For Sale

By Kellie Purcill

For sale a wreck Or let’s just say that she’s a jumble of wonky wooden flooring (and a stubborn set of sails).   The price unlikely Or let’s say that she’s a deal of work along the staircase (that flirts and stubs your toe).   The choice difficult Or let’s say that she’s a handful …

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Go Into Space! Explore New Worlds! Ride Spaceships! Meet Aliens! Shoot Them!

By Kellie Purcill

Science fiction does weird things to peoples’ faces. If you’re not on my side of the book shelf, chances are when you hear I love sci-fi your eyebrows try to hide in your hair line, your smile has cracked into a mosaic of pained surprise and you are trying to disengage from the conversation as quickly as humanly possible.

No, I don’t wear Star Trek uniforms. No Star Trek or Star Wars pyjamas either. No, I am not a teenage boy. No, I don’t want to meet your neighbour’s unemployed son who lives in their basement playing Halo “because he likes spaceships too.” I am a thirty-six year old, forklift driving, dessert loving, make-up wearing mother of two who adores science fiction – it’s my favourite genre.

I love science fiction because it takes big themes and ideas (like identity, race, friendship, family, responsibility and courage), strips all the familiar atmosphere away (like houses, and cute suburbs, the 21st century, gardens, denim jeans, shopping centres and Christmas parties – even oxygen) and says “Well, what would you do?” It then asks, “Why? And why do you think they are doing that over there/to us?” and demands a solution. Science fiction is all about change of thinking, living, circumstances, head-butting stereotypes and cultural expectations, and even shooting things that may or may not deserve it.

In John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War, the only way to get off Earth is to leave as a colonist (but only if you are from a poor third world nation) or – when you are 75 years old – by joining the Army. That’s right: the Army wants YOU… and your arthritis, your prostate cancer, your faded eyesight and other indignities of age. The only catch if you enlist: you won’t be coming back. Ever. We follow John up the beanstalk (literally), and through the upheavals, ethical pains and friends he makes along the way. It is one funny, brilliant and clever ride through the unknown universe, and will leave you wanting a BrainPal of your own.

Even in sci-fi, some things never change. Windows still get dirty, and still need to be cleaned. But what if you live in apartments 35 kilometres (21.7 miles ) above the earth?

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Beauty In The Age Of Plastics

By Leslie Graff

legsI didn’t have many Barbies growing up. The ones I did have were gifts from friends at birthday parties because my mother was never especially keen on Barbie’s exaggerated, oversexed proportions (part of my parents larger plan to do their darndest to teach me to fill my head more than my closet).   As a mother of all boys, (none of whom have recieved them as birthday gifts) I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve had much time with Barbie.  A few months ago, while chatting with a friend and picked up two of the Barbies, bereft of clothing, which had been strewn across the floor by her house full of daughters.  I eyed the two denuded Barbies.  One was traditional Barbie, the Barbie of my youth, and the second was Barbie plus… Barbie plus Dr. 90210 that is.

Pairing the two for closer inspection it was obvious Barbie plus had been nipped and augmented at every curve from her decidedly Brazilian derriere to her obviously silicone “amendments”. Her calves and ankles were skinnier,  her brows lifted.  Normal Barbie has always been freakishly disproportionate, but this doll had no resemblance to normal womanly features. No supple, subtle gracious curves like those of  the nude marble Greek sculptures I used to draw in my art musuem classes, simply an awkward conglomeration of classically fake “plastic surgery” features.  Don’t get me wrong plastic surgeons can do amazing things.  I have witnessed first hand over 1000 reconstructive plastics procedures on medical missions.  I’ve sat with a 17 year old boy as he looked in a mirror for the first time following a cleft lip repair and cried with relief because he said someone would marry him now. I’ve seen it at it’s height of  transformativeness and it excessive lows of shallow vanity. 

Over vacation, I watched an old Sinatra flick, Pal Joey, with my sister.  I stared at the curvaceous women, a stark reminder of where we’ve come in our lean idealization of the female form, no more glory for the Rubens-esque. My sister then commented on her recent observance of Linda Carter’s very womanly Wonder Woman physique.  Wow, my legs would’ve fit right in, I could’ve made it in a late 50’s nightclub or better yet as a lassoing superheroine.  Still today as a decidely confident woman, I feel some apologetic twinges of self consciousness as I peel down at the beach.

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