Friday, December 14, 2012

Follow Friday - In Kill Bill O-Ren Ishii's Gang Was the Crazy 88s

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - My Library in the Making and Read, Breathe, Read Everyday.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: What is the last book that made you cry? Tell us about that scene.

I've been reading a lot of short fiction lately, so I could pick a couple of short stories rather than a full book. Two of the stories come from the same book - The Hugo Winners: Volume 3, Book 2 (read review). The first is The Meeting, by Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth, involving a father attending a meeting at a school for special needs children. His own son is disabled, and he desperately hopes that this school, at last, will be able to help his son at least a little bit. This seems completely understandable, until he gets home, and his wife tells him the doctor called and has asked for a decision concerning their son. Slowly the reader realizes that the doctor is not asking them to allow him to perform an operation to save their son, but rather to allow him to transplant a terminally ill "normal" child's brain into their son's body. In the end, the parents are left with the terrible choice of whether to kill their own son, an infant in the body of a ten year old, or refuse, and condemn another child to die. This is science fiction at its best - yes, it is about technology, but it is about the moral choices that new technology brings.

The second is The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. Le Guin, also from The Hugo Winners: Volume 3, Book 2. In the story Le Guin imagines an idyllic city blessed with peace and prosperity where the inhabitants live happy and joyful lives. But Omelas has a terrible secret: all of the good things that rain down upon its citizens only do so because a single child is kept locked away and ignored. All of the citizens of Omelas are told this, and all who stay consent to this practice, while those who refuse to live burdened by the knowledge that their happiness is bought with the misery of a small child can choose to "walk away" and leave the city. But despite their stance, no one who walks away every seems to choose to try to take the child out of the dank cellar, and that made me sad.

But the one story that always makes me weepy is Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, which I have read both in novel form and in its original shorter length in The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 (read review). Even though Charlie Gordon is not the nicest guy when he becomes smart, it is still crushingly painful to watch him as he sees all of his gains slipping away. Maybe because the story is told in the first person in the form of Gordon's own journal entries, but his anguish is palpable as he slowly returns from his short time as a brilliant super genius to his original mentally retarded state. You can feel his frustration at being unable to do things that came easily to him mere weeks before. You can sense his fear and dread that he will have to live as he was, which would have been fine had he never undergone the experimental treatments that enhanced his intelligence, but now, having been given a view into what he could be, that life is no longer tolerable to him. Even the fear that he will die, as the mouse Algernon did, seems almost trivial compared to living a life as "Charlie Gordon, who was once a super genius". The final lines of the story, in which Gordon plaintively asks that people keep putting flowers on Algernon's grave, a desperate cry that seems to ask if maybe they would remember Gordon too, always choke me up.

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  1. I haven't read any of these, but I will definitely check them out later. Great choices.
    New Follower

  2. @Marissa: I highly recommend the Hugo Winners series for any one who is interested in science fiction. They are full of great pieces of short fiction.

  3. I would have to say... Message In A Bottle made me cry, such a good and moving story...

    New follower , just click below to follow me back..i am a brand new blog! ((((hugs))))