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A status update

To all who use my course notes.

This is one of the charities that I support. The group has raised 50% of their target. They have a lovely book that you can download for free. Will you help them along the way to providing safe water for the world’s inhabitants?

“No donation is too small, no thought insignificant.”

Of Words and Water

It’s been almost four months since Of Words and Water was published. Let’s take a look at one of the important numbers connected with this publication. No, not downloads, even though they are very interesting to follow. No, what I’m talking about are the donations for WaterAid – the reason why we put together this anthology in the first place. Well, one of the main reasons anyway (another being our love for words).
After almost four months we’ve actually managed to raise half of our target of £500 with a total of 22 donations.

To all of you who have donated to the cause and downloaded the anthology we would like to say a huge thank you! Thank you for backing us up, for reading our words, and helping to improve access to clean water in some of the world’s poorest communities by donating to our cause – all the…

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Cory Doctorow – Little Brother

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

The last book for this course was a bit of a disappointment for me. I am not the only on. There was a thread on the forum called I hate “Little Brother” which was very popular.  I contributed to that thread :- “I didn’t hate the novel but it did nothing for me. For the first time I have nothing to say about it. “

The book left me cold and I struggled to get this essay out. In the end I did it very quickly based on games. A couple of the reviewers noticed that I had difficulty with it and that my conclusion was very weak.


Ursula Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkeness.

Credit Wikipedia

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

This was may favorite read so far. An introduction to a new author that I will definitely read more of.  The author is Ursula LeGuin and the novel is The Left Hand of Darkness One of my classmates said that “LeGuin is articulate and poetic in equal measure”, wonderfully put. There were so many themes. I loved the oriental aspect and her beautifully written prose, In the end I chose to write my essay on the use of names. This poem reminded me of Genly Ai and Estraven.

In the world I am
Always a stranger
I do not understand its language
It does not understand my silence

Bei Dao (more…)

Ray Bradbury – The Martian Chronicles.

English: Cover art by Frank E. Schoonover from...

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

A compilation of vignettes this week from Ray Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles.

The book is between a compilation of short stories and a full novel as the story of human influence on Mars and the Martians progress.  It was quite like a cowboy film again with the Americans conquering and making the planet into a copy of the country they left.

I loved the story Usher 11  – very imaginative and lots of horrid deaths. There were so many themes to chose from. I chose illusion over reality as it came up a few times. I didn’t want to go with one of the main themes as I saw loads of other essays on the internet about them and wished to do something more original.


Burroughs and Gilman

English: Cover art by Frank E. Schoonover from...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

Two stories this week from two different authors, Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland

I thoroughly enjoyed A Princess of Mars. It is like a typical western story but set on Mars. You have all the ingredients of the western and it opens with our hero being chased by Apaches.  He rescues the Damsel in distress, brings together the warring factions and saves the day in so many ways.  Of course it is racist and sexist but then what do you expect. from the man who wrote Tarzan. I think it is a great fun read.

The feminist Utopian novel ‘Herland’ was a dismal read. I don’t think I would have continued with it if it wasn’t for the course. It was like an anti man lecture. It just went on and on and on about what a perfect, logical and practical world we would live in without men.  There was no passion no sensuality and life was all about getting things one in the most logical and practical way. For me it felt like a feminist lecture – hours of it.

I wrote about how our damsel in distress would fare in Herland. I think she would be bored silly after her life on Mars.


H.G. Wells – The Island of Dr. Moreau

Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.

Four stories this week from the excellent H.G. Wells,  The Island of Dr. MoreauThe Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind,” “The Star”

I had difficulty with this essay. Firstly I had just come back from holiday and so had to do it in a hurry. I did Poe just before going away and this one when I got back. I started off writing an essay about the three first stories as I could see a connection in the arrogance of the three men. The each wanted to rule a part of their world. This resulted in their ultimate downfall. I could not see where ‘The Star’ fitted into the pattern.

I had a comment on my last essay to give it a title. I tried it this time but I don’t think it makes a noticeable difference.

The essay became too big and I ran out of time and so I just wrote about one and did it very quickly. Some of the comments about it not quite coming together are justly made.


Hawthorne and Poe

The Raven (Credit : Wikimedia)

Continuing with the on line course with Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin.  The reading list for this week were some short stories and poems  from Hawthorne & Poe. For Hawthorne’s we read from Mosses from an Old Manse including “The Birthmark,” “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” and “The Artist of the Beautiful” and from his Twice-Told Tales we read “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”. For Poe we read from The Portable Poe  the stories were “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” “The Oval Portrait,” “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “The Bells,” “The Raven,”.

Mr. Rabkin explained that each story had enough information for an essay and that we could chose any one or several stories. He was quite right. I found so much that could be said. I found some information about Poe’s life on Wikipedia and became interested in how his life was reflected in his work.  He had quite a tragic life losing many people who were close to him early on. His relationship with his young cousin who became his wife was particularity tragic and he was very affected by her early death.