Defying Doomsday Read-Along: Discussion Part 3 (Stories 9-12)

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 in Books | 0 comments

Defying Doomsday Read-Along: Discussion Part 3 (Stories 9-12)

We’re Back With Part 3!

After a fun halfway-point activity last week, we’re back for the next set of stories. If you’re new to the read-along, you can check out the starting post here. In a nutshell, we read about four stories a week, with questions posting on Thursdays. Feel free to jump in and join the read-along at any point. You can answer the questions in the comments, or answer on your own blog and share a link below. You can also tweet as you read using #readDefyingDoomsday.

For next week, we’ll be reading the final stories in the anthology, 13-15 (“Spider-Silk, Strong As Steel” through “I Will Remember You”).

Below are this week’s discussion questions. As usual, I’ve given a one line reminder of sorts for each story before the question. And again, while some of these questions are more reflective and thoughtful, I also wanted some to be just plain fun. Here we go!

Discussion Questions: Stories 9-12

1. “Five Thousand Squares,” is a story about two women who have developed their own contingency plan in case of disaster, given government insistence that disaster planning is no longer necessary. How seriously do you think short-sighted political decisions will influence your own future (wherever you live)? What sort of apocalypse can you envision?

2. “Portobello Blind” features a blind young woman who learns to get along just fine as the only survivor on her father’s island research station. Toward the end of the story, Anna sets up a research project to give herself purpose. How important is having a purpose to you? What kind of project would you set up if you were on the island?

3. In “Tea Party,” Tally goes shopping with the Count, and must consider shifting roles when they bring Mary back to the ward with them. At one point, Tally says, “I spent a lot of time having trouble being responsible for me … But it turns out it’s easier being responsible for other people.” Do you agree?

4. “Giant,” chronicles the meeting of a young woman born on a space station and her father, plus aliens. Both this and the last two stories touch on a theme of the resilience and competence of disabled individuals who are often seen as incapable of independence by others. What are your thoughts on this?

Intisar’s Answers

1. I feel like we’re in a new era of short-sighted political decision-making that’s all about corporate profit and political survival. And it’s coming right when we most need to be focusing on, say, the environment and rational approaches to debunking the Clash of Civilizations theory (because, seriously, it’s about as small-minded as going to war over choosing different forms of governance a la the Cold War… folks, as long as we’re all looking out for human rights, can we be okay with people thinking a little differently from each other? Or must we insist on and work toward a future where we’re all fighting each other just because we love self-fulfilling prophecies so much?) Gah!

2. Purpose is really important to me, but I would probably choose a different project from Anna. Something around growing food, because the weather will change eventually. Also, I’d test out different natural substances to use as bait, since eventually I’d run out of moldy bread for the fish. So yeah, I think I’d be a lot more obsessed with a diverse food (and water) supply than Anna. I wonder what that says about me?

3. Having young children, I totally agree with this. I do a fantastic job being responsible for them (if I say so myself), but still can’t manage to exercise regularly, am adept at accidentally skip meals, and regularly don’t get enough sleep. My kids are active, well-rested, and generally well-fed (except when they’re being picky). I should maybe follow their example before they start following mine….

4. I’m not surprised that this theme has surfaced so regularly among the stories in this anthology–social norming and rampant stereotypes tells us that people who aren’t capable of everything (able-bodied, mentally healthy) “normal” people are need help. Sometimes, the best help we can give is to back off, listen, and be grateful for a seat at the table (as Mary is, quite literally). Not that Mary doesn’t offer help and it isn’t appreciated, but she also doesn’t attempt to take charge or condescend to Tally and the others, who have clearly been doing better than she has. So I loved that this came through in such different ways in this trio of stories.

Next week is our last discussion post! Woohoo! This has been super fun, and I really appreciate everyone’s participation. I know January has been a tough month for many of us, and I’ve been really glad to have this to brighten up my week. I hope it’s been good for you too!

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