School has begun

As I’ve mentioned here before, I teach summer school at VCU, teaching two 4.5 week classes back to back. These are a semester’s work crammed into less than a third the time, so they keep me busy. Hence my silence here. I start the class with the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers—the 1956 version—which IMO holds up incredibly well. None of this year’s students had ever seen it before. Today, we discuss Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, our first of five novels. It doesn’t hold up so well—too much bombast and speechifying. The waif who turns the fireman around credits her good sense to getting a good spanking when she needed it. In general the treatment of women leaves a lot to be desired, even for the 50’s. I’ll probably return to Bester in future.

9 thoughts on “School has begun

  1. Awww man! I wish I was taking your class, it sounds great! I am not sure if I’ve seen the first Body Snatchers version. I caught the version with Donald Sutherland recently; that was pretty darn good.

    I do love the opening of Fahrenheit 451. Such beautiful prose.

  2. I quite agree about the opening of 451.
    I also show the Donald Sutherland version of Body Snatchers later on in the course. In the past the class has been roughly equally divided as to which they prefer.

  3. Just remember Dennis, 451 has nothing to do with censorship. Not at all. There is no big brotherness in it at all. It’s only about TV rotting minds. Bradbury says so it’s gotta be true.


    The Donald Sutherland Body Snatchers? So wait, he did The Puppet Masters AND a Body Snatchers movie?

  4. Yeah Dustin, Ray says a lot of things, but it isn’t about conventional censorship. No one ideology is suppressed but the very notion of ideologies or literature that’s about anything.

    You should check out the 1978 Body Snatchers. Safe to say, it’s better than Puppet Masters, which I’d all but forgotten. Sutherland is a health inspector who discovers the pod infestation. Jeff Goldblum is also in it playing a misunderstood writer instead of an explainy scientist.

  5. Ray does say quite a bit, doesn’t he? Hehe. The suppression of the notion of ideologies was really what always struck me about that book and why I still have a little place in my heart for it.

    I actually rented the ’78 Body Snatchers tonight. Probably watch it tomorrow. I do love me some Donald Sutherland. Which is why I actually sat through Puppet Masters…which…ow. That made Total Recall look like a brilliant adaptation by comparison.

    Speaking of Bester, I picked up The Demolished Man today at B&N. Never read him, so it should be fun!

  6. My own favorite Bester is The Stars My Destination (Tyger, Tyger), but The Demolished Man is fine too. I just reread Do Androids etc. for the sixth or seventh time, and I still love it. Now that would make a wonderful movie.

  7. I saw that one too, but I went with The Demolished Man because I was intrigued by the police procedural aspects of it. And the bizarre typesetting for the psychic discourse.

    DADOES (I’ll never tire of that acronym), really is a wonderful novel. It would be interesting to see it done as a movie. Blade Runner, hands down, is one of my all time favorite movies, particularly of the sci-fi set. But, all of the bits about “kipple” and “Mercerism” really add something to the book. Dick really nails the grasping-at-straws nature of the Average Joe in a marvelous way.

    I just finished Lies, Inc. today. Not Dick’s best. Started out interesting, got a bit too acid-trippy. But really, he wrote so much so quickly one can only expect some of it to be a bit weak.

    Reading Abarat now. Clive Barker really should stick to YA fantasy. Three chapters in and I’m already in love with it.

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