Depiction of Alien in Science Fiction


EAC234: Science Fiction

Major Paper

(Value: 20%)

General Instructions

You are to write a major paper/essay – thesis/critical argument; critical analysis; details; quotes; etc. — of 1000-1200 words on one of the topics below. Grading of the paper will be based on scope, depth, critical thinking skills, and grammatical accuracy; consult the rubric for more details.

Your major paper should be written in the 3rd person, so be sure to avoid any 1st person subjective experiences. Remember: the assignment isn’t about how you felt when you read the material nor whether the events could happen in the real world; rather, it is an essay that presents an argument about the fictions and then provides literary analysis, research, quotes, etc. to prove the argument.

Each essay topic requires you to use at least two stories for each essay topic, but be advised of the following conditions:

  1. While you can use any of the movies we have studied in the course, they will not count towards the two stories minimum for this assignment.
  1. One of the stories must be from the stories we have studied in this course. They include: “The Star” (Wells); “Out of All Them Bright Stars” (Kress); “When It Changed” (Russ); “Desertion” (Simak); “Think Like a Dinosaur” (Kelly); “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side” (Tiptree, Jr.); “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (Dick); “Burning Chrome” (Gibson); “Pretty Boy Crossover” (Cadigan); “Reason” (Asimov); “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” (Aldiss); “Closer” (Egan); and, “All You Zombies” (Heinlein)
  1. The stories you use to answer your essay topic must include at least one of the following supplemental stories (available in your Wesleyan Anthology):

“The Sentinel” (Arthur C. Clarke)

“Rogue Farm” (Charles Stross)

“Fondly Fahrenheit” (Alfred Bester)

“Abominable” (Carol Emshwiller)

“Exhalation” (Ted Chiang)

“The Machine Stops” (E. M. Forster)

“Everywhere” (Geoff Ryman)

Essay Topics

Choose one of the topics below for your paper. You must use at least two stories for each essay topic and one of those two stories must be one of the supplemental stories I’ve listed above.

Your completed assignment should meet all the requirements described after the essay topics.

  1. Advance an argument about how character change/development is a direct reflection of the social/political issue(s) an author wishes to explore in science fiction (sf). Note: do not simply catalogue the changes of a character; rather, demonstrate how the characters’ central struggles are the vehicle for the sf author’s specific political point, social commentary, or social questioning.
  1. Science fiction (sf) often features encounters with the alien, whether that alien is another life form, another planet, or another social environment. Yet, the alien is rarely truly alien; rather, it typically functions as a metaphor for the human. Advance an argument about how sf uses the alien as a metaphor to provide commentaries on issues relevant to humanity and, by extension, readers?
  2. In science fiction (sf), characters sometimes have to have their beliefs challenged – even pushed to the limit, even broken – before they come to a broader realization of some truth, a realization that serves to convey a specific theme of the story. Advance an argument regarding the relationship between a character undergoing this type of difficult awakening and broader themes being explored in sf.
  3. Science fiction (sf) often depicts a variety of social positions for social classes and a person’s social position is an important part of his/her acceptance by society. A character’s social position and the challenges that arise (how they and/or others respond to it, react to it, etc.) can also address themes of a story. Advance an argument regarding the relationship between a character’s social position and broader themes being addressed in sf. Make sure you use at least two stories and one of those two stories must be one of the supplemental stories I’ve listed above.
  4. Violence can be emotional and internalized as much as it is physical and externalized; in other words, abuse can take place on the physical body as well as in the mind or psyche of the victim. Advance an argument about the use of violence in science fiction (sf) and how such violence allows authors to explore broader themes in their stories.
  5. Science fiction (sf) can often reveal the darker side of what it means to be human as it often addresses the secrets we want to keep hidden – our secret desires; our secret fears; our secret selves. Advance an argument about what is revealed when we explore the darker sides of ourselves (and our selves) and what truths we might learn by taking a walk on the dark side.

Instructions and Submission Requirements

Quotations ·                   You must use direct primary quotes from the novels/stories to provide evidence for your paper. Essays that have no quotes from primary sources will not earn a passing grade.


·                   You must conduct academic research from secondary sources and incorporate relevant secondary quotes from research resources that directly pertain to the arguments you are advancing in your essay. You must use a minimum of two reputable research resources relevant to science fiction studies; therefore, you need to carefully screen the research available as your grade will be affected by the quality of the research and how you are using and integrating the content. The Seneca library has a host of research resources available to you through a variety of subscription-based services, so they are highly recommended as opposed to doing a quick search on Google.   You might want to check the Online Links folder in Blackboard, notably Google Scholar, Refseek, or any of the other sources I’ve provided (or links to sources available through the library), to help you in your research. Remember: your mark will be affected by the quality of the research resources, so don’t underestimate the value of carefully researching the authority of the research resource you want to use.
MLA ·                   All quoting and paraphrasing of primary and secondary resources must be properly referenced using MLA in-text/parenthetical citations.

·                   An accompanying MLA Works Cited page referencing the novels/stories must be included.

·                   If you are unfamiliar with MLA style for both referencing and constructing a Works Cited page, you need to look at The MLA Handbook (available in most libraries), or consult the online resources:

Seneca Online Library mla_guide.html

·                   Using a style other than MLA (e.g., APA) will result in severe penalties in terms of the grading.

Format: ·                   Word length: 1000-1200 words

·                   Word processed, double spaced, and composed in proper sentences and paragraphs.

·                   Set the alignment in your word processing program for left-hand margin only.

·                   Margins: 1” (2.5 centimetres) for top, bottom, left, and right.

·                   Title page: must include: name of the assignment your name, student number, submission date, word count.

Format ·                   Rich Text Format (.rtf) or Microsoft Word (.doc; .docx) are proper formats. Files that I cannot open will not be marked. Do not send files in PDF.
Late Penalty ·                   I typically do not accept late papers. If you have not submitted the assignment by its respective due date it will not be accepted for grading unless there are extenuating circumstances, but then there will be penalties. Please review the instructions carefully so you can take advantage of the flexibility afforded to you in this assignment.
Due Dates ·                   There are two due dates for submitting the essay. Each has its own rewards and consequence:

Option #1: if you submit the paper by 11:59:59 PM on March 31st you will receive commentary on the graded paper.

Option #2: if you submit the paper by 11:59:59 PM on April 7th you will likely not receive any commentary on the graded paper.

Note: don’t confuse these dates. If you submit your paper for option #1, that does not mean you will get the paper back and be given the chance to make changes and then re- submit for option #2. You submit the paper once, but your choice as to the two due dates is entirely in your hands.

Back-up Option: If you are worried your assignment wasn’t sent properly through SafeAssign, you can opt to send the identical assignment as a File Attachment to the “Assignment Back-Up” folder set up in Blackboard; however, be advised this is purely a back-up option and papers not submitted via the Blackboard system as the primary method of delivery will not be graded accordingly.

IMPORTANT: I will not accept papers that are not submitted correctly via Blackboard, so it is in your best interest to use the back-up as a fail-safe to ensure there have been no errors on your end attaching and sending the assignment file accordingly. I will post a listing of successfully submitted papers the day after the respective due dates, so it is your responsibility to promptly check that list.