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An Endearing and Instructive Immigration Story Told With Wit and Aplomb

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Funny In Farsi: A Memoir Of Growing Up Iranian In America by Firoozeh Dumas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A refreshing memoir by a talented, entertaining author who speaks in clear direct language and tells great stories, especially about her extended family. This valuable book illuminates the life of an immigrant and narrates the American dream in humorous and ever optimistic language. It's an especially important book at a time when the value of immigration is questioned by self-proclaimed patriots who would have us stick our heads in the sand. The lesson I learned from Dumas's story is how worthy she and her family are, not just to be in America, but to represent the ideal of American life.

I would have given four stars but I felt she could have elaborated on the aftermath of the revolution in Iran more, especially the plight of its people. In any case, I liked it quite a lot. It is a very good and informative read! Time well spent!



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Powerpoint Presentation for UCF Writing Class

Here is a powerpoint presentation I created depicting the writer's market in 2019 for authors to make informed choices.

PDF:

PDF Version

PPT:

Powerpoint Version

Enjoy!

Bad User on Device

(for Damon Knight)

Though Riley awakens only two hours after falling asleep, her alarm will not negotiate peace. By the time the coffee’s aroma pervades the kitchen, she realizes she will never shake off this hangover in time to confront the office smilers where she interns at Life Inc., America’s premier self-help conglomerate. She sighs with the knowledge there are days to enjoy and others, like today, just to survive. To guarantee her survival, she gobbles some pills before stepping into the wintry city. A few seconds later, a nondescript package the size of a shoe box thuds upon the sidewalk a few steps ahead, splattering her Life uniform with street sludge. She expects to spot a Smile delivery drone above, but the sky shows nothing but a snow-threatening slate. Pedestrians step around the delivery. No one stops. Riley moves closer and hazards a glance at the label: no letters, just logograms—she assumes Chinese. It is heavier than she expects. Once she carries it back to her por…

Just a Little Touch of Mojo Hand

I haul groceries to my fourth-floor studio one landing at a time. My bottle of discounted rum, a 5 lb. sack of potatoes, and a rocket-shaped golden squash—so irresistible at the market—anchor me down like sandbags. Around me wafts the dinners of my neighbors. Sweat drips from my face and armpits. At my door, I dig for keys, but they escape, bounce off my knee, and land at the balcony’s edge. Sighing, I set my bags upon a nondescript pattern of mauve and cream tiles. Below me, a door opens, Landlady Busybody’s. “Mrs. Queen,” she says. “What now?” I sound unjustly exasperated. Busybody is not her real name—I name characters outside my books too. I snatch up my keys. “The rent…” “The rent? What about the elevator?” “It was working.” She addresses her words more to the ether than to me. “I’ll pay you next week,” I promise and ferry my groceries across the threshold. “But you better fix the damn elevator.” Inside, I lean against my door and breath once luxuriously. Because emptiness terri…

Questions of Consent

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Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked Autonomous. I thought Newitz’s vision of a future world with drug patent hoarding corporations and pirates willing to defy them scarily realistic. I also thoroughly enjoyed the embedded discussion of capitalism’s overreach of claiming human biological data, and the implicit criticism of how corporations gone wild will violently assert themselves to defend what they have appropriated. Newitz’s vision of information technology, an area of expertise for me, is also well-informed, and the robotic characters—whose assertion of constructed independent conscious will is a key focus in the story—are clever and subversive.

We see this patent gold rush in real life already, both in information technology, nanotech, and pharmaceuticals. Newitz pushes the phenomenon forward and hypothesizes an evolution of the same kind of white hat hacker that performs the vital service of keeping the Internet usable for the rest of us. These IP…

“Prime Meridian” and Its Many Marses

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Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “Prime Meridian” is about Mars, though not the red planet nor the Roman god of war. Instead, this story features a black-and-white Mars decorated with cheap studio effects, another Mars that exists only as a bond between a young couple that cannot survive the chasm of their inequity of wealth, and a third Mars that calls to Amelia’s soul from a billboard. Each Mars drives the plot and situates the story in terms of real world history, culture, and the history of science fiction.

In Moreno-Garcia’s near future, Mexico City’s wealthy exploit the despair of vast masses of disadvantaged youth in a hyper version of today’s gig economy. Amelia, our protagonist, abandoned her studies of urban agriculture to care for her ailing, dying mother and is saddled with ferrying her sister's children around in the bargain. Amelia calls herself a freelancer on her CV, noting it is a “euphemism for unemployed.” Her …

My review of The Handmaid's Tale

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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is brilliant literary science fiction. I will discuss the literary aspects of it in a moment, but first it’s important to place it squarely in the domain of science fiction.

First, under Darko Suvin's definition of sci fi, the question is whether there is cognitive strangeness and nova. They are very apparent, specifically the new assignment of gender roles, along with the reason they exist. The nova introduced are ecological disasters, an enormous rise in failure to Gileadeans to sexually reproduce, and the imposition of a fundamentalist government that divides women by their function, entirely controlling them. We know (again from the lecture) that Atwood was responding to societal changes, such as the rise of the Moral Majority, which lends a spooky plausibility to the strangeness, making it not so strange and that much scarier.

Delany's definition is wider. He asks whe…