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Sam J. Lundwall No Time for Heroes, 1971
Sam Jerrie. Lundwall, 1941Swedish science fiction writer, translator, publisher, and singer
Sam J. Lundwall, 1941 • Translated science-fiction-related articles and works from Swedish into English. • Debut as a writer in the 1950s when he wrote for Häpna!. • active as a photographer and freelance writer. During the 1960’s • Produced the LP "Visor ivårtid". • In 1968, he worked as a producer for Swedish TV and made a TV series about science fiction. • In 1969, he published his first book-length work on science fiction, "Science fiction – frånbegynnelsen till våradagar". • During the 1990s he continued publishing science fiction in his own publishing company • Lundwall was also the editor of the science fiction magazine Jules Verne-Magasinet between 1972 and 2009
Hard-core science fiction • Far-away • Almost unrecognizable • Extreme / exaggerated • Pithy dialogue • Superficial characters / stereotypes • Unbelievable action • Highly developed technology • Entertainment value? • Message?
Avatar, 2009 • http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi937886745/ • http://www.imdb.com/video/screenplay/vi703005721/
A little bit of background of what’s going on in 1971 -Scandinavian Area News- • Dutch doctors establish first abortion clinic • Norway begins drilling for oil in North Sea -World News- • US ended trade embargo with China • Vietnam War • Still the Cold War -Technological Advancements- • Apollo 15 crew first to ride in a lunar rover on the Moon • Texas Instruments makes 1st pocket calculator • Intel releases the world’s first microprocessor • First internet chat room appears
Plot Summary • The new “Emperor” of the Universe sends out fleets to loot old planets. These old worlds were part of a vast empire that is now long gone, but are defended by cybernetic brains. • Bernard Rordin, a scout, “volunteers” to go down to the planet. The Central Brain begins to talk to him. • Bernhard wanders the planet, accompanied by the frustrating Robofriend. He discovers strange people and robots scattered across the planet, including cowboys, whores, and gods. The Central Brain reveals it has recreated these things from old books by using protoplasm. • Bernhard is perpetually harassed by the Robofriend with its advertising schemes and his superiors who demand that he ‘does his duty’. Even though Bernhard fears Ironjaw and Superhawk, he ignores them, and spends most of his time trying to escape from the Central Brain’s creations. • Is married to a nurse, honeymoons in Dracula’s castle, visits Valhalla, is thrown in jail, fights a gladiator match against Ironjaw, etc.
Bernhard has no interest in the planet; only wishes to remain alive and seek vengeance on his superiors. • Ironjaw lands on the planet to find Bernhard but is defeated by the protoplasm creations., the ancient Gods. • Early on, Bernhard meetsa cowboy – robot who turns out to be the leading robot in the Death to Man League initiated by Dr. Immanuel Asimov, ”immortal, terrible mad scientist” (116) • The Central Brain is constantly following Bernhard’s movements; it can talk to him and observe him through any object in the world. Alternately, it threatens, harasses, and expresses its love for him. • Bernhard eventually finds the Central Brain’s control station and lures the Central Brain to show himthe manual override, so he can take over the planet. • However, instead, the Robofriend takes over as the new leader of the Death to Man League, forcing Bernhard to return to the fleet with his insufferably doting wife and a mentally crippled Ironjaw.
The role of Time in the Story • Very futuristic approach - but there are continual hints about history • The reflection of history begins when Bernard lands on the planet in some ancient ruins • Merging of the past and future throughout Bernard’s adventures • The futuristic idea of Robofriend and the central brain the past nostalgia of the Cowboy-robot character • The idea of God or gods? Whenever Bernard says “God” the central brain appears – and it has created ancient gods. • Lundwall includes: • Castle Dracula (Dracula’s home), Odin and Thor (Norse gods), Conan the Conqueror (from a fantasy book written in 1935), nurse-romance books, and Dr. Asimov (Isaac Asimov, famous science fiction author – of robot tales a.o.)
Influences of Technology? • Space travel and a vast Empire – Star Wars • Self-repairing space-ships • References to an “ugly” gun – enormous amounts of gun-power, • Cybernetic brains defending planets with heavily armed defense systems • The Robofriend, live advertisements, spy etc. • The role of the Central Brain – AI • Creation of all kinds of objects – for desire, e.g. women, or battle, e.g. monsters • Technology in general was in essence the driving force behind Bernhard’s existence and the book’s plot
Utopia / Dystopia ? • A society not worthy of humans • Central Brain forges the relationship between humans and technology – however, Bernard didn’t use the brain to his advantage till the end • Totalitarian State run by soldiers • Captain Superhawk, Old Ironjaw • No choice - • Bernard had no choice when he ‘volunteered’ • Family is non-existent • No mention of children or real marriage, only fake romance in Terry’s artificial mind • Disgust at the thought of real birth • Very technology- driven, materialistic society • Credit cards – Robofriend – Central Brain
The futuristic Dystopia • Bernhard, the Hero escapes and takes over the Central Brain • But – then, he is immediately ousted from power by Robofriend • Space empire • Space as the new frontier • Women seen as instruments for various sexual pleasures • Terry and the chamber maid – robots, creations etc. • Cowardice – both Robofriendand Bernard • Everyone seems to be a soldier – with bad pay • $600 was half a year’s pay • Self-interest and self-preservation are the highest virtues • No one can trust one another • Bernard and the cowboy – no help in danger
Technology • Advanced beyond the people’s ability to control it. • Central Brain is all powerful but insane; robots don’t follow the rules • Mostly scavenged from older societies; information now only used for ‘treasure hunting’ • Man is dependent on technology and is regressing as technology is advancing • AI reflects mentality of the people around it • Central Brain is God. Omnipotent, Omniscient, Ubiquitous. • Magical abilities of technology taken for granted. Anything is possible, but no one is ready to appreciate it. • Mass destruction of spaceships through the warped, creative powers of Central Brains. • The presence of the Gods? - a comment on the changing / unchanging nature of warfare
Society • Primarily the military • Extreme capitalism • Low wages; must pay for everything. • Interchangeable hierarchy; commanders easily replaceable with no real difference. Fleet admiral makes no decisions. • Control through fear, bribery, cronyism • Use of robots to intimidate, exasperate • Healthy relationships impossible • Humanity is physically, mentally weakened • Operating on basic, self-centered emotions. No forethought, rational thinking, or artistic creativity. • Inconsistent attitudes, opportunistic, and volatile resembling child-like behavior. Frequently violent, unwilling to listen, and focusing on survival – the animal instinct..
Literature • Planet is overrun by the protoplasm creations drawn from old books. • Everything from old myths and classic literature to cheap novels and comic books • Effect of literature on society • Old society had used protoplasm mostly for sex. Literary creations done after the collapse. • Dr. Immanuel Asimov, leader of the Death to Man League • Reference to Isaac Asimov, famous sci-fi author • 8 foot tall mad scientist. • Death to Man League mirrors his ‘I, Robot’ series. • 1st law of robotics mentioned, broken repeatedly.
Fun Quotes • “It’s the central brain’s fault. Real pervert he is.” • “Death to Man!” • “No one told me there were monsters here!...They sent me down here to die.” • “Have you ever heard of anybody being born of a woman?...You make me sick!...Don’t use no dirty words here mister, or I will turn you inside-out! What kind of pervert are you anyway? • “Two hundred thousand years I have given my best for Man, and this is the thanks I get for it!” • “Don’t care about my feelings. Go on and drool over that wretch!” • “He had never been of trusting nature, and this stay on this planet had given him ample reasons to distrust everybody and everything that for some altruistic reason or other wanted to help him.” • “God Almighty!” “Yes, I’m here, what do you want.”
Questions • Explain the meaning of the book’s title. • Characterize and explain the role of Robofriend as a commentary on consumerism • What gender do you believe the Central Brain is if any, and is that important to the relationship between Bernhard and the brain? Characterize this relationship. • What was the role of women in this story? • Explain the ending – what will happen afterwards? • Compare this book to our previous readings. – and discuss whether it has any relevance to us today.Discuss what was your favorite and least favorite part of the story and why this is so.