Monday, April 25, 2016

Paper #4: Science Fiction as Metaphor: Due May 5th!


For your fourth and final paper, I want you to take a creative leap: find an article in a newspaper (the ECU journal?), magazine, or on-line (but it MUST have an author) that discusses some important modern-day problem. It could be anything, but make sure the article clearly defines the problem and some of the issues affecting it (for example, the budget crisis in Oklahoma). You must include a copy of the article with your paper, since I want to read it alongside your paper.

THEN, I want you to write a short science-fiction story (or the beginning of a story) that takes the issue and re-imagines it in the future. How can we see the issues more clearly if we set it in 2066 (for example)? Or among a society of clones and robots? Or on Mars? As with all science fiction, the setting is a metaphor to help us relate to our own world and its problems. The problem you choose can be made worse, or can have completely gone away, or might have changed into something else entirely. Whatever you choose to do, make sure we can see why this is a problem today, and how changing the perspective can help us understand why it’s a problem and what we might consider doing about it...before it’s too late!

Look at some of the stories from The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015 to see how they did this. For example, “The Thing About Shapes to Come” discusses what we define as normal (particularly with autism) by creating shape children. Or “Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable” shows us the moral complications of cloning if it became a service like Ancestry.com. Use these stories as models and note how they cleverly take modern ideas and make them seem strange and futuristic to help us ‘see’ them clearly.

REQUIREMENTS
  • No page limit: As long as you think it needs to be
  • You must base it on the issue and ideas of an existing article. You are responding to this article, so don’t just write about some topic off the top of your head. Read first, then respond. Include the article with your paper.
  • Due by Thursday, May 5th by 5pm (hard copy only)  



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

For Thursday: Last Two Stories/Questions for Class! (see below)


For Thursday: Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015

Wilson, “The Blue Afternoon That Lasted Forever” (pp.202-211)
Rustad, “How to Become a Robot in 12 Easy Steps” (pp.314-329)

Answer two of the following:

Q1: Both stories are about people who are somewhat robotic/artificial in how they experience life. Why would someone not want to be human in how they think/feel/experience the world? If the most important thing for most of us is humanity, what else do they find meaningful in life?

Q2: In Wilson’s story, he remarks as the world is falling apart around him: “The world is made of change. People arrive and people leave. But my love for her is constant. It is a feeling that cannot be quantified because it is not a number. Love is a pattern in the chaos” (211). How do both stories come to some understanding about being imperfect in a world of logic and perfection?

Q3: In Rustad’s note about his story, he says, “It took years before I could understand, growing up, why I felt different and why it was (and is) so hard to interact in a world when your programming doesn’t match what everyone tells you it should be.” What is the “program” the main character doesn’t seem to have or understand in the story? What is normal for everyone else and not for her?

Q4: Both stories are also about trying to protect something helpless and innocent—a robot and a child. While we can understand the protagonist of Wilson’s story trying to save his daughter, why is Tesla trying to save the K-100? Why does she think she’s in love with it?














Thursday, April 7, 2016

For Thursday: Best American Science Fiction Writing 2015


For Thursday: Best American Science Fiction Writing 2015

Stories:      Russell, “The Bad Graft” (34-53)
                 Castro, “The Thing About Shapes to Come” (168-180)

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: On page 178, Castro writes, “For all of us, meaning arrives in installments. It might be actual and it might be wishful thinking. We can only report the facts and hope that they provide closure.” What do you think Monica learns about the shapes, or her own child, by the end of the story? What ‘closure’ does she receive as a mother?

Q2: In most science fiction stories, aliens are from other worlds, out to conquer the world or blow it into smithereens. How does “The Bad Graft” offer a twist on the typical alien invasion story? Why is it ‘invading’ in the first place?

Q3: In “The Bad Graft,” Russell writes, “One of the extraordinary adaptive powers of our species is its ability to transmute a stray encounter into a first chapter” (52). What do you think this means, and how does it relate to the qualities that make us human? How do these qualities ultimately defeat the plant (or do they)?

Q4: How might the story “The Thing About Shapes to Come” be a metaphor for what it means to be normal, and human, in our society? Though we don’t have to deal with triangles and trapezoids in our nurseries, what ‘shapes’ challenge our understanding of humanity in the 21st century?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

For Thursday: Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015

For Thursday, read the following two stories from our anthology:
* Walton, Sleeper (pp.124-133)
* Boyle, The Relive Box (pp.297-313)

There are no questions for these stories, though I will make you write about them in class on Thursday (so be sure to read both!). Something to think about is this line from "Sleeper": "We make our own history, both past and future" (133). If this is so, what might the danger be of trying to record or re-experience the past? Is there one past? And if we make the past able to be seen by everyone, will it be our past they see? Are there as many pasts as there are futures? Hmm...

Be sure to start thinking about Paper #3 (posted two posts down!). See you on Thursday. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

For Tuesday: Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy Writing 2015


Read these stories: Samatar, “How to Get Back to the Forest” (pp.1-13); Rambo, “Tortioseshell Cats are Not Refundable” (pp.24-33)

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: How does the title “How to Get Back to the Forest” relate to the story itself? Who is trying to “get back”? What is the “forest”? Is it a literal forest (where the camps are)? Or a metaphor?

Q2: Samatar writes “Forgetting isn’t so wrong. It’s a Life Skill” (6). What does she mean by this? How does forgetting relate to the story, and perhaps the purpose of the camps themselves?

Q3: In the story, “Tortoiseshell Cats are Not Refundable,” what do the scientists look for to rebuild a subject’s personality? While biology all comes from DNA, what makes the ‘inner workings’ come to life? Do you feel these details are accurate—or are they missing something?

Q4: What does the main character mean when he says, “No. Decide whether or not to begin” (33)? Since Mindy has already been cloned by this point, what decision is he allowing her to make?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Paper #3: Software Update--due Tuesday, April 12th


Paper #3: Software Update

“Decide whether or not to keep things as they were?”
“No. Decide whether or not to begin.”
--Cat Rambo, “Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable”

In The Stepford Wives and several of the stories we’ll be reading in The Best American Science Fiction 2015, the idea of altering human beings to make them longer-lasting, more desirable, more tame, and less individual is a common theme. What is the future of the human race in a world where anything can be changed, altered, or improved? Can a person who can be completely rebuilt and reprogrammed still be human? Or will he/she simply be Human 2.0? Is that the next logical step in human evolution, aided by science (and inspired by science fiction)? After all, once we take the first step (as Cat Rambo suggests above), there’s no going back…

Your Response: How much should we improve human beings? At what point do humans become androids, more machines than men and women?  
Should we simply give people the ability to overcome genetic diseases, heal faster, and learn more efficiently? Or should we go further, allowing people to clone their loved ones, weed out undesirable traits (and foster desirable ones), and ‘reprogram’ people with antisocial behaviors? OR, should we simply introduce a new species (robots) that can do all our dirty work, and become the happy, helpful wives, mothers, soldiers, and customer service workers we all need—but don’t want to be? Where should the line be drawn between improving our lives and re-writing our existence? ALSO, is it already too late…have we already crossed the line into a computer/virtual existence?

REQUIREMENTS
#1: Respond to some of the ideas about gender, behavior, society, ethics, and humanity in The Stepford Wives and the stories I assign from Best American Science Fiction Writing 2015. Choose the ideas that most interest you and you feel most impact our future as human beings in an increasingly synthetic world.

#2: Find 2-3 sources that can help you discuss this issue. These sources can be articles on robots, AI, virtual reality, cell phones, cloning, behavior-modification, etc. You can also use at least one film/show that discusses these science fiction issues.

#3: Be sure to incorporate quotes from both the stories and the articles/shows into your paper. Don’t forget to use MLA citation (or other); for questions on this, see https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/

DUE Tuesday, April 12th by 5pm



Wednesday, March 30, 2016

For Thursday: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival

REMEMBER, no class on Thursday: instead, you could go to the Scissortail Creative Writing Festival which starts at 9:30 and continues at 11:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 7:00. Here is the entire schedule for Thursday-Saturday, so you can find a time that suits you: http://ecuscissortail.blogspot.com/2016/01/2016-scissortail-schedule-of-readings.html

If you attend a session, answer ALL FOUR of the questions below for an extra credit bonus. This can take the form of missed responses, missed classes, or simply extra points on your final grade. The amount of responses or absences I forgive is based on how detailed/engaged your answers are. For example, if you respond to each question with a 1-2 sentence response and I can't really tell if you even attended a session, I might not be able to give you any credit. But if I can see that you put some thought into it and really responded to what you observed at the reading, I can excuse up to 3 absences or 3 missed responses. So take notes as you watch so you can answer these questions with thought and detail. You can bring these responses to class on Tuesday. 

THE QUESTIONS (answer all 4):

Q1: Which of the authors interested you the most and why? Why did you respond their poems and/or story and why might you read more from this author?

Q2: Which piece (if any) did you find difficult to follow or understand and why? Is is simply not your kind of material, or was it too vulgar, or depressing, or confusing? If you liked all the pieces you heard by each writer, answer this instead: how did each author's reading work together as a whole? Why did these 3 (or 4) writers work well together? Was there any common themes or ideas that seemed to link them together?

Q3: Discuss briefly how the authors presented their material: their reading style, introductions, gestures, and other details that helped you appreciate the stories/poems. In other words, how did the authors help you understand their work through their performance?

Q4: How did the audience react to these authors/works? Did certain works get more response than others--and if so, why? Did people laugh? Were they completely silent. Did people seem to 'get' these writers, or did some leave them scratching their heads? How could you tell? 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

For Thursday: Levin, The Stepford Wives, pp.50-100 (at least)


Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: On page 57, Bobbie confides her secret fears to Joanna, that the town is genetically altering (or poisoning) women to become buxom, brainwashed beauties. She cites an example of something similar occurring in El Paso, and worries the water supply may be tainted from nearby factories. Why might this be a very forward-thinking, and extremely relevant fear for Ira Levin to express in 1972? What does this suggest people (or sci-fi writers, at least) are already starting to worry about?

Q2: How do we know the events of the story (at least up to page 100) aren’t simply in Joanna’s head? Her husband doesn’t believe her, none of the women give her the time of day (even Bobbie looses interest), and her therapist simply says, “I can understand your not being happy in a town of highly home-oriented women...I wouldn’t be either” (93). Does Levin give us clues that support her fears—or does the book suggest that society itself could make a ‘modern’ woman go mad?

Q3: Despite the mystery/science fiction elements of the book, how does Levin explore the problems of modern marriages? What seems to drive Joanna and Walter apart (or other husbands and wives)? What about our modern American culture seems counterproductive to establishing a happy domestic life?

Q4: In a strange passage on page 91, Joanna talks to Bobbie’s son, Jonny, who admits that his mother has had a strange transformation. And yet, he adds, “She doesn’t shout any more, she makes hot breakfasts...I hope it lasts...but I bet it doesn’t.” How might this put an interesting spin on the epidemic of happy homemakers in Stepford? Why add the child’s perspective to Joanna’s fears?


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

For Thursday: Levin, The Stepford Wives, pp.1-50


Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: Even though this book seems quite normal and earthbound, what connections might it already have with a story like Never Let Me Go? How might this be a ‘science fiction’ work about our own world, only slightly changed to distort our perspective? Do you see any clues to the real story behind the town of Stepford?

Q2: Joanna calls the Stepford Wives “actresses in a commercial, pleased with detergent and floor wax, with cleansers, shampoos, and deodorants. Pretty actresses, big in the bosom, but small in talent, playing suburban housewives unconvincingly, too nicey-nice to be real” (42-43). How might this relate to our discussion on Tuesday about clothes being an “act of imagination, an invention of the self”?

Q3: How does Joanna seem to define herself as a woman? What will she do—and not do—as a wife and mother, and how does this shape her views of the men and women of Stepford? Do you feel she’s reading too much into the town? Is she projecting her own fears of identity onto her neighbors?

Q4: The Stepford Wives is surprisingly open about sex and the intimate lives between husbands and wives (and what women share about their husbands with other women). Why might this have been shocking in 1972, when the book was first published? Do you feel Ira Levin was trying to shock his readers—and is it still a little eye-opening today?


Monday, February 22, 2016

Paper #2 due March 3rd by 5pm (see below)


Paper #2: Samples in the Jar

“How could you do that, Braniac? What kind of monster would trap an entire civilization inside a sample jar? It’s the most grotesque thing I’ve ever seen…You took away what made them human and there’s never an excuse for that.” (Superman: Red Son)

In both Superman: Red Son and the movie Never Let Me Go (based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro) we see the past reshaped by a ‘future’ utopia. In one, Superman and Lex Luthor decide to protect people from themselves, ultimately placing them in a ‘sample jar’ that gradually dehumanizes them; and in the other, a special group of children is carefully raised (in another ‘jar’) to offer salvation for the rest of the world. Both works raise an important question about modern society: are we already closing the lid on ourselves in a utopia of our own making? And if so, who are the ‘supermen’ who decide what our ideal society should look like, and what people get to make the ultimate sacrifice so that the others can live?

Remember that science fiction is always a metaphor for ideas we can see in our own world: superheroes, clones, aliens, an alternate past—they’re not just predictions, but they help clarify what has already come to pass. So for your second paper, I want you to respond to the conversation: if 21st century America was a science-fiction novel, what are the issues or concerns that make humanity look like specimens in a sample jar? To answer this question, you must have a conversational primarily with Superman: Red Son and/or Never Let Me Go and use them to highlight something potentially dangerous or dehumanizing in our own society. How might Superman’s Russia or the halls of Halisham remind us of gray areas in our own quest for prosperity and happiness? Some ideas to consider are health care, education, the environment, politics, entertainment, security, the media, technology, etc. Try to be specific and choose one aspect to discuss in your paper (rather than skimming over three or four). Find sources that can help you discuss this issue and understand its ‘science fiction’ potential.

REQUIREMENTS
  • At least 4 pages, double spaced
  • Uses one or both of the books from class in your conversation (more than simply quoting one line of the book or film)
  • 2-3 secondary sources: articles, legitimate websites (not dictionary.com or Wikipedia or brainyquotes.com), or books
  • Quotes integrated into your paper using MLA (or other) format along with a Works Cited page.
  • DUE THURSDAY, MARCH 3rd by 5pm (note: this a class day later than the syllabus stated)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

For Tuesday: Millar, Superman: Red Son (Book Three: Red Son Setting)





Answer TWO of the following...

Q1: Once Luther takes control of the US, Lois fears that he has become just another Superman—and possibly an even more dangerous one. To which her sister responds, “very possibly, darling, but at least Lex Luthor is a demagogue who speaks English” (113). What do you think she means by this? How might this explain how people like Luther and Superman get elected in the first place?

Q2: Why does Superman resist so long using military force to subdue the US, even when it’s clearly going down the drain? What event finally shatters his resolve? Do you think this is where Superman becomes a true ‘villain,’ or has this happened long ago (or perhaps, does it never happen)?

Q3: How can a letter with a single sentence (which Luther gives to his wife as a last resort) destroy Superman when an entire army of Green Lanterns and Wonder Women couldn’t? Is Luther correct—or is he just playing on Superman’s fear and guilt?

Q4: Science fiction stories and even shows like The Twilight Zone love surprise endings which turn the entire story on its head. What is surprising, confusing, or aggravating about the ending of this book? How does it change how we read the events of the story, and/or what might it say about the nature of Luther’s “success”?


Friday, February 5, 2016

Comp 2 Conference Schedule for Next Week

NOTE: If you missed class on Thursday, be sure to e-mail me about one of the available times below. If you miss your conference, it's the equivalent of missing an entire week of class. CLICK below to see the entire schedule...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

For Thursday: Millar, Superman: Red Son (Books 1 and 2)


NOTE: Comics are tricky to read if you’re not used to them, mostly because they seem so busy with all the images surrounding the dialogue. The trick is to read slowly and re-read whenever possible. If you’re having trouble, look at all the images on a page first, then go back and read the words. Make sure to appreciate how the words and images work together, since each of them tell a slightly different story that comes together in the frames.

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: Why does Superman decide to become the Supreme Leader when he earlier refused it? What makes him change his mind? Would the “real” Superman make the same decision? Why or why not?

Q2: Science fiction loves to ask “what if” and Superman: Red Son asks the ultimate what if question: would ‘Red Superman’ be a universal hero and icon for humanity? Is heroism beyond politics, or does being a hero depend on which side he’s on? How does the book explore this question?

Q3: At one point in the comic, Pyotr tells Superman, “that’s easy to say when you’re streaking through the skies, Superman. Not so much fun when you’re down here working in the gutters like the rest of us” (33). In some ways, is this an anti-superhero comic? Is this partly why the Soviet Batman wages war against Superman and what he represents?

Q4: How does the book reinterpret the Cold War and US/Soviet rivalry through the war between Luthor and Superman? Why might changing history in this light help us appreciate what really happened, or help us see the invisible forces behind politics itself?


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Questions about MLA Citation?

If you have questions about citing a source, from a You Tube video to an on-line article, be sure to check this link: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/

This will take you to Purdue University's Online Writing Lab, which has a complete breakdown of every possible MLA citation issue you can think of. Use this if you get stuck so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Feel free to e-mail me with questions as well.

Remember the paper is due Tuesday by 5pm and we DO have class on Tuesday. It's an important class since we'll be signing up for conferences over Paper #1. See you then!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

For Tuesday: Weir, The Martian, Chs.16-22


Answer TWO of the following…

Q1: Why does China agree to help NASA rescue Watney? What compromise does this force China to make…and what compromise does NASA have to make in return? Do you feel this is ultimately a positive, cooperative enterprise, or does it leave either the US or China ahead?

Q2: Do you feel it was ethical of Mitch to leak the e-mail about the “Rich Purnell Manuever” to the crew of Ares 3? Is he acting in the crew’s best interests, knowing how they will react to this knowledge? Likewise, was NASA wrong in concealing it from the crew?

Q3: In a slightly related question to #2, do you agree with the crew’s decision to munity and pursue the Rich Purnell Manuever? Does a crew have a right to go against the expressed wishes of NASA simply to save a colleague or follow their own morals? Does this set a dangerous precedent for future astronauts/missions? 

Q4: Do you feel losing contact with NASA is a mixed blessing for Watney? Does being on his own ultimately save his life? Would NASA have come up with the same survival techniques, or would their bottom line get in the way of a happy ending?



Paper #1: To Boldly Go...




“The cost for my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother?...Part of it might be what I represent: progress, science, and the interplanetary future we’ve dreamed of for centuries. But really, they did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out...I had billions of people on my side” (Weir 368-369).

Context:          In the great Age of Exploration, when ships sailed into uncharted waters to discover new continents and cities of gold, few of the explorers ever made it back to tell of their journey. Ships sank, ran out of supplies, crews mutinied, while others simply vanished without a trace. Yet few countries questioned whether the cost of human life was worth the relentless drive to discover new lands and sources of wealth. Today, the story is different: it is entirely plausible that the entire world would ban together to save a single man, even at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Likewise, losing a single man, much less a crew of six, could end the space program altogether (as it almost did in 1986, with the Challenger explosion). Is this a realistic approach to exploring the Solar System? Can we still explore ‘brave new worlds’ without losing a single man/woman?

Response:      So for your First Paper, I want you to argue whether sending human beings to explore and possibly colonize Mars is worth the risk. Is NASA advanced enough—and ethical enough—to oversee such an operation? Is it ethical to send a small crew to their possible doom simply to advance our understanding of science and our footprint in the cosmos? How do Watney’s logs help us re-evaluate our mission in space, and if this science fiction story became reality, how would it change or challenge our priorities? You might also consider why Watney survived to tell his tale. Are there enough safeties in place to ensure that everyone has a reasonable chance of getting back alive? Do we trust the men and women behind the computer screens? Or does this story expose a dystopian future for the space program?

Requirements:
  • Quote from the book: this is your primary source, and I want you to use passages from the book to support your ideas or to argue against them. Watney’s logs are the basic voice you’re responding to in your conversation.
  • 2-3 Secondary Sources: I want you to find 2-3 sources that help you discuss this difficult question and/or help you see different sides of it. Your sources could be discussions about the book (but only one of these), articles about Mars exploration, articles from NASA’s website, articles/books about ethics or psychology relevant to the discussion, or anything about the realities of space travel. Find voices that add an important dimension to the conversation.
  • Cite all sources according to MLA Format (we’ll discuss this more in class) along with a Works Cited page
  • Page Requirement: ???
  •  Due Tuesday, February 2nd by 5pm


Thursday, January 14, 2016

For Thursday: Weir, The Martian, Chs. 9-15


NOTE: No class on Tuesday, since I unexpectedly have to be out of town. We'll meet back on Thursday, so more time to read and/or catch up with the reading! 

Answer TWO of the following questions, again in short paragraph each (a few sentences):

Q1: Despite being on the cutting edge of science (he’s on Mars, after all), how does survival often force Watney to use very low tech or even primitive methods? Why might it be difficult for a robot or a rover to duplicate these techniques?

Q2: Where else in these chapters do we realize that being the only person on a planet is not merely a matter of physical, but mental, survival? What does Watney need to stay sane and functional as a human being? How aware is NASA of these requirements?

Q3: Do you think Watney’s response to his sudden celebrity and the involvement of NASA in his day-to-day existence is realistic? If not, why do you think Weir portrayed him in this manner? But if so, does this say more about his personality as an astronaut, or his personality as someone who has been stranded on the most desolate place in human imagination? Try to focus on a specific scene in your response.

Q4: These chapters complicate the narrative of The Martian, going backwards to the entire Ares 3 mission, as well as reports from the various labs where the HAB was being fabricated. Why do we get these new perspectives in the story? How do they change what we see and/or how we experience it? Do they change the story substantially for you? 



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

For Thursday: Weir, The Martian, Chs.1-8


NOTE: Be sure to bookmark our course blog (which I’ll  use instead of Blackboard): ecucomp2.blogspot.com.  I’ll post all the reading response questions here, as well as paper assignments, and other announcements.

Answer TWO of the following questions in a short paragraph—at least a few sentences. Be specific and avoid the simple response of “yes, he’s doing that because of this.” There are a variety of responses for each question, and I’m more interested to read why you think your answer is right rather than what you think it is. Each set of questions is worth 2 points (out of 100), and they add up quickly; you can only get full points if you give a thoughtful, detailed response of at least a few sentences.

Q1: Discuss Watney’s narration style: what kind of storyteller is he? Even though he’s technically recording a log, and not writing a book, how does his style/personality affect what we learn and how the story is told? How is his narration unique and/or valuable for this kind of story?

Q2: In Weir’s article “How Science Made Me a Writer” (at the back of the book), he writes, “as I wrote, I bungled my way into a revelation: Science creates plot! As I worked out the intricacies of each problem and solution, little details I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed became critical problems Mark had to solve” (385). Where in the opening chapters does science create the plot of the book? In other words, how does actual scientific (or mathematic) fact create drama and conflict for Watney—and the reader?

Q3: Though this book is very plausible and based on realistic science, how might we consider this book as a metaphor (as we discussed in class)? How is the idea of a man stranded in space, without a single human being to help him, a very metaphorical use of science fiction?  What does it help us see or understand about ourselves—or our own society?

Q4: Weir worried that writing a story strictly from Watney’s point of view could potentially be quite boring. For this reason, he clearly decided to add another storyline on Earth, as NASA tries to engineer his rescue. However, what else does this storyline add to the novel? Why do we need, on some level, to see Watney’s story from the other side?


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Welcome to the Course!


Welcome to the official course site for Dr. Grasso's English 1213/Comp 2, focusing on the conversation of science fiction. Why read and write about sci-fi? Well, it seems that every other film, book, and TV show these days takes place in the future, on another world, with people who have either escaped an apocalypse or are expecting a new one. Perhaps this is because we’re still newly arrived in the 21st century, where anything can happen—if we don’t destroy ourselves first. So what can we, in the “real world,” learn from science fiction? To answer this, we will read and respond to numerous works in this genre to answer questions such as: how is science fiction a metaphor for our own fears and desires? How does looking into the future help us understand the present and the past? And who are the “aliens” and “robots” in our own world? The four papers and numerous writing responses in this class will help you see the reality behind science fiction, where the galaxy far, far away is always our own.

Make sure to get the following books as soon as possible, esp. since we're reading The Martian for Thursday's class: 

Weir, The Martian
Levin, The Stepford Wives
Millar, Superman: Red Son
ed. Joe Hill, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2015

We'll use this site instead of Blackboard, so bookmark this site and check back for assignments, handouts, and other announcements. See you next week!