more interesting to her than the
        stories of
        > those who have it easy later on.
        >
        > Nora

        <<Ahh, you have hit on it. thank you.

        This is why I always like to find out biographical details of the
        authors. Surviving seemed to be a trophe or theme of hers that she
        revisited over and over.

        We all do it. I like to explore Double Consciousness or Twoness.

        These dicussions have helped my conceptualization of spec fiction
        writers. From one time seeing them as geniuses to seeing them as
        half baked hacks I now see them as more like prophets--in the
        classcial sense.

        The classical prophet was an outsider a wild person, think John the
        Baptist or some of those from the Old Testament. They were
        illiterate and unlettered but had visions. They spoke in poems and
        riddles about these visions.

        It seems that even the worst Sci Fi or Spec Fiction contains an
        excting concept which is the important thing to be gleaned from it.

        Again with Xenogenesis--

        Butler takes on the Alien invasion trophe--they are not the mad
        martian maurauders of Wells, or even the ET of Spielberg but our
        saviors, family members, even lovers.

        One forgets how this was tabloid fare years ago--crazy (I was
        impregnated by space aliens) yet she is discussing calmly how this
        might only be so, but it might be our salvation.
        >
      • Nora
        ... You asked whether the books examined humanity through its spirituality, not religion. Spirituality and religion are not the same thing in my book.
        Message 3 of 12 , May 10, 2006
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          > -----Original Message-----
          > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
          > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
          > > > <<I can see the sociology, culture and sexual, but I didn't so
          > much
          > > > catch sprirituality in any of the books, though maybe it was
          > implied?
          > > (there was one
          > > conversation in which a human was asking an Oankali whether they
          > believed in
          > > life after death. The Oankali said something like, "When I die,
          > my cells
          > > will disippate and join with other life forms and create new
          > life", which I
          > > don't think was what the human had in mind.)
          > <<I don't think that corresponds to the afterlife contemplated by
          > most of your major religions--at least the ones that do believe in
          > one.

          You asked whether the books examined humanity through its spirituality, not
          religion. Spirituality and religion are not the same thing in my book.
          Besides, the Oankali concept could be seen as a form of reincarnation.

          > But I think it was also part
          > > of the debate on whether the humans should have their own planet
          > or not.
          > > The Oankali believed purely in genetic predestination; they saw
          > humankind as
          > > doomed. The humans, and their part-human children, believed in
          > > hope/chance/God, and the slim chance that they might somehow
          > overcome their
          > > genetic fate. I saw that as a question of genes vs. free will,
          > which seems
          > > like a spiritual question to me.
          > <<<But is this really a religious discussion as we know it? And
          > beyond that does it bother you that the Oankali seemed to have the
          > better of the debate--that is the humans have wiped themselves out
          > and are at the mercy of the all powerful Oankali, who have conquered
          > space and death itself/>>

          Again, you asked about spirituality, not religion. But even so, these are
          the same debates we see taking place in this country right now regarding
          genetic engineering. Remember the furor a few years ago when Dolly the
          sheep was cloned? Immediately there were calls for a ban on human cloning
          and genetic engineering, primarily coming from religious groups. As I
          recall, the Vatican got involved. There's an element of this in the
          evolution vs. creation debate; the creationists refuse to believe that we
          evolved from other living beings even though there's evidence of it in our
          very cells (leftover useless genes, the fact that we have mitochondria,
          etc.). I think the reason they resist evolution, and to a lesser degree all
          scientific knowledge regarding human biology, is because they fear being
          reduced to nothing more than an "ugly bag of mostly water", to rip ST:TNG --
          they fear that science will somehow negate the existence of the soul. And
          that in turn may somehow negate God. So any debate regarding genetics is
          automatically a spiritual debate, because it gets at the core issue of who
          and what we are. That's territory that historically has belonged to
          religion, until relatively lately.

          Look at the stem cell debate now, and how it's being interpreted by the
          religious right. It's not just about the abortion issue; it's also a
          question of whether tampering with DNA is, in its own way, playing God.
          Then there's the question of whether we *are* our genes. If a man gets
          himself genetically screened and discovers he's one of those
          multiple-Y-chromosome carriers, who disproportionately end up in prison for
          committing violent acts (or so I once read), does that mean he's inevitably
          destined to become a violent criminal? Or can awareness of his genetic
          predisposition keep him on the straight and narrow? Maybe he could undergo
          anger management therapy as a preventative. Maybe he could turn to Zen
          Buddhism to find inner peace, or martial arts so he can safely channel his
          violent impulses in an acceptable way. But then that's because I believe in
          free will, and the fact that we are not *just* what our genes make us.
          There's something more to humankind besides DNA blueprints and
          neurochemicals. I believe that "something more" is a soul, but you can call
          it whatever you want -- intelligence (as Butler phrased it),
          self-determination, willpower, whatever.

          Side-note: I finally got around to reading Nancy Kress' BEGGARS IN SPAIN,
          which did a great job of examining this issue in a different light. In her
          novel, set in the near future, it becomes fashionable for wealthy parents to
          genetically engineer children who don't need to sleep. These kids, because
          they're awake and functional a lot more than regular people, start achieving
          remarkable, near genius-level things. Immediately people start
          discriminating against them, trying to segregate them into "Sleepless"
          communities, passing laws to prevent the "genetically advantaged" from
          competing against regular folk, and so on.

          Back to Xenogenesis. I don't see that the Oankali got the better of the
          debate. The humans had choices at the micro level -- to bond with the
          Oankali or die separately/on their own terms. The *majority* of humans
          chose to die on their own, which I gather was a source of shame/confusion to
          the Oankali. Frankly, the Oankali were continually stymied by humans --
          they kept trying to judge humankind by its genes, and they kept being
          surprised when those humans did something which violated their expectations.
          They were even surprised by their own half-human children, who seemed to
          have inherited some of the freaky human tendency to defy DNA. The kid in
          the second book (can't remember his name) was supposed to grow up to be some
          kind of superfreak, wandering around and spreading his seed all over the
          place and never settling down. But he found the idea repugnant, and towards
          the end of the book it looked like he was going to settle down with this one
          ooloi he found. In the third book, the half-human ooloi kids basically
          discovered that they couldn't survive without love; they literally fell
          apart. Also, they ended up having to trust to chance/fate/divine providence
          to save themselves, rather than follow the path of logic advised by the
          Oankali -- basically they made the same choice that the humans did, to start
          over again on Mars rather than follow the safer route of interbreeding with
          the Oankali. This was why, IMO, Humans won in the end -- not by changing
          the Oankali's minds, but by changing the Oankali race (the hybrids) to
          become enough like themselves to understand.

          > She did not go into this and many other questions (the ship--what
          > > > kind of organism it was, etc) and from that I took it that
          > wasn't
          > > > important or the point.
          > > Ohhh, I see what you mean. When you said "sketchy" I thought you
          > meant that
          > > it was done wrong somehow.
          > <<Nope. Merely that she did not spend time discussing in detail the
          > hard science that was making this possible--rather than see this as
          > a failing--which that post I forwarded tried unsuccessfully to
          > redress--I saw it as not the point of the story.

          I didn't see the lack of focus on hard science as a failing, and I didn't
          see the biologist's article as a response to that. I think the article
          simply wanted to examine the biology that did exist in the book, not
          "correct for it" or anything like that.

          > The story is about relationships--questioning our concept of
          > family. Our concept of kinship and heredity among other things>>

          Yes, that's one aspect of the story. Not all, though.

          > > Eh?? In the Xenogenesis books, they started building a colony on
          > Mars.
          > <<We never see it. They talk about it. The story takes place on
          > the ship and on earth--in all of which are rather lo tech (at least
          > mechanically speaking) conditions>>

          What does it matter that we don't see it? Butler could've done like some
          authors and written a 10-volume series following the fates of humanity's
          descendants -- those who went with the Oankali and those who stayed on Mars.
          Doubtless if she had done this, she could've made a lot more money and
          become more famous than she is now. However, I think a series like that
          would've diluted the message of the trilogy. The power in the Xenogenesis
          books is that she captures humanity in its moment of crux; *this* is the
          time when all the most crucial decisions affecting the future of the species
          will be made. After the decisions are made, of course there are other
          stories to follow, but those are different stories. And personally, I'm
          nowhere near as interested in them.

          > In
          > > the Patternmaster books, they built a weird feudalish
          > civilization, albeit
          > > one that seemed more primitive than society today.
          > <<<These fantastic telepaths have to ride horses, have lost the use
          > of technology and are constantly battling some half animal savages>>

          You said it bothered you that civilization hadn't continued. This
          civilization clearly *has,* although it's gone through an apocalypse so
          naturally they're still rebuilding. Have you read CLAY'S ARK? It's one of
          the precursors to PATTERNMASTER, explaining how the disease caused the
          collapse of world civilization and allowed the Patternists to take control.
          The story starts even further back with MIND OF MY MIND and before that,
          WILD SEED. When you look at the whole series, you see that in some ways,
          the Patternists' civilization is a lot better than what they had before,
          when they were the downtrodden underclass of our current civilization.

          The core of all of Butler's books is change. Change isn't always for the
          better; that doesn't bother me because it's true. In Butler's books, very
          often the change *is* for the better, but it's not a utopia. Butler clearly
          doesn't believe in those. A real civilization always has winners and
          losers, pros and cons.

          > In the Earthseed books
          > > they built Earthseed communities all over the world, and eventually
          > > succeeded in reaching the stars. All of that sounds like
          > rebuilding
          > > civilization to me.
          > <<Again we never see any of that>>

          So the problem is that you don't want to read about the survivors, you want
          to read about their children.

          > These dicussions have helped my conceptualization of spec fiction
          > writers. From one time seeing them as geniuses to seeing them as
          > half baked hacks I now see them as more like prophets--in the
          > classcial sense.

          They're not prophets either, Chris. They're just people. They have the
          same baggage and hangups and limitations as anyone else. They're not
          channeling the future, or higher consciousness, or any of that shit. Some
          of them *are* hacks, and some are geniuses, but the majority are just
          regular folks who are a little better at spelling and grammar than the rest.


          > Again with Xenogenesis--
          > Butler takes on the Alien invasion trophe--they are not the mad
          > martian maurauders of Wells, or even the ET of Spielberg but our
          > saviors, family members, even lovers.
          > One forgets how this was tabloid fare years ago--crazy (I was
          > impregnated by space aliens) yet she is discussing calmly how this
          > might only be so, but it might be our salvation.

          Have you read "Bloodchild"?

          Nora
        • Chris Hayden
          ... The kid in ... ...
          Message 4 of 12 , May 11, 2006
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            --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:

            The kid in
            > the second book (can't remember his name)

            <<Akin>>

            > > >>
            >
            > What does it matter that we don't see it?

            <<It does not matter. That we don't see it means that it, and
            travelling to it and the method of propulsion of Chkahichdchk, the
            living ship, are not important--though I did wonder how living
            material could propel itself through space and how the living
            shuttles, giant pumpkins or something, could obtain escape velocity>>

            Butler could've done like some
            > authors and written a 10-volume series following the fates of
            humanity's
            > descendants -- those who went with the Oankali and those who
            stayed on Mars.
            > Doubtless if she had done this, she could've made a lot more money
            and
            > become more famous than she is now.

            <<I think by Imago she was out of gas on it. I think you are right
            but I think some writers--probably the better ones--have a problem
            with writing the same book 10 times. Some of them dig that do re mi,
            though>>


            > >
            > You said it bothered you that civilization hadn't continued. some
            ways,
            > the Patternists' civilization is a lot better than what they had
            before,
            > when they were the downtrodden underclass of our current
            civilization.

            <<But its bad for everybody else. Is this the message?>>
            >
            > The core of all of Butler's books is change.

            <<God is change>>


            >
            > So the problem is that you don't want to read about the survivors,
            you want
            > to read about their children.

            <<My reading of Xenogenisis is that Lilith, Akin, Jojahs everybody
            will live hundreds and hundreds of years. Had not this tendency to
            have everybody rooting around in the mud not asserted itself in
            almost all of her books, I wouldn't have noted it.

            When something keeps coming up (A Pattern mayhap) you wonder if it
            is not an accident, and why.>>
            >
            > > These dicussions have helped my conceptualization of spec
            fiction
            > > writers. From one time seeing them as geniuses to seeing them
            as
            > > half baked hacks I now see them as more like prophets--in the
            > > classcial sense.
            >
            > They're not prophets either, Chris.

            <<You need to get some grandeur in your vision>>


            They're just people. They have the
            > same baggage and hangups and limitations as anyone else.

            <<As do prophets. They gotta eat, pay the rent, avoid mobs of
            outraged heretic killers, etc.>>


            >
            > > Again with Xenogenesis--
            > > Butler takes on the Alien invasion trophe--they are not the mad
            > > martian maurauders of Wells, or even the ET of Spielberg but our
            > > saviors, family members, even lovers.
            > > One forgets how this was tabloid fare years ago--crazy (I was
            > > impregnated by space aliens) yet she is discussing calmly how
            this
            > > might only be so, but it might be our salvation.
            >
            > Have you read "Bloodchild"?
            >
            > Nora

            <<Isn't that the one where the alien is a snake or something and
            gets the humans pregnant? I will check. If it is I read it by
            chance when it first came out. I remember it caused a stir and I
            remember being disturbed and disgusted by the premise.

            I remember thinking only a woman would have written that story like
            that.

            What affect do you think her dyslexia had on her work? Did you know
            Delaney is a dyxlexic, too? Is this a qualification for winning the
            Nebula?

            Some of the passages in Lilliths brood reminded me of Delaney's
            autobiography.>>>
            >
          • Nora
            ... Ehhh... I don t define something s importance in a novel by how much time is spent explaining how it ticks. I don t know how horses go as fast as they do
            Message 5 of 12 , May 11, 2006
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              > <<It does not matter. That we don't see it means that it, and
              > travelling to it and the method of propulsion of Chkahichdchk, the
              > living ship, are not important--though I did wonder how living
              > material could propel itself through space and how the living
              > shuttles, giant pumpkins or something, could obtain escape velocity>>

              Ehhh... I don't define something's importance in a novel by how much time
              is spent explaining how it ticks. I don't know how horses go as fast as
              they do either, given how spindly their legs look, but I figure they're
              pretty important in novels like "Black Beauty".

              Granted, there are some SF fans out there who dismiss any SF that doesn't
              basically teach you how to build a [insert gadget]. But I suspect they're a
              minority, or we'd see a lot more technical manuals being sold alongside
              popular novel franchises.

              >> You said it bothered you that civilization hadn't continued. some
              > ways,
              >> the Patternists' civilization is a lot better than what they had
              > before,
              >> when they were the downtrodden underclass of our current
              > civilization.
              > <<But its bad for everybody else. Is this the message?>>

              All civilizations are bad for somebody.

              >> So the problem is that you don't want to read about the survivors,
              > you want
              >> to read about their children.
              > <<My reading of Xenogenisis is that Lilith, Akin, Jojahs everybody
              > will live hundreds and hundreds of years. Had not this tendency to
              > have everybody rooting around in the mud not asserted itself in
              > almost all of her books, I wouldn't have noted it.

              Lilith and her mates will not live to see the destruction of the earth. I
              don't remember where that was stated, but it was said pretty clearly at one
              point. The *next* generation might, if they find mates who are as young as
              they are; I got the impression the Earth wouldn't be destroyed until well
              after all the non-Oankali-linked humans had died (which would take a couple
              hundred years at least).

              As for rooting around in the mud -- that just strikes me as realistic. No
              civilization has ever fallen without a period of anarchy and simpler living
              becoming necessary. When you're writing over and over about the end of the
              Old World Order, that kind of requires writing about living rough,
              afterward. Personally I find this refreshing; too much of sci fi naively
              seems to assume that we'll all be living in shiny metal-walled, antiseptic
              futures with robots to wait on us hand and foot. I find dirty, clumsy
              futures in which people still have to work their asses off to be much more
              plausible.

              >>> These dicussions have helped my conceptualization of spec
              > fiction
              >>> writers. From one time seeing them as geniuses to seeing them
              > as
              >>> half baked hacks I now see them as more like prophets--in the
              >>> classcial sense.
              >> They're not prophets either, Chris.
              > <<You need to get some grandeur in your vision>>

              Thanks, but no thanks. Remember that I plan to be one of those people one
              day. I have no interest in anyone dubbing me a "prophet" and expecting me
              to predict the goddamned future. Good grief! Leave the prophecies to the
              religions; I just want to write.

              > They're just people. They have the
              >> same baggage and hangups and limitations as anyone else.
              > <<As do prophets. They gotta eat, pay the rent, avoid mobs of
              > outraged heretic killers, etc.>>

              Ascend bodily into heaven, promise to be reincarnated at XYZ shrine on the
              date of ABC, blah blah blah. Yeah. Regular folks. =)

              >>> Again with Xenogenesis--
              >>> Butler takes on the Alien invasion trophe--they are not the mad
              >>> martian maurauders of Wells, or even the ET of Spielberg but our
              >>> saviors, family members, even lovers.
              >>> One forgets how this was tabloid fare years ago--crazy (I was
              >>> impregnated by space aliens) yet she is discussing calmly how
              > this
              >>> might only be so, but it might be our salvation.
              >> Have you read "Bloodchild"?
              > <<Isn't that the one where the alien is a snake or something and
              > gets the humans pregnant?

              It always struck me as more like a big roly-poly/ticklebug (I don't know
              what they're really called, but when I was growing up that's what we called
              'em), or maybe a centipede.

              I will check. If it is I read it by
              > chance when it first came out. I remember it caused a stir and I
              > remember being disturbed and disgusted by the premise.

              ::surprised:: Why? It's no worse than what was in Xenogenesis. More
              bloody, maybe, but hey, birth is supposed to be bloody.

              > I remember thinking only a woman would have written that story like
              > that.

              ::snicker:: Okay, I'll give you that.

              > What affect do you think her dyslexia had on her work? Did you know
              > Delaney is a dyxlexic, too? Is this a qualification for winning the
              > Nebula?

              Correlation is not causation. =) I'm sure dyslexia had an effect on her
              work; she says so herself in the notes or something for "Speech Sounds," one
              of her short stories that also won a Hugo or Nebula.

              > Some of the passages in Lilliths brood reminded me of Delaney's
              > autobiography.>>>

              Haven't read it. I can't really get into Delaney, although I haven't tried
              lately.

              Nora
            • Chris Hayden
              ...
              Message 6 of 12 , May 13, 2006
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                --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, "Nora" <njem@...> wrote:
                >
                > > -----Original Message-----
                > > From: SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com
                > > [mailto:SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Hayden
                > > >
                > Have you read "Bloodchild"?
                >
                > Nora

                <<I got "Bloodchild and other stories" and yes, it is the story I
                remember. I read it in Asimov's Science Fiction when it first came
                out during my Third Great Quest in Speculative Fiction during the
                80's.

                In a note at the end of the story she states that she got the idea
                from obsessing over what might happen to her if she was attacked by a
                botfly during a trip to the Amazon.

                I got definite vibes of "Alien"--remember one of the most striking
                scenes in the movie was where the alien busts out of John Hurt's
                chest--an violent and bloody birth I suppose.

                I think that "Speech Sounds" which is also in that collection was a
                much better story.
                >
              • Chris Hayden
                ... much time ... fast as ... they re ...
                Message 7 of 12 , May 13, 2006
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                  --- In SciFiNoir_Lit@yahoogroups.com, Nora <njem@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > > >
                  > Ehhh... I don't define something's importance in a novel by how
                  much time
                  > is spent explaining how it ticks. I don't know how horses go as
                  fast as
                  > they do either, given how spindly their legs look, but I figure
                  they're
                  > pretty important in novels like "Black Beauty".

                  <<Yeah but if the horse had eight legs and this wasn't a fantasy
                  story you'd be wondering how it got there at least how it evolved and
                  why and how it could live and run--the essense of sci fi>>
                  >
                  > Granted, there are some SF fans out there who dismiss any SF that
                  doesn't
                  > basically teach you how to build a [insert gadget].

                  <<If you write a story about a space ship that travels faster than
                  light these days you are going to have to explain how-some of that
                  evolution of society and literature you were talking about>>

                  >
                  > >>> All civilizations are bad for somebody.

                  <<But they are good for somebody. It seems that all Butler's
                  civilizations are a drag--but she was a blueswoman>>
                  >
                  > >>> Lilith and her mates will not live to see the destruction of
                  the earth.

                  <,But if they live hundreds of years, and if in the third book humans
                  were on Mars, and if the Oankali regularly took humans there, it
                  would seem that they might go maybe to check it out or advance the
                  plot or something

                  Again that they didn't to me meant that Butler was not concerned
                  about the different worlds but what the people and aliens were doing
                  right here.

                  This is not a failing. This is what she decided to do. Nobody, after
                  all, can cram everything into a novel>>

                  > As for rooting around in the mud -- that just strikes me as
                  realistic. No
                  > civilization has ever fallen without a period of anarchy and
                  simpler living
                  > becoming necessary.

                  <<I suppose you get that from the general beliefs we have about what
                  happened after the Fall of Rome. Actually they have found out that
                  standards of living did not fall, and in some cases improved (people
                  weren't getting thrown to the lions in the arenas because the games
                  were banned, the large slums full of people on the dole that were in
                  the cities emptied out as people moved to the countryside, the
                  decentralization of government and power meant that more resources
                  stayed with the local areas, wars were not as big and destructive.

                  The technology, learning, etc during the High Middle Ages was
                  probably superior to that of the Roman Empire, on the whole.

                  Most people living in the Roman Empire were illiterate, ignorant and
                  died in their twenties. The upper classes had to live rougher but
                  the lives they led were killing them anyway

                  The Fall of the Roman Empire was a calamity mostly for the Roman
                  Senatorial class, the Court of the Emperor and the Bureacrats.
                  Certainly the Church did not weep. I suspect those who mourn it
                  would like to have one of their own>>

                  When you're writing over and over about the end of the
                  > Old World Order, that kind of requires writing about living rough,
                  > afterward.

                  <<See above>>

                  Personally I find this refreshing; too much of sci fi naively
                  > seems to assume that we'll all be living in shiny metal-walled,
                  antiseptic
                  > futures with robots to wait on us hand and foot. I find dirty,
                  clumsy
                  > futures in which people still have to work their asses off to be
                  much more
                  > plausible.

                  <<But some people have these futures now--they have robots doing a
                  lot of their work and people to wait on them hand and foot.

                  An image that keeps coming to me is a peasant leading a donkey loaded
                  with sticks looking skyward as a great futuristic craft soars
                  overhead--probably what you would see in India or South America
                  today>>
                  >
                  > >>>.
                  > > >
                  > > They're just people. They have the
                  > >> same baggage and hangups and limitations as anyone else.
                  > > <<As do prophets. They gotta eat, pay the rent, avoid mobs of
                  > > outraged heretic killers, etc.>>
                  >
                  > Ascend bodily into heaven, promise to be reincarnated at XYZ shrine
                  on the
                  > date of ABC, blah blah blah. Yeah. Regular folks. =)

                  <<You need to read the minor prophets of the Bible. There are major
                  prophets who do all that stuff, and there are minor ones who just
                  speak the Word and herd sheep, etc>>
                  >
                  > >>>".
                  > > ::surprised:: Why? It's no worse than what was in Xenogenesis.
                  More
                  > bloody, maybe, but hey, birth is supposed to be bloody.

                  <<I am sure I am not alone in saying I would die before I let anybody
                  do that to me--and if I wrote the story in the end the aliens would
                  have died screaming in their own blood as we rose up and killed them
                  all>>
                  >
                  > > I remember thinking only a woman would have written that story
                  like
                  > > that.
                  >
                  > ::snicker:: Okay, I'll give you that.
                  >
                  > > What affect do you think her dyslexia had on her work? Did you
                  know
                  > > Delaney is a dyxlexic, too? Is this a qualification for winning
                  the
                  > > Nebula?
                  >
                  > > > Some of the passages in Lilliths brood reminded me of Delaney's
                  > > autobiography.>>>
                  >
                  > Haven't read it. I can't really get into Delaney, although I
                  haven't tried
                  > lately.
                  >
                  > Nora

                  <<His autobiography actually reads like a novel. Try it again.
                  Every time I read it it gets better.

                  There is some graphic stuff in there, I think he gets raped three or
                  four times and he almost goes insane, but after all he is an artist--
                  he had to suffer.

                  Chris
                  >
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