Falling in Love with Robots

Notes: There are spoilers for basically everything I mention in here, but if you haven’t watched Big Hero 6, you may want to skip that section, which is toward the end.

In college, we had to do a big senior thesis project and I did mine on what it means to be human — if you’re not actually human. Among other media, I wrote about Blade Runner and Marge Piercy’s novel, He She & It and in both of those novels, there are characters who fall in love with robots (androids/etc) and I find this to be endlessly interesting. I’m not exactly sure why, but I seem drawn to this theme. I’ve written a couple of short stories along these themes and somehow end up reading/watching shows with this same theme.

A year or so (maybe more?) ago I watched a good (though not great) Japanese drama called Q10. Takeru Sato plays a teenager who falls in love with a robot-girl named Q10. I actually really loved the show up until the end (which was really dumb, but if you want to watch it, I recommend the show). I like the idea that in spite of the fact that Q10 isn’t actually human (as in flesh and blood), Takeru Sato’s character still falls in love with her. The same applies to the main character of He She & It (which everyone should read). The novel takes place in a far flung future where Shira falls in love with an android named Yod. But, like most of these stories, the love cannot ever really be. This is also true for Deckard in Blade Runner (the movie — the novel is a different issue).

Loving robots is never easy or acceptable — unless the universe you create makes it so. The friend who recommended Death Note to me also recommended a lovely manga series named Chobits which is about a young man who falls in love with Chi, an android. I really loved this series, so I’m not sure if my review can be unbiased (though is it supposed to be?) because I think that as soon as I knew what the story was about, I was going to like it. While Chobits is about more than just Hideki and Chi’s friendship and eventual relationship, it’s really central to the storyline. Like He She & It, there are two stories within the manga. In Piercy’s novel, Shira’s grandmother  (one of Yod’s creator) is telling Yod the story of the golem of the Warsaw ghetto as a parallel to his existence in Shira’s world. In Chobits, one of Chi’s creators is telling Chi’s story to her in the guise of a children’s book.

I find these parallels compelling for two reasons, one because creators take an interest in their creation — you see this in Blade Runner and, a little bit, at the end of Q10 (when you find out why the robot exists). But also because it gives the androids history and background, perhaps not of their creation, but a history that they can relate to. Yod’s not made of mud and Chi cannot remember her life before Hideki found her, but the stories they’re told define them all the same.

But as much as I love these stories about humans falling in love with robots/androids, it does ruin me for other things. For example, a few weeks ago I watched Big Hero 6 and when I should’ve loved it, I didn’t like it at all. There’s nothing wrong with the movie, not really, but instead I disliked the way the movie treated Baymax at the end of the movie. One of the things talked about in Chobits is the idea that the androids in that world can be reset and there’s character who fell in love with an android and she basically dies. Her husband (they were married), instead of having her reset, decides to treat her like you would a human and allows her to die without coming back. He doesn’t care that she could, in theory, have had all of their shared memories because he’d know she wasn’t the same. Hideki, toward the end of the series, has to decide if he really loves Chi and he has this same through process.

How does this relate to Big Hero 6i? Well, at the end of the movie Baymax sacrifices himself to save people’s live, including our main character, Hiro. It was clear that Hiro loved Baymax (who belonged to Hiro’s late, beloved brother) as if he was a real person (as far as a cartoon aimed at kids can go with that theme) and so when Baymax died, I was really, really upset. Even though I knew he probably wasn’t going to stay dead — and he doesn’t. In fact, we see that he passes along his chip full of memories to Hiro so that he doesn’t even die at all. Except to me, I felt cheated. You killed off this character who was an important character and who had developed into something of a person. Why kill him off at all? I know that I read too much into it and I shouldn’t care, but it’s hard not to when there’s this whole genre out there that I adore so much.

That being said, Big Hero 6 isn’t bad and everyone should watch it. I just hated it for very personal reasons.

And, with that, I’ll take any recommendations for people falling in love with robots/androids novels! And maybe one day I’ll finish reading David Levy’s book Love + Sex with Robots.

Kpop: Guilty Pleasures (or Why It’s Okay to Like Big Bang)

My history with kpop (aka Korean pop music, for those of you new around here) is short and full of 180s. The group that drew me in (Super Junior) is no longer a group I pay much attention to (save one or two of its’ members). The music I used to listen to (by SJ, ss501 and others) changed from the straight up boy band sounds (akin to Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC). I’ve only been a fan of kpop since October of 2011 (just over a year at the time of writing this entry) and the change from the generic boy band sounds to what I like now was a gradual process. If I took some time, I could probably even tell you when things changed, but that’s way more effort than I’m willing to expend.

It really started when I, for whatever reason, started listening to a group called CN Blue. The group is made up of four idols (popstars) who play their own instruments, but are in many ways just like the rest of the boy bands out there. What sets them apart, aside from the fact that they’re an actual band, is that their music isn’t just limited to four voices singing in unison most of the time. Once I realized how much I liked CN Blue, the more I couldn’t go back to the groups where every song sounds the same (I’m only exaggerating a little). I do want to say that there’s nothing wrong with liking boybands and the pop music they present. It was a nice gateway drug for me and I have no regrets. It was just time for me to move on.

And that moving on eventually led me to Big Bang. But first I need to back up a little. When I discovered that kpop existed, everyone was into Big Bang. They were this annoying group with this guy who had teal hair and I was having none of it. I ignored posts about them, I decided that I would never like this group and … well, that should’ve been a sign. But I ignored it. It wasn’t until the spring of this year (after my friend H discovered the wonders if Running Man) that I began to fall under the spell of Big Bang.

I could talk to you about how attractive some of the members are (and they are). I could discuss how much I love their music (a lot). I could even talk about how ridiculous the shows they’ve been on (as a group, in pairs or by themselves) have been. But I won’t. Instead I’ll tell you that I refused to like them. Even after watching their two (hilarious) episodes on Running Man, I refused. I don’t like them, I said. They’re kind of cute, but that’s it. I’ll tell you how I started waiting IRIS (and not-very-good-though-everyone-loves-it-but-me kdrama) not because of Big Bang’s rapper, TOP (no, really, are you saying you don’t believe me?) but because I wanted to watch it since everyone was talking about how awesome it was (it wasn’t, I can’t even bring myself to review it).

And then I can tell you that the true downward slide began when I started listening to Kang Dae Sung (aka Daesung aka my favorite person in Big Bang).  There’s something incredible about his voice. I can usually pick out his part in Big Bang songs, but I love his solo stuff the best (I want him to release a solo album, please). It was his newest song, Wings, that really won me over. It was the beginning of the end. I’ve come a long way. I own some Big Bang albums, I’m waiting for some DVDs and I have no regrets (again). They’re not really a guilty pleasure anymore (as they were when I started writing this entry over 6 months ago. Mostly they’re my favorite kpop group.

Enjoy Daesung singing Wings:

Back after a long absence.

Mao-The-Real-StoryI know, it’s been a while, but I’m back. I’ve scheduled a few posts that I’d written, but not posted, so keep an eye out for those over the next week or so. I do want to try to keep posting here regularly, so here’s my attempt at trying this again. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this up.

Currently reading: Mao: The Real Story by Alexander Pantsov and Steven I. Levine

I’m not very far into it, maybe 30 pages or so, but it’s pretty good. I photoed copied the pronunciation guide from the beginning of the book because I kept flipping back as I was reading. This’ll save both time and the book itself (I also, of course, made a copy for H, who is reading the book as well).

Music I’ve been listening to: Big Bang, 乔任梁 (Kimi Qiao), Céu, 方大同 (Khalil Fong), 周定緯 (Judy Chou), 許仁杰 (Stanly Hsu) and 潘裕文 (Pan Yu Wen).

It’s mostly Mandopop, with a couple others stuck in there. I’m awfully predictable.

What I’m watching: Time Between Dog and Wolf (kdama), Nice Guy (kdrama) and rewatching Story of a Man/A Man’s Story (kdrama). I’ve also watched The Hobbit (it was okay and yes, it was just okay).

And now, some links of note:

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Wednesday Nights: kdramas, martinis and Running Man

Starting the week after Christmas (last year), my friend (I’ll call her H) and I started hanging out on Wednesdays. We’ve been doing this every Wednesday (except for three: we missed one due to a family emergency and two due to illnesses) since that week after Christmas and it’s a lot of fun. It started out with us meeting at my job and going out to eat, then spending hours in Barnes & Noble. But after my bad experience with acquiring a signed copy of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars (B&N never did send it and it’s still on my account), we stopped going there and instead spent time all our time at Starbucks. Until the day we decided to watch episodes of Rooftop Prince  (watch for free at DramaFever) together. We managed to watch one and a half episodes one week and then the wireless at Starbucks just couldn’t handle it. What did we do? Started going to my apartment.

One of the things I really love about getting into kpop/Korean culture/etc is that I’ve ended up developing a really great friendship with H. I forgot how awesome it was to watch TV shows with other people — in the same place (my sister and I watch Star Trek via Netflix and chat online at the same time, but it’s not quite the same). I used to do this all the time in college. We never went out Friday nights, because that’s when X-Files was on (yes, I was in college in the late 90s). And it’s so much fun to be able to do this again.

photo via soulbeats

We’re almost done with Rooftop Prince (by the time this gets posted, we should have hopefully finished it) and then who knows what we’ll be watching. But it’s not just kdramas we’re into. We spend a lot of time talking/fangirling/just generally having fun. But we also plan to watch some Chinese movies. Though at the moment, we’re both really into this variety show called Running Man. It’s so hilarious that sometimes I laugh so hard that my face hurts. There’s just something about Korean variety shows that makes them way more interesting than anything on English speaking TV (I mean, my reality TV shows in English are stuff like Mythbusters, Top Gear, etc).

I know what you’re thinking, what about the martinis? We both realized that spending so much money eating out and getting drinks was costing us and solved by making our own martinis. We don’t do it every week, but it’s fun. Especially since my mom gave us a recipe for the pineapple upside down martinis.

Moral of this entry? Hanging out with H, watching Korean (or Chinese or American or WHATEVER) is way more fun than doing it alone. I didn’t know I was missing this until we started and I didn’t realize how much I needed this every week until my family emergency. The best part is that we’re both doing something that’s fun and sharing what we love. There might be other problems in our lives, but at least we have our Wednesdays (at sometimes Thursdays. Or Fridays. Or Saturdays. Or Sundays ….).

Friday Links (are relevant to my interests)

I kind of hope this’ll become a weekly feature, but I’m just testing it out at the moment. The topics will change, from week to week, and so will the format, maybe (at first). But anyway, here goes.

Let’s get this party started …

Not that there’s a party to get started, but it’s about time I started blogging about libraries, books, and everything else I adore. I suppose I should do an introductory post first, so I guess this is it. I’m not entirely sure who is going to read this (if anyone at all, to be quite honest, but that’s okay — even if it’s just my sister reading (hi sis!), I’ll survive).

Hello, my name’s Sarah and I’m addicted to the internet. And also to books, Asian pop (mostly mandopop and kdramas at the moment) movies, tv shows and doing my job well. I know, that’s a lot to take in. And yes, before you ask, I am on Facebook (maybe I’ll link you, maybe not). I’m also on tumblr, twitter, LJ and a bunch of other sites — but no, you don’t get that info (unless you know me personally, and even then you are subject to my whims). Eventually there’ll be aclockworksub everywhere. I hope. If I don’t slack off like I totally did the last time.

So what else do you need to know about me? Oh, I don’t know. You can find out more in the about me section, but what you should know is that I like to read. No, scrap that. I love to read. That’s not, of course, why I became a librarian — but it’s definitely something that’s really helpful when you’re a librarian. One of my favorite things about being a librarian (teen and adult) is reader’s advisory. If you’re new to libraries, that means I get to help you figure out what to read next. And I love it, especially if you’re into or interested in getting into teen/ya books (I firmly believe that adult can and should read the shit out of YA — yes, the books are that good).

In my free time I watch a lot of TV (thank you Netflix and DramaFever), but I also watch some movies. I’m really lucky because I have three friends (two in the library world) who love to go see movies with me. Which explains how someone who doesn’t like the Twilight series has seen all the movies. Seriously. I have. I’ll write about that someday, too. I’ve also seen loads of bad stuff (seriously, who thought that Red Riding Hood was a good idea?), but it’s fun.

So, what’s the point of this blog? To write about shit. Lots of shit. YA books, bad movies and all sorts of stuff I love (and hate). Why? Because it’s time I did it again. Will I be able to keep it up? Probably not. But, hey, why the hell not?