Remember: the assignment isn’t about how you felt when you read the story nor whether the events could happen in the real world; rather, it is an essay that presents an argument about the fiction and then provides literary analysis to prove your argument.
ESSAY TOPICS: Choose ONE of the topics below for your paper. Use TWO or THREE course readings studied in this course for your topic :
1) Examine how character change/development is a direct reflection of the social/political issue(s) an author wishes to explore in the story. Note: do not simply catalogue the changes of a character; rather, demonstrate how the characters’ central struggles are the vehicle for the author’s specific commentary or social questioning.
2) Theodore Sturgeon writes, “a science fiction story is a story built around human beings, with a human problem and a human solution, which would not have happened at all without its scientific content.” Based on this definition, what are the human problems explored in science fiction narratives? Ensure you draw on specific narrative details that explicitly prove the point(s) you are making.
3) Even though science fiction is not about predicting the future, it often dreams about it; however, dreams can quickly turn into nightmares. As a result, science fiction may, according to Ray Bradbury, be about preventing the future. Does science fiction offer dreams or nightmares in its imaginative visions? Do the dreams become nightmares? Can dreams be found amidst nightmares? Can any conclusions be made regarding these dreams/nightmares? (you need not address all these questions in formulating your thesis/argument)
4) Science fiction often features encounters with the alien, whether that alien is another lifeform, another planet, or another social environment. Yet, the alien is rarely truly alien; rather, it typically functions as a metaphor for the human. How do sf authors use the alien to provide commentary on humanity?
1. The Time Machine ( H. G. Wells)
2. “The Conquest of Gola” (Leslie F. Stone)
3. “Desertion” (Clifford Simak)
4. Childhood’s End (Arthur C. Clarke)
5. “The Cage of Sand” (J. G. Ballard)
6. “Super Toys Last All Summer Long” (Brian Aldiss)
7. “When It Changed”
8. “Burning Chrome” (William Gibson)
9. “Pretty Boy Crossover” (Pat Cadigan)
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