Science Fiction Studies
Description:Science Fiction Studies is a refereed scholarly journal devoted to the study of the genre of science fiction, broadly defined. It publishes articles about science fiction and book reviews on science fiction criticism; it does not publish fiction. SFS is widely considered to be the premier academic journal in its field, with strong theoretical, historical, and international coverage. Roughly one-third of its issues to date have been special issues, with recent topics including Technoculture and Science Fiction, Afrofuturism, Latin American Science Fiction, and Animal Studies and Science Fiction. Founded in 1973, SFS is based at DePauw University and appears three times per year in March, July, and November.
Coverage: 1973-2018 (Vol. 1, No. 1 - Vol. 45, No. 1)
The "moving wall" represents the time period between the last issue available in JSTOR and the most recently published issue of a journal. Moving walls are generally represented in years. In rare instances, a publisher has elected to have a "zero" moving wall, so their current issues are available in JSTOR shortly after publication.
Note: In calculating the moving wall, the current year is not counted.
For example, if the current year is 2008 and a journal has a 5 year moving wall, articles from the year 2002 are available.
- Terms Related to the Moving Wall
- Fixed walls: Journals with no new volumes being added to the archive.
- Absorbed: Journals that are combined with another title.
- Complete: Journals that are no longer published or that have been combined with another title.
Subjects: Humanities, Language & Literature
Collections: Arts & Sciences V Collection
Essay 2 Prompts
The prompts below are points of departure for thinking about your second essay. You shouldn’t feel compelled to answer all of the subquestions posed in them. The prompts don’t provide a thesis or well-organized evidence, but you should be sure your essay has both of those. Some of the prompts could tempt you toward vast generalizations, but you should be very sure that you pay attention to the details of the texts themselves.
I’m open to the possibility of topics not directly related to the prompts below, but if you go that route, we should talk before you begin your essay.
The paper should be 6-7 pages and is due by 4pm, Friday April 18, in the box in Axinn.
1) In the 1976 version of “Is Gender Necessary,” Ursula Le Guin insisted “that the real subject of The Left Hand of Darkness is not feminism or sex or gender or anything of the sort; as far as I can see, it is a book about betrayal and fidelity” (157). In 1988, she moderated this position in the marginal notes to the same essay, saying instead that “there are other aspects to the book, which are involved with its sex/gender aspects quite inextricably” (157). Discuss one crucial aspect of Left Hand that is not strictly about “feminism or sex or gender” but is “inextricably tied” to the sex/gender system portrayed in it. You might think, for example, about the way technology, modes of political governance, landscapes and the perception of them, or something else is tied to or produced by the unique sex/gender system on Gethen.
You’ll find the whole of Le Guin’s “Is Gender Necessary” on eres. It’s about 10 pages long.
2) Given the stories and novels we have read, what would you say are the one or two most important distinctions between the “new wave” SF writers of the 60s and 70s and the “golden age” writers of the 40s and 50s? You won’t be able to be cover a wide-range of differences or stories in a short essay, but you should be able to focus on a few particulars in a small number of readings. For example, you could consider it most important that the stories tend to have very different ways of organizing narrative and present very different sorts of narrators; or you could suggest that stories from the periods in question have fundamentally different visions about the place of technology in a social order. The difficulty will be to say something specific about particular texts and a particular point with particular evidence to support it. Avoid vast overviews and generalizations.
3) Science Fiction often spends as much time thinking about future religions and other modes of human belief as it does about human technology. The Left Hand of Darkness and The Parable of the Sower both construct new/alternative faiths. “Houston, Houston” also thinks at some length about Christianity and future alternatives to it. How does faith function in one of these fictions? Is it an antidote to science/technology? Is it an alternative system of knowledge that exists beside more empirical forms of it? Is faith displaced or destroyed by science/technology? Perhaps science and technology themselves take on religious aspects in the text that interests you? You’ll probably do best to think about only one novel and its treatment of faith, religion, and divinity.
4) Almost all of the works we’ve read in recent weeks have significant dystopian elements. While all dystopias are broadly unpleasant, each of them imagines the dystopian in different ways. Look at two particular texts and explain what is dystopic about them. What leads to the creation of a dystopic world? What is the reader supposed to think is dystopic about it? Is the dystopia you see absolutely total, or does it allow for (or even foster) utopian (or at least desirable) possibilities? Do all figures in the story see the conditions in it as dystopic? What do these imaginings of alternative social worlds suggest about collective fears or hopes in the later part of the twentieth century (and beyond)?
Below you’ll find some topics for the paper due a week from Friday. These are prompts designed to help you start thinking about the essay. You won’t find in the topics a structured argument, a series of well-organized paragraphs with topic sentences, or a thesis to argue. Be sure those appear in your essay. The paper should be 5-6 pages long. The papers should be submitted to the course box in Axinn by 4:00 pm on March 7.
Middlebury has an honor code. Your work should be done in a manner consistent with that.
1) How does Kelvin change over the course of Solaris? What kind of figure is he at the start of the novel and what kind of figure at the end? How does Lem convey this change? Are there crucial moments in the text around which Kelvin’s view of the world shifts? Be sure that you cite specific text, images, words that convey his evolution (or lack of it).
2) “The Roads Must Roll,” “Microcosmic God,” and Orson Welles’s version of The War of the Worlds link together control of scientific or technical knowledge to political, military, and/or financial power. All three stories also appear within a few years of each other, in the late 30s and early 40s. Do these texts and the creators of them embrace the links between technology and political power? Do they see this linkage as a social problem? In these fictions, what sort of relationship does technology foster between the “masses” and the “elite”? Concentrate on only one, or, if you want to make comparisons, two texts. All three will be too many.
3) How do Science Fiction texts make their “science” believable? Do all texts pursue this goal with the same commitment? What are the consequences of focusing on plausibility on the one hand and of more nearly abandoning it on the other? To answer this question meaningfully, you’ll have to be very specific about a) the strategies for creating plausibility b) examples of where you see these strategies deployed c) explaining why authors would or would not want to bother with seeming “realistic.” To me, this is the hardest of the three topics.
4) What are the defining and most important features of something “alien” and something “human” in Solaris? In Alien? In “The Parasite Planet”? In what ways do the interactions between “humans” and “aliens” in these fictions help to define or blur the distinctions between them? To begin thinking about this question you might ask yourself, for example, if Rheya is or isn’t “alien” in Solaris? Is it possible that the first “human” Rheya is “alien” to Kelvin in crucial ways? What about Ash in Alien? Are there ways in which Ripley herself is “alien”?