Paper #4/Final Exam: Brave New Worlds

“I notice that capable men are still at a premium in our society; we still need the man who is intelligent enough to think of the proper questions to ask. Perhaps if we could find enough of such, these dislocations you worry about…wouldn’t occur” (“The Evitable Conflict,” 265).

INTRO: We already live in an age of science fiction: an age where we can watch a live video feed from Mars, as well as track asteroids as they sail past Earth. We also live in a world of global warming, virtual reality, artificial technology, and self-driving cars. What’s next? Or perhaps the better question to ask is: how is the future being shaped in the news today? What happened in yesterday’s news feed which will affect how you raise your kids tomorrow?

REPONSE: I want you to find an article on-line, or from a journal, or in a magazine (Best American Magazine Writing 2015, for those who took Comp 1 with me, perhaps) which discusses some important contemporary issue. It can be about anything, as long as it’s current and of national importance. Print this article out and include it with your paper (and be sure to read it carefully!). Then I want you to write a short science fiction story (maybe 3-4 pages double spaced) that takes this article into the “future.” Take the same issues, problems, and concerns and place them in a new setting—a future Earth, or another planet, or among aliens, or robots, or on a starship. If science fiction is a metaphor for our own world, help us see the problems and debates of this issue in a different time and place. Remember, it’s often hard to see why we should care about something in our own time: but if you can fool us into seeing it in a different context, we might finally understand why our 21st century problems matter.

FOR EXAMPLE: The Star Trek episode we watched in class, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield” (1969), was released during the Civil Rights Movement, at a time when you couldn’t really discuss race or equal rights on a television show...but you could talk about aliens with the same issues. At the end of this episode, with their planet in flames and their hatred intact, Lt. Uhuru asks, “do you suppose that’s all they ever had, sir?” And Captain Kirk responds, “No...but that’s all they have left.” A fitting epilogue for a country that was tearing itself apart over age-old prejudices when they might have united in brotherhood.

DUE: Thursday, May 4th by 5pm in my box or office