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Exploring Science Fiction, Quarter 2

Welcome to Quarter 2! Do you need to go back to Quarter 1? Forward to Quarter 3 or Quarter 4?

Day 46

1. Today read chapters 13-15 of “The Caves of Steel.”
2. Summarize the events of today’s reading in your document.

Day 47

1. Today finish “The Caves of Steel” by reading chapters 16-18.
2. Summarize the events of today’s reading in your document.

Day 48

1. Write a 1 page essay about “The Caves of Steel.” You can choose from the topics below, or select your own.

  • Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics
  • Prejudice and Xenophobia (Earthmen vs Spacers vs Robots)
  • The Relationship Between Humans and Technology

Day 49

1. Watch the video about Fahrenheit 451.
2. Read pages 81-90 of “Fahrenheit 451” (1953) by Ray Bradbury.

Day 50

1. Watch “The City on the Edge of Forever” (Star Trek: The Original Series: Season 1, Episode 28)

Day 51

1. “Star Trek: The Original Series” made a lasting impact on society in many different areas.

  • Optimistic Vision of the Future: At a time when Cold War tensions were high, “Star Trek” presented a future where humanity had moved beyond its divisions, coming together with different alien races to explore the galaxy. This optimistic vision inspired countless viewers to believe in a brighter, united future.
  • Technological Advancement: Many modern technologies we use today were either inspired by or closely resemble devices from The Original Series. For instance, the communicator can be seen as a precursor to the flip phone, and the PADD (Personal Access Display Device) is similar to tablets like the iPad.
  • Promotion of Diversity: “Star Trek” was groundbreaking in its portrayal of a diverse crew, featuring people of different races and nationalities working together. The iconic scene where Captain Kirk (a white man) kisses Lieutenant Uhura (a Black woman) was one of the first interracial kisses on American television, challenging societal norms of the era.
  • Popular Culture Impact: The series spawned numerous catchphrases, such as “Beam me up, Scotty” (even though this exact phrase was never uttered in the series). Furthermore, the Vulcan salute and the saying “Live long and prosper” became part of global popular culture.
  • Scientific Inspiration: Many scientists and engineers have cited “Star Trek” as their inspiration for entering their fields. This includes individuals like Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, who was inspired by Lieutenant Uhura.
  • Fandom Culture: “Star Trek” conventions began in the 1970s, kickstarting a trend that’s now common for many franchises. This allowed fans to come together in real life, creating a sense of community and paving the way for modern fandom culture.
  • Discussion of Moral and Ethical Issues: Episodes often delved into profound ethical and philosophical dilemmas. “Star Trek” tackled issues ranging from war and peace, authoritarianism, the rights of the individual, and even drug addiction. These episodes prompted viewers to reflect on these themes and their relevance to contemporary society.
  • Environmentalism: Episodes often reflected an awareness of the importance of nature and the environment. For instance, “The Paradise Syndrome” showcased the beauty of an unspoiled planet. Such episodes echoed the growing environmental movement of the 1960s.
  • Space Exploration Advocacy: “Star Trek” inspired many viewers to see space as the final frontier truly, leading to increased support and interest in NASA and other space-related initiatives.

2. Watch the video “Star Trek Was Always Political.”

Day 52

1. “The Twilight Zone” (1959-1964) began in the late ’50s, but its influence carried well into the ’60s and beyond. Created by Rod Serling, this anthology series tackled various sci-fi, fantasy, and horror themes, often with a twist ending and a moral lesson. With its compelling scripts and focus on character-driven narratives, “The Twilight Zone” demonstrated that television could be an artistic medium on par with literature or cinema. Many “Twilight Zone” episodes are remembered for their unexpected twist endings, which became a hallmark of the series. Numerous filmmakers, writers, and TV creators cite “The Twilight Zone” as an influence, including Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Stephen King.
2. Today watch “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (Season 1, episode 22 of “The Twilight Zone.”)

Day 53

1. We can’t move past the 1960s without mentioning “Doctor Who,” the longest-running science fiction series in the world. “Doctor Who” debuted on November 23, 1963, on the British broadcasting channel, BBC. Created by Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, and Donald Wilson, the show was initially conceived as an educational series. The Doctor’s time travels were intended to explore historical events (to teach history) and futuristic scenarios (to teach science). However, the show quickly evolved into a sci-fi adventure series with the introduction of alien races and distant planets.
2. One of “Doctor Who’s” most ingenious plot devices is the Doctor’s ability to “regenerate” when mortally wounded or aging. This allows the character to take on a new appearance and personality, allowing different actors to play the same character. This concept of regeneration has provided a unique way for the show to reinvent itself over decades.
3. Today watch the 40th Anniversary “Story of Doctor Who.

Day 54

1. Watch the video about the origins of “Dune” (1965) by Frank Herbert.
2. Read an excerpt from “Dune.”

Day 55

1. Watch the video “Dune – Plots and Plans.”
2. Watch the video “Dune – Wandering in the Desert.”
3. Watch the video “Dune – Muad’dib.”

Day 56

1. Watch the video about Ray Bradbury and his role as a precursor of the “New Wave” of Sci Fi.
2. Watch the video about Philip K. Dick.
3. Read “Come Into My Cellar” (1962) by Ray Bradbury. This story is also titled “Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!”

Day 57

1. “Dragonflight,” the first book in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, is often categorized as fantasy due to its prominent inclusion of dragons, their riders, and a pre-industrial society. However, at its core, “Dragonflight” and the Pern series as a whole are rooted in science fiction. Anne McCaffrey herself was adamant that her books were science fiction and not fantasy. She saw the science behind the dragons and their bond with riders, the backstory of Pern’s colonization, and the genetic manipulation as key elements of her narrative.
2. Today read from the Introduction to the end of page 29 of “Dragonflight” (1968) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 58

1. Read pages 30- 73 of “Dragonflight” (1968) by Anne McCaffrey. (Stop at the poem.)

Day 59

1. Read pages 74-91 of “Dragonflight” (1968) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 60

1. “2001: A Space Odyssey,” directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on a story by renowned science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, is considered one of the most influential films in the history of cinema, especially within the science fiction genre. Many science fiction films and filmmakers have drawn inspiration from “2001,” and its influence can be seen in a wide range of films, from “Star Wars” to “Interstellar.” While not everything in the movie aligns with our current understanding of space and science, for its time, “2001” made a serious effort to stick to the scientific knowledge of space travel and physics, making it a benchmark for hard science fiction in film. It also showcased groundbreaking special effects that set a new standard for realism in depicting space travel.
2. Today watch “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968).

Day 61

1. “The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula K. Le Guin is a groundbreaking science fiction novel. It’s set on a planet named Gethen, where the inhabitants don’t have a fixed gender. Instead, they can switch between being male and female. This unique setting allows the book to explore deep ideas about gender, relationships, and society. Le Guin’s novel challenges traditional ideas and has made a lasting impact on the way we think about gender in storytelling.
2. Watch the video about “The Left Hand of Darkness.”
3. Read Ursula K. Le Guin’s introduction to “The Left Hand of Darkness.”

Day 62

1. Today read “With Morning Comes Mistfall” (1973) by George R. R. Martin.

Day 63

1. Today we’re going to begin reading a section from “Ringworld” (1970) by Larry Niven. The “Ringworld” is an immense structure that encircles a star, like a vast ring. This ring has a habitable inner surface equivalent in size to millions of planets. Rather than orbiting its star, the Ringworld is a continuous loop that surrounds it. As the ring rotates, it generates its own gravity on its inner surface, similar to a planet’s gravitational pull, making it possible for various beings and ecosystems to thrive on it.
2. A Dyson Sphere is a hypothetical megastructure completely enclosing a star, capturing its total energy output for use by an advanced civilization. The concept is named after British astronomer and mathematician Freeman Dyson, who popularized the idea in 1960. Completely enclosing a star in a sphere would require so much material and so much work that only an incredibly advanced civilization could do it. The Ringworld is an example of a pared-down Dyson Sphere. Instead of a full sphere, only a strip of material surrounds the star, creating a ring. This would still have millions of times the surface area of a single planet.
3. Today read chapter 10, “The Ring Floor.”

Day 64

1. Today read chapter 11, “The Arch of Heaven.”

Day 65

1. Today read Chapter 24, “Fist-of-God.”

Day 66

1. Today you will be watching “The Andromeda Strain” (1971).

Day 67

1. Prior to “Star Wars,” space operas were not the most popular or profitable sub-genre in science fiction. “Star Wars” brought epic tales of interstellar conflicts, charismatic heroes, and intricate galactic politics back to the forefront. It also showcased groundbreaking special effects. Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the company founded by George Lucas, set new standards for visual effects, ushering in an era of innovation that transformed how movies were made. Its influence can be seen in countless sci-fi films that followed, from space adventures to intricate tales of good versus evil.
2. Today watch “A New Hope” (1977).

Day 68

1. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (1979), written by Douglas Adams is an iconic sci-fi comedy. It brought a fresh, irreverent perspective on the universe and our place in it. Adams poked fun at bureaucracy, highlighted the silliness of human behavior, and introduced us to absurd characters and situations, all while making us ponder life’s big questions (and the number 42).
2. Today read pages 1-44 (Up to chapter 5) of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Day 69

1. Read pages 45-85 (up to chapter 10) of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Day 70

1. Read pages 86-131 (up to chapter 18) of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Day 71

1. Read pages 132-174 (up to chapter 26) of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Day 72

1. Read from page 175 to the end of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Day 73

1. Write a 1-page paper about “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” Compare it to the science fiction you have previously studied in this course. Discuss the similarities and differences in themes, style of humor, and approach to storytelling. What does this comparison reveal about Adams’ unique contribution to literature?
2. Your assignment should be submitted in 12-point Times New Roman and double-spaced.

Day 74

1. We’re moving forward to the 1980s! Science fiction was undergoing significant transformations, shaped by social, technological, and cultural shifts of the late 20th century. The 1970s had seen the rise of New Wave sci-fi, a movement that prioritized style, psychology, and a break from traditional storytelling structures. Authors like Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Le Guin had all been pushing the boundaries of the genre, emphasizing more introspective and experimental narratives. The rise of home computers, video games, and the early Internet began to lead to a budding interest in cyberpunk themes, with futures dominated by digital landscapes, corporate control, and blurred lines between humanity and technology.
2. Today watch an iconic sci-fi movie from the 1980s: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (1982).

Day 75

1. Today watch “Back to the Future.” (1985)

Day 76

1. “Ender’s Game,” a novel by Orson Scott Card published in 1985, presented a new take on military science fiction, focusing on the psychological and moral aspects of warfare. It delves into the complexities of leadership and the heavy toll that war takes on the young. It challenges readers to consider the consequences of actions taken in the name of survival. Surprisingly, “Ender’s Game” found popularity within actual military organizations, with some branches including it in reading lists for leadership training due to its insights into strategy, tactics, and the training of young military personnel.
2. Read chapters 1-4 of “Ender’s Game.”
3. Create a new document and take notes on what you have read. What do you think of Ender as a character? What attracts your attention about the program he has been raised in?

Day 77

1. Read chapters 5-6 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on what you have read. What is your impression of Battle School? What do you think of the game Ender plays?

Day 78

1. Read chapters 7-8 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on your reading. How do Bonzo and Petra’s reactions to Ender reveal their character? What are the differences between Salamander and Rat. What do you think of Dink’s philosophy?

Day 79>

1. Read chapter 9 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on your reading. What are Peter and Valentine up to? How has Ender’s experience in Battle School changed him?

Day 80

1. Read chapters 10-11 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Write notes about your reading. What does Ender’s strategy with Dragon army show about him? What do you think about Bean?

Day 81

1. Read chapter 12 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes. How did Ender’s solution to the Bonzo problem affect him? Why are his teachers pushing him so hard?

Day 82

1. Read chapter 13 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on your reading. Why did Ender make the decision he did? What do you think about it?

Day 83

1. Read chapter 14 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on your reading. What do you think about the revelation in this chapter?

Day 84

1. Read chapter 15 of “Ender’s Game.”
2. Take notes on your reading. What do you think about the end of the book? How do you feel about Ender’s plans?

Day 85

1. Write a 2 page essay based on your reading of “Ender’s Game.” The essay should be double-spaced and set to 12 point Times New Roman. Here are some suggested topics:

  • The Ethics of Warfare: Explore the ethical implications presented in “Ender’s Game” regarding the use of child soldiers and the morality of preemptive strikes in warfare. Compare these to real-world historical examples.
  • Leadership and Isolation: Analyze how Ender’s leadership qualities develop in tandem with his sense of isolation. Discuss whether isolation is a necessary component of leadership, as depicted in the novel.
  • Psychological Manipulation: Discuss the psychological manipulation of students at Battle School. Explore the impact this has on Ender’s identity and his ability to empathize with others, including his enemies.
  • The Concept of the ‘Other’: Investigate the portrayal of the Formics (Buggers) as the ‘Other’ and the impact this has on the characters’ perceptions of the enemy. How does this dehumanization justify certain actions in the novel, and what are the parallels in real life?
  • Ender Wiggin: Hero or Victim?: Debate whether Ender Wiggin should be seen as a hero for saving humanity or as a victim of the adults manipulating him. Use examples from the text to support your position.
  • The Duality of Human Nature: Analyze how Card presents the duality of human nature through Ender’s compassionate yet violent actions. How does the novel address the potential for both creation and destruction within each person?

Day 86

1. Today, choose between “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982) and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1986). These are two of the most highly regarded films in the Star Trek franchise. ‘The Wrath of Khan’ is a more serious, dramatic film, while ‘The Voyage Home’ is more comedic and entertaining.

Day 87

1. Today watch “Ghostbusters” (1984). While primarily known as a comedy, “Ghostbusters” also incorporates significant elements of science fiction. For example, the characters approach ghost hunting from a scientific standpoint. They are essentially scientists and engineers who use their knowledge to understand, analyze, and tackle paranormal phenomena. This scientific method applied to the supernatural blends the boundaries between traditional science fiction and fantasy. The concepts and theories discussed by the characters, like crossing the streams or the nature of the ectoplasm, are fictional but are treated with a scientific perspective. The movie invents its own set of scientific rules and jargon, contributing to a sci-fi narrative.

Day 88

1. Today read “Robot Dreams” (1986) by Isaac Asimov.

Day 89

1. Today read “Bears Discover Fire” (1990) by Terry Bisson.

Day 90

1. “Star Trek: The Next Generation” (TNG) is set roughly a century after the adventures of Captain Kirk and his crew. TNG introduced audiences to a new starship (the USS Enterprise-D) and a new crew, led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard. This shift in timeline allowed for a more advanced and refined portrayal of the Star Trek universe, reflecting changes in real-world technology and social attitudes. TNG delved deeper into complex moral and philosophical issues, often presenting more nuanced and less black-and-white scenarios than its predecessor. The series also emphasized a more diplomatic and exploratory approach to space, in line with Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a peaceful and enlightened future. Star Trek: TNG is one of the most beloved and influential sci-fi series of all time.
2. Watch Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 3, Episode 17, “Sins of the Father” (1990).

You’re finished with Quarter 2! Please proceed to Quarter 3.