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Postmodernist Fantasy & Science Fiction Essay

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Both "Pretty Boy Crossover" and "Flowers of Edo" share a similar and resounding theme. People are afraid of change, death, being left out, and not knowing things. People would rather choose to evade these realities, or even decide to escape them by doing suicide. They do whatever it takes to fit in, to be worshipped, and to be immortal. They do all of this in order to maintain their sanity, because they can't accept being outcast, or can't accept death. People would rather do what's popular instead of what's right because they cannot

stand the fact of that someone might be talking behind their backs if they don't; they would much rather fit into society. However, Pat Cadigan's "Pretty Boy Crossover" and Bruce Sterling's "Flowers of Edo" both portray protagonists that defeat the odds and decide to live in an actual reality where they choose to maintain their values and decide to do what's moral, despite society's strong influence and pressure.

"Pretty Boy Crossover," is about confused and rebellious future teenagers ,like Bobby, who literally go digital instead of getting things like piercing or tattoos. Bobby is one of the people that can't accept reality, so he chooses to go digital. His society has adopted the fact that once your 18, there is no longer a reason for you to live. From that age on, everything about you, whether it be physical or mental, begins to disintegrate. As a result, digitizing oneself has become extremely popular in the society of "Pretty Boy Crossover," and everyone must do it; if you don't, then you will be seen as a pariah amongst society. Not only that, but you will miss out on all the supposed "benefits" that the company that is selling this product has to offer. By going digital, all your fears of death, illness, and pressure will disappear. In the digital, you control everything including how you look, who calls the shots, and who gets to join your club. In the digital world, you are living an eternal youth where your dreams come true. "You don't have to die anymore, Bobby says silkily. Music bounces under his words. It's beautiful in here. The dreams can be as real as you want them to be" (548). You also get to be the center of attention where everyone loves and praises you. In "Pretty Boy Crossover", going digital means you don't have to do anything, and live the life that you've always dreamt of. People can't accept the fact that their dreams won't come true or that they can die from an illness. So out of total fear, they decide to become digital, which is a false reality with no uncertainties: there is no pain but only pleasure, you get to choose your destiny and your dream will come true in the digital world. "This can be you. Never get old, never get tired, it's never last call, nothing happens unless you want it to and it could be you. You. You" (549). In return, the corporation takes your body, controls your mind through a chip, and takes your freedom of choice. Is this all worth it?

According to a superficial teenager known as the Pretty Boy (whose actual name is not mentioned in the story), going digital isn't worth it because he refuses to give up existence in actual reality and the freedom of choice that comes along with it. He believes that giving up your body and mind to go digital is immoral: that it's as if you're not living. Here we see a critique of the human subject: Pretty boy knows that society forces you to do things that you otherwise wouldn't do; that society influences you unconsciously, like a drug. The pressure of society and populism overcome your negative feelings about the situation, so you decide to do what's popular, instead of what's right. Here we see that Bobby decides to live his life through an illusion because he can't handle the fact that he could die or get sick, because this would drive him insane. This characteristic that we see in Bobby is not only evident in him, but in humanity. People strive to live and strive to look good in other people's eyes. Bobby, as well as everyone else in the story could not accept life after 18, and would rather have killed themselves then live. "The night before Bobby went over, he tried to talk him out of it, knowing it wouldn't work. If they'd actually refused him, Bobby would have killed himself, like Franco did" (548). However, Pretty Boy believes that there is life after 18, and that you have to accept the fact that you will get old and die because that is part of life. And even when things seem only dark and bleak after the age of 18, at least you still have the opportunity to try and live your dream in a reality where you can make your own decisions. Pretty boy would rather be in control of his future. He cannot accept the fact that he is not real, and that a company will make decisions for you. He would rather be in control of his own destiny. He is not afraid of not knowing what's in store for him in the future; and he's happy that he doesn't. "He keeps moving, holding to the big thought, making a difference, and all the little things they won't be making a program out of. He's lightheaded with joy- He doesn't know what's going to happen. Neither do they" (556).

The vision inspired by "Pretty Boy Crossover" is hopeful because the fact that the pretty boy decides to live in actual reality means that he can try to fight the corporations and make all the people aware of what they are doing. He can start a revolution in which new ideals are born and change people's minds about living after 18. He can give the people reasons as to why there is still so much left to life after the age of 18. The most important reason would have to be the fact that you can choose your destiny and live your dream, instead of letting a company decide what's best for you. He can start a new era of hope where people will begin to realize that life is a gift not to be taken granted and should be treasured instead.

A similar problem is seen in today's problem with illegal drugs. The digital world in "Pretty Boy Crossover" can be compared to drugs used today. Drugs bring you into your own realty where you can do whatever you want. The high brings you into another reality with no worries or fears; you fell invincible. You escape reality and create a world for yourself with your own rules. In the digital world, the same rules apply because you can do what you want when you want. Most of all, most people do drugs because they are driven by pressure or society. They do it because everyone else is doing it, because of mob psychology.

We see this same problem in Bruce Sterling's "Flowers of Edo." Once



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