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Friday, August 3, 2012

Barry Westphall Crashes the Singularity by James Patrick Kelly -- Reader’s Guide

Infinite Matrix

When you want to excite students about science, sometimes it’s fun to pull out the strange if less certain futures that might be out there, such as the Singularity. If your student likes the odd, the strangeness of the presentation and subject matter in this story should bloom like a wild flower in the student’s mind.

Summary: Barry Westphall visits different times of his own life, but it turns out he’s in the future, his mind compartmentalized to keep each memory as real as possible although a certain unreality glazes the background.


What does coffee do? Alcohol? What does it mean that this character drinks both at the same time?

What is the key feature of an armadillo? What does that do and how does that play into what the character is trying to do with his life? Is he successful?

Why mirrors the link between Barry’s selves?

Why the desert?

An empty glass with ice in it. Why is it empty? Is it empty if it has something in it?

Why is the knotty pine a “nightmare?” Or is it the pine, or the close 3rd person’s consciousness?

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