The High in the Low: Highlights of the High and Low Tech
I found myself interested in the High and Low Tech scenarios we studied belonging to Literature of the Future. I was drawn to how they seemed to intermingle and show up in the others story. It seemed like you can’t have one without the other. So, for my web highlights essay I wanted to seek out other students work on the High and Low Tech to gain some different perspectives on the topic.
The first essay I found that covered these topics was Timothy Morrow’s paper Whether High or Low: Humans will Adapt. I had actually read another of Morrow’s papers for my midterm, so I knew him to be a good writer. I also found the theme of his essay to be interesting. Adaptation is certainly a form of evolution, so I definitely learned something by harkening it back to one of the Literature of the Future narratives, but also the struggle to do was I thought was a fascinating choice of topic. Morrow discusses Low Tech scenarios in relation to adaptation in Octavia Butler’s Speech Sounds, “In the same way that Low Tech Science Fiction is about human attributes and virtue rather than flashy technology, “Speech Sounds” depicts Rye as a survivor who adapts adequately to her new world environment.” (Morrow). I found I agreed with this point of view, that Low Tech is more closely tied with virtue and humanity, which is something I didn’t pick up on in class.
Adria Weger had a similar view of in her analysis of House of Bones, “This tribe is the most advanced for the time they live in. By blending high-tech and low-tech in this story, Silverberg is able to relate a society millions of years old to something recognizable today” (Weger). I appreciated that she commented on how combining High Tech and Low Tech makes the scenario more relatable to the reader. Out of all the essays I looked at, Weger had the most interesting use of literary elements. She breaks down William Gibson’s Hinterlands by commenting on how he “uses metaphor to explain high-tech scenes with low-tech feelings” (Weger) and creates her own allegory at the beginning of her paper. She compares the use of digital tools to accomplish something tangible in the real world, such as gardening, to the intermingling of High and Low Tech in Science Fiction Literature. This was an excellent example of bringing in world experience to enhance an essay.
I found another excellent essay in Melissa Holesovsky’s 2015 essay, Tech Teams: High and Low. The draw of this particular paper was the admirable cohesiveness, and the exploration of how High and Low Tech appeal to the reader in different ways. This quote from her conclusion I thought was particularly strong, and I thought provided a different perspective on the benefits of combining the two scenarios, “While there are narratives of strictly high tech or low tech appeal, combining the two creates a dynamic duo and encourages wider reading removing the narrative from sub-genre isolation.” (Holesovsky). By combining the High and Low Tech scenarios the author opens their story up to a whole new audience, who may have been put off had it strictly explored one scenario.
The final submission I mined for ideas was Last Traces of Humanity by Abel Hernandez in 2016. I don’t know that I necessary agree with his cynical view on humanity expressed in the conclusion, “Humans are becoming less human as the years come and go” (Hernandez), but I did agree that the level technology has taken over our lives is a little alarming. When was the last time you saw people out to eat and they didn’t check their phones? I also found useful his analysis of motifs and symbols evident in the texts he wrote about. For Drapes and Folds he commented “fabric as a symbol for human identity” (Hernandez), and in The Onion and I he claimed the onions as a “motif that connects people back to nature” (Hernandez). One thing I noticed in all of the motifs he brings up are that they all symbolic of a return to Low Tech ways, which reminded me of Weger’s views on the blending of High and Low Tech explored earlier.I think it’s safe to say I’m not alone in my belief High Tech and Low Tech are like the yin and yang of Science Fiction. While all four submission I looked at had a different theme and focus, they all agreed that the texts were much more compelling when the scenarios are intertwined somehow. I enjoy these web highlights. I think it promotes the sharing of ideas and benefit of learning from your peers in a much deeper way than an in-class discussion. In this way, it makes the class much larger and diverse than it ever could be in person and connects us with the students of the past.