HUMA 1905: Science Fiction Culture
Essay 2: Creative/Comparative Essay
In this essay, we want you to analyse, compare, and contrast the fictional social worlds presented in any TWO of the following works; we recommend you choose at least one book in order to have enough material to work with:
Utopia, Looking Backward, News from Nowhere, “The Machine Stops,” We, Brave New World, “The Cold Equations,” and “Robbie”
You must assume ONE specific persona—writing in a voice other than your own, seeing the world through another’s eyes—discussing the two chosen texts. You must present an argument or thesis, and write from a consistent point of view. Evaluate, compare, and contrast the two worlds from your persona’s standpoint. Please note that you are not an actual character from any of these texts. Clearly articulate “your” particular views on social issues through your analyses of the two texts. You may treat the societies as real places you have visited or read about, or compare the texts as works of fiction, discussing how the societies are conveyed through character, plot, dialogue, and description.
Here are some of the many questions you may consider in writing your essay: What are the key societal features, ideas, and themes in the two texts you have chosen? What is noteworthy about the two worlds’ political structures, gender relations, moral frameworks, or common biases and beliefs? What differences and similarities do you see in their respective social systems, assumptions, and values? Would you want to live in either of these worlds? Why or why not? What makes for a utopian — or dystopian — society? How would you generally characterise and critique the societies depicted in your texts? What are their respective understandings of nature and human nature? How are scientists and the technological-scientific enterprise itself portrayed? This is an exercise in comparative analysis, the presentation of a thesis with supporting evidence, and creative writing and interpretation. Use your imagination, as well as your intellect.
Here are your choices of personae: you will be either (1) an archaeologist who believes that past civilizations all fell because human beings are inherently irrational and self-destructive; or (2) a feminist struggling to eliminate discrimination based on gender; or (3) a robot with intelligence and perhaps emotions; or (4) a scientist who is convinced that technological progress will solve humanity’s problems and lead to a more just society; or (5) an environmentalist who believes we must return to more natural ways at any cost before it is too late.
Please type and double-space your papers, providing adequate margins on all sides. Provide a title page with the course name and number, the title and due date of the assignment, along with your name and the name of your tutor. Clearly declare your thesis in the first paragraph. Number your pages, and staple them together. Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation (although judicious, creative rule-breaking may be acceptable for reasons of style, and depending on your persona; consult your tutor!). Supply complete bibliographic references for the two chosen texts at the end of your essay. Support your opinions with examples and illustrations. References to and quotations from the works should be identified in parentheses in the body of your essay, e.g. (Zamyatin 99) or (Asimov 15-16). Proofread your last draft before handing it in. Even though secondary sources are NOT to be used, we WILL be alert for signs of plagiarism. Therefore, please remember the lessons of your online academic integrity tutorial.