Archive for March, 2012


I get pretty excited when thinking about future technology (now that I think about it, who doesn’t?). While searching for something that can feed my dreams of the future, I came across something that was… absolutely incredible. A world in which nearly everything is controlled by touch-screens.

Ok, so some of this is kind of ridiculous. But seeing as how the iPad and touch screen bus stop maps on campus have been implemented and are currently being used, a lot of this stuff might actually be possible! That’s amazing. Dreams coming to life here! If I can afford it.

 

"A.I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001)

After reading this very unique short story, I was confused as to why Harty decided to create the character Cole as a robot. Initially, the main conflict of the story seems to be solely a father trying to save his injured son, but as the story progresses and flashes back to the past, the conflict reveals itself to be more complicated. There seems to be two external conflicts in this story: one between the father and son, and the other between the father and mother, Mike and Dana. The internal conflict, on the other hand, is within only Mike: his desire to maintain his marriage while refusing to allow the change of his son (by “upgrading” him). The couple of external conflicts that work upon Mike is successful in creating even more tension, pulling him apart in many directions, and therefore strengthening the tension of the inner conflict.

Now for the most unique decision on the author’s part – what is the effect of making Cole a robot? If the conflicts that I listed above are accurate, then couldn’t the story have been written without the inclusion of a robotic character, perhaps by creating a human son with an illness? Constantly throughout the story, the robotic son is described with human characteristics such as experiencing worry, dreams, pain, sadness, etc. The only difference is that the fact that Cole is robotic prevents his “death” in the case of physical injury. Considering that the main conflict is directly revolved around the parents’ son, the decision to make Cole robotic gains value. Every time Cole ends up in a terrible physical accident, Dana is reminded that living with this robotic boy is a “dream” (as she terms it), and wakes up to the reality that their real son is dead. Although the decision to make the son human and ill as opposed to robotic could result in the same conflicts listed above, the robotic feature is essential to the particular conflict in this story, in which the theme of accepting reality is presented. A human son with an illness does not easily allow for that. The decision for a robotic character seems unnecessary at first, but is actually the foundation for the conflict in this story.

The mark is not disappearing. I can’t stop staring at it – a thick, jagged “X” in black, off-centered on the back of my right hand.  It’s almost as if the mark was taken from another world and branded onto my hand, as my own. My goodness, why can’t I wash it off? It sticks out its sharp tongue with a red, dangerous smile, laughing at me for trying to hide it. Erasing this is impossible. I look over to my left and see a hand clean, untainted, and glowing. I look to my right and see a bold, outrageous one, pale in comparison. I wish they were both shining goodness. I follow from my right hand to my forearm and up to my shoulder. I know it isn’t, but I think this arm is dying. My left tries to regain control, all the way from my hand to my chest, but my right overpowers it. My gaze falls upon the mark on my right hand, and I recall its birth from several nights before on a dark, empty street in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

            The sound of a bell resounds from a tower nearby on a Tuesday, flowing through the lifeless street as I nervously trek towards my first night club experience. Many people may not think going to a club is a big deal, but for me it’s like jumping into sewage with my nicest clothes on. I’m not one of those people that go out on nights just to get drunk and “have fun.” If people were honest, they would probably testify to how good of a person I am. But anyways, weirdly, everything is still, except for the occasional flickering of hazard lights from an unoccupied car. Even the red lights above road intersections forever stop, hanging in the space above. It’s crazy, I know, but I keep looking frantically around me to assure security. Just when I think the area is clear, I hear the rattling of metal chains, and sense a person about to attack me. I look back with breath held. With a sigh of relief, I see a student running with a heavy backpack in the direction opposite to me, and I continue forward in worry. My heart pounds rapidly as I arrive at the street of my destination. I stop in my tracks as I look with contempt into the distance and see the sign of the night club, protruding its uniqueness with an enticing orange light, “NECTO.”

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From the beginning of this short story, tension is created through the aggressive attitude of the protagonist, Jack. His personality is portrayed by the specific word choice on the very first page such as “humiliate,” “mercilessly,” and “rotten,” all spoken from first-person. Early on, the source of this attitude begins to reveal itself with the introduction of another character, Carl, living a happy life with a family, opposite to Jack’s. The intense interactions between Jack and Carl reveal Jack’s unreasonable hatred towards Carl, hinting at a deep, inner conflict related to his past family that leads the reader to become “hooked” to discover more. A new character is then introduced (aside from the title), Happy Chang. As Jack searches to discover the true nature of Happy’s relationship with his daughter Lori, the inner conflict and pursuit of a goal of Jack moves uphill, inevitably towards an anticipated resolution and climax. Happy Chang’s reaction to the injuring of his daughter near the end of the story triggers this, causing Jack to gain the confidence to admit his failure as an umpire, a huge change from his usual self. By now, his goal is clear and and has been confronted: to gain forgiveness from his family as a new man that accept responsibility and failure. This story is excellently crafted in such a way as to lead up to this one moment of resolution, building tension on the way through the protagonist’s external conflicts in his interactions with other characters.