Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale, Continuum and mom

The release of the latest Hunger Games film,Mockingjay part 1, somehow brings memories of my mother up. She was an avid and often frustrated user of the VCR with which she recorded ‘her programs’ while she was away, so that she could leisurely view them when she was once again home.

In an aside, I hasten to mention that while not a teenager or female, and certainly not in the younger cohort, LSW became quite involved in the three Hunger Games books, to the point of automatically placing ‘everything’ in the framework created by Suzanne Collins. Of duty, I mention that the first two HG films have been seen by LSW, but as usual with film translations of novels, the films while mildly entertaining don’t hold the proverbial candle to the books.

I often find myself telling both of my parents about how things have changed since their departure. Things here meaning  ‘advances’ in communications technology.

While streaming something like *Continuum’ on HBO I will sometimes try to explain to my mother what I am engaged in. Such an explanation would require an explanation of the Internet, a bit of computer history, the notion of streaming, the notion of on demand viewing etc.

I wonder how much someone from the 80s would understand any of this. At least in the face of a sudden introduction.

How would one of us comprehend the technologies of what will be de facto in the year 2050?

Once the baseball season ended, and with it, baseball games that I hear on my iPod touch while unfortunately wide awake in the middle of the night, I cast about for something to listen to in those dead and dark hours during which one’s thoughts can drive one to distraction. I used to listen to the BBC World Service news but that can either be very absorbing or frightening or both and thus not conducive to sleep.

So I bought an audiobook that I can play on my wireless device. The choice settled on Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. Atwood is an author I have long shortlisted but never got to in the wake of Doris Lessing’s ‘Shikasta’ space fiction and Mara and Dann books, as well as an earlier fascination with Ursula Le Guin’s writings from the period around ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ and ‘The Dispossessed’. (Looking her up on the net I see that I need to reread her and that she has remained much more active than I realized. Interesting Salon interview including spot on thoughts about Amazon.

Not sure how I would explain my experience of The Handmaid’s Tale to my parents, who were both avid readers. The notion of an ebook reader to which one can download a book, and not just one but many books, would perhpas be difficult to comprehend. Mine,which I use because of problems seeing small print, (despite my aversion to certain company’s maniacal actions) would entail an increased sense of the possible, beyond that which existed back in their day.

But I don’t read Atwood’s book but listen to it on a wireless device, in the middle of the night. Claire Danes reads the book and does an exquisite job. This narration must have cost her a lot of time and work. She puts an aural face on the narrator and the sphere of the setting.

I started listening of course to the first chapter and fell asleep somewhere in to the second chapter, night after night. Whereupon I would and still awake somewhere deep into the book, different places every night. The next night I usually choose the the third or fourth chapter to fall asleep in and wake up again somewhere far into the book.

How could I explain all this to my parents? Or to Ms. Atwood who I doubt has heard of one of her works being experienced in quite this fashion?

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