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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 10:36 am 
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I read Jason Sanford's 'Paprika' twice, with a two-week interval between readings. It is difficult for me to summarise for two reasons. First, any attempt at that would use spoilers, second, because I think 'Paprika' is a sequence of ideas held together by the action, with the former interesting me more than the latter. As in several other works by Mr Sanford, memory and personal identity appear to be central topics. The story line supports these, and is a schema, not a comprehensible result of, say, a conversation. As I read this, the frequent temporal speed-ups yield the schema, as they separate important actions of the few characters.
'Paprika' centres around the slow deterioration of a city-like region, its long-lived humans protecting themselves against decay of several sorts, and beings they (I think) created to assist their survival. The beings are time angels, strange and capable of fluctuating between material and other physical substrates, often partially; they are conscious composites, if I understand the story. Paprika is a time angel somehow devoted to the human, Satoshi, a maker of memorabilia for his customers. These are slowly dying off, due to the general deterioration of their living conditions.
To maximally preserve all this, time angels trap aspects of the deceased humans' consciousnesses. Here 'Paprika' becomes enigmatically philosophical. It seems that memories and perhaps other human mental contents are essential to humanity, or are all there is to being human. Paprika has a 'duty' to help Satoshi and when he dies, by storing his relevant mental contents in a 'pocket universe,' whatever that is. This duty is somehow programmed into the 'essence' of all time angels, while leaving them a degree of free will, for what a time angel does depends on events in its surroundings. These aspects can conflict; this duality governs the action in Mr Sanford's story.
Now comes the problem that interests me the most. It seems, though I am not certain, that once 'in' an angel's pocket universe, all further unfolding of a saved mind ceases. Memories are frozen. So what uses do they serve? A frozen memory train cannot think about itself, as any reflection will extend the train, which by hypothesis is ruled out (if I understand all this!). Is this worth the effort of the time angels? Can two angels have different ideas and plans about this? If they can, there might well be a divergence between their programming and their ability to resist them. I think these are three main aspects of 'Paprika': programmed behaviour (duty?), revolt against that by free will, and memory as the essence of being human. If this is correct, the writer has combined several traditional philosophical issues in one fascinating schema, called a story. SF Strange indeed.


Last edited by george on Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:06 pm
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Location: Clacton-on-Sea
george wrote:
I read Jason Sanford's 'Paprika' twice, with a two-week interval between readings. It is difficult for me to summarise for two reasons. First, any attempt at that would use spoilers, second, because I think 'Paprika' is a sequence of ideas held together by the action, with the former interesting me more than the latter. As in several other works by Mr Sanford, memory and personal identity appear to be central topics. The story line supports these, and is a schema, not a comprehensible result of, say, a conversation. As I read this, the frequent temporal speed-ups yield the schemata, as they separate important actions of the few characters.
'Paprika' centres around the slow deterioration of a city-like region, its long-lived humans protecting themselves against decay of several sorts, and beings they (I think) created to assist their survival. The beings are time angels, strange and capable of fluctuating between material and other physical substrates, often partially; they are conscious composites, if I understand the story. Paprika is a time angel somehow devoted to the human, Satoshi, a maker of memorabilia for his customers. These are slowly dying off, due to the general deterioration of their living conditions.
To maximally preserve all this, time angels trap aspects of the deceased humans' consciousnesses. Here 'Paprika' becomes enigmatically philosophical. It seems that memories and perhaps other human mental contents are essential to humanity, or are all there is to being human. Paprika has a 'duty' to help Satoshi and when he dies, by storing his relevant mental contents in a 'pocket universe,' whatever that is. This duty is somehow programmed into the 'essence' of all time angels, while leaving them a degree of free will, for what a time angel does depends on events in its surroundings. These aspects can conflict; this duality governs the action in Mr Sanford's story.
Now comes the problem that interests me the most. It seems, though I am not certain, that once 'in' an angel's pocket universe, all further unfolding of a saved mind ceases. Memories are frozen. So what uses do they serve? A frozen memory train cannot think about itself, as any reflection will extend the train, which by hypothesis is ruled out (if I understand all this!). Is this worth the effort of the time angels? Can two angels have different ideas and plans about this? If they can, there might well be a divergence between their programming and their ability to resist them. I think these are three main aspects of 'Paprika': programmed behaviour (duty?), revolt against that by free will, and memory as the essence of being human. If this is correct, the writer has combined several traditional philosophical issues in one fascinating schema, called a story. SF Strange indeed.


Fascinating, thanks. Sheds new light on it.
My earlier review of the same story: http://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/201 ... mment-1575

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