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Monday, August 6, 2012

Best Christmas Ever by James Patrick Kelly -- Reader’s Guide

Sci Fiction 2004

Albert Paul Hopkins, the last man in the world, experiences what Aunty Em, his biological robot wants to be the best Christmas ever. All he wants for Christmas is a Glock 17.

Questions: If Aunty Em is Albert’s robot, who probably name it? What famous book and movie is it from? What did the protagonist in that book want with Aunty Em (or what was she a symbol of)? If Aunty Em is that symbol for Albert, does he have that with her? Explain.

How is his smell described? Look it up in the dictionary. What else does it describe?

How does Aunty Em behave toward Albert? What kinds of movies does she want him to watch? How does he respond?

What are biops? How does the text let you know?

Other names are important. Some of the biops are pals. How well does Albert know them? How well does Albert’s attitude toward any creature match what it’s supposed to be?

When Aunty Em cooks, what does she use? How does that mirror her ability to reach Albert?

Why does Albert want to know the date (what were they talking about earlier)? What would it tell him if he knew it? Why doesn’t Aunty Em simply tell Albert the date?

How does this passage fit into the story: “hemlock sprouted from the ruins of the town”?

Most of the biops behave in as helpful, servant-like manner possible. What about Kathy? How is her behavior similar yet different?

When Aunty Em thinks Albert’s catching the Christmas spirit, is he? What tells you that?

How does Ellen behave? How might her behavior affect Albert? Why do his eyes go misty? Can it be for more than one person?

Albert is sometimes described as “the man”? Why? How might that affect relationships even if it’s never spoken?

Why is Aunty Em’s reaction to Spicy Adventure Stories hollow?

When Albert receives the Glock, what is his reaction? Why, then, does he want it? Check his dialogue.

How does Aunty Em see this Christmas? Do you agree? Explain.

Have you met anyone like Aunty Em, Kathy and Albert? Do they have real life counterparts? How do you feel toward them? Which makes Albert more human or humane?

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