Tag Archives: alien

Literary Devices from A to Z – Brought to you by the letter X




is for Xenophobia





Xenophobia is a fear of strangers or of the unknown. It is frequently used as a device in literature, especially science fiction literature.

My theory is that, in times of war, the stranger is the enemy, be they German, Russian, or Mid-Eastern. During times of war there is an upswing in the number of books, movies and television shows where the stranger is the enemy. In World War I and II, most people had no idea what the typical German was like, except that s/he was different from typical Americans (or Canadians or Britains). Ditto Russians during the Cold War or people from the Mid-East since 9-11. It makes sense to cast the stranger with the unknown culture, the object of fear, in the position of the enemy in the media.

In times of so-called “peace”, there is an upswing in the number of popular culture projects in which the alien–as in from another planet–is the enemy. This is because with the advent of the Internet, the world has gotten smaller and we pretty much know about every culture there is. But a stranger from another planet? Now that is something to fear.

Most works simply assume aliens are out to annihilate the human race. Aliens speak a foreign language, they look different than us, and their culture–if it exists–would be different than ours as well. The truth is, most aliens would probably look more like Star Trek‘s Horta than its Klingons. Does a steaming mass of lava  or a shimmering plasma field have a culture? Can it/he/she/schlee have a culture?

I’m not sure what is more frightening to me, the likes of  Hannibal Lechter and Joe Carroll, or Lrrr and Ndnd from Omicron Persei 8. What’s scarier to you–an ordinary human psychopath or an alien from another planet? Would you fall prey to xenophobia and automatically assume the alien is your enemy? Post your opinions in the comments below.



Can “Defiance” Defy the Odds?

Defiance is a combination of both a TV show and a video game

Defiance premiered on Showcase Monday night, to lukewarm reviews. I, on the other hand, rather liked the show, and will be watching further episodes. Defiance takes place 33 years after Earth is invaded by an alien ship, called The Ark, transporting seven different types of sentient beings from the same solar system. They arrive on Earth, terraform it to their liking, and now the aliens and humans are trying to co-exist in the dystopia. Defiance is the town that rose up from the ashes of St. Louis.

Julie Benz is terrific as Mayor Amanda Rosewater. She plays her with a maturity that haven’t yet seen in her other roles. Grant Bowler is Joshua Nolan, a scavenger who makes his living collecting and selling the remains of The Ark as they fall to Earth (a phenomenon known as Arkfall). He arrives in Defiance and gets into trouble defending a boy accused of murder. He gets out of trouble by agreeing to find the real murderer and winds up staying on as sheriff of the town.

Defiance may suffer from a case of trying to do too much too soon. I don’t think I’ll ever learn all of the alien species (collectively known as The Voltans), and the soap-opera style subplots pile up until the last minutes of the two hour episode. In spite of the premise’s predictability (for example, I knew Nolan would become sheriff the moment the current sheriff is killed), and inconsistencies (Why terraform a planet to rid it of its greenery when it is the greenery of the planet that makes it desireable?) I enjoyed the show due to its nod to Shakespearean archetypes. I loved the Romeo and Juliet vibe going on between the son of the Tarr family and daughter of the McCawley clan. Just as entertaining is the scene between Datak and Stahma Tarr in the tub. Upset that his son will marry a human, Datak rants that his wife will spoil his bath if she continues to talk about his son’s choice for a mate. That’s when Stahma channels her inner Lady Macbeth and convinces Datak that if the children marry and something were to happen to the girl’s father and brother, then their family would stand to inherit the McCawley business and eventually control most industry in the town. The implication is that Datak will have something to do with the death of the male McCawleys. Later, when Datak is disgusted by his son’s conformation to the human custom of giving the McCawley girl a ring as a promise to wed, Stahma calms him by suggesting the mere fact the children are engaged will be enough to prompt Papa McCawley’s demise.

Defiance is unique in that quite a bit of money and planning has went into the simultaneous release of the show and video game and (according to online sources) the hope is that watching the series will unlock hints for the game and playing the game will further endear viewers to the characters. While I won’t be playing the game any time soon (that’s just not my thing), I am looking forward to next Monday’s episode, especially in light of the cliff-hanger posed by the episode’s final moments in which former Mayor Nicky Riordan, played with sinister flare by Finnoula Flanagan, hints that there is something subversive about to happen in the near future that will change life on the planet as they know it.

I will definitely be watching; will you?

graphic from:http://www.slashgear.com/defiance-is-both-a-tv-show-and-a-video-game-08276908/#entrycontent

About the Author

Elise Abram, English teacher and former archaeologist, has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until she was asked to teach Writer’s Craft in 2001 that she began to write seriously. Her first novel, THE GUARDIAN was partially published as a Twitter novel a few summers back (and may be accessed at @RKLOGYprof). Nearly ten years after its inception Abram decided it was time to stop shopping around with traditional publication houses and publish PHASE SHIFT on her own.

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