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Exploring Science Fiction, Quarter 3

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

Day 91

1. “Jurassic Park,” directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1993, was based on the 1993 novel by Michael Chrichton. It left an indelible mark on the science fiction genre, primarily through its groundbreaking use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and animatronics. The film brought dinosaurs to life with a level of realism never before seen on the big screen, fundamentally changing the way filmmakers approached visual effects in science fiction. Its commercial success revitalized interest in both paleontology and genetic science, influencing an entire generation’s perception of dinosaurs and their portrayal in media. This film set a new standard for visual storytelling, proving that advanced technology could be used to create not just spectacle, but also deeply immersive and believable fictional worlds.
2. Today, watch “Jurassic Park” (1993).

Day 92

1. “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey is set in a future where humanity has colonized many worlds across the galaxy thanks humanity’s development of psychic talents (including teleportation and telekinesis). The story centers around the Rowan, one of the rare and powerful telepaths and telekinetics essential for interstellar communication and travel. This book marks the beginning of McCaffrey’s Tower and Hive series.
2. This book is divided into parts, rather than chapters, so you will need to stop and start at page breaks where indicated. Today read pages 1-33 of “The Rowan.”

Day 93
1. Read pages 33-66 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 94
1. Read pages 66-109 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 95
1. Read pages 110-134 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 96
1. Read pages 137-175 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 97
1. Read pages 175-214 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 98
1. Read pages 214-249 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 99
1. Read pages 253-289 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 100
1. Read pages 289-328 of “The Rowan” (1990) by Anne McCaffrey.

Day 101

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

  • Telepathy and Telekinesis in Science Fiction: Examine how McCaffrey uses telepathy and telekinesis in “The Rowan.” How do you think these powers would impact the development of humanity?
  • The Impact of Isolation: Discuss the impact of isolation, both physical and emotional, on the Rowan’s development and relationships. How does McCaffrey illustrate the human need for connection?
  • Family and Belonging: Discuss the theme of family and belonging, both in biological terms and created bonds, in “The Rowan.” How does this theme drive the narrative and character interactions?
  • Psychological Effects of Trauma: Analyze how McCaffrey portrays the psychological effects of trauma in the novel, particularly in relation to the Rowan’s early life experiences.

Day 102

1. Combining elements of horror, science fiction, and conspiracy theories, The X-Files became a cultural phenomenon spawning a vast fandom. Today, watch an episode of The X-Files (1993-2001).

Day 103

1. “Stargate,” the 1994 movie, made a splash in the sci-fi world by bringing together a mix of ancient Egyptian mythology and cutting-edge science fiction. It took history and turned it into an epic interstellar adventure. The concept of the Stargate itself – a portal to other planets – opened up endless possibilities for storytelling. The movie’s success led to the “Stargate SG-1” TV series, which expanded on the movie’s ideas and explored new worlds and cultures, keeping fans hooked for years.
2. Today watch “Stargate” (1994).

Day 104

1. “Gattaca” (1997) explored the implications of genetic engineering and eugenics, with a focus on identity, determinism, and human spirit. Today watch “Gattaca.”

Day 105

1. Today read “A Walk in the Sun” (1992) by Geoffrey Landis.

Day 106

1. Today read “None So Blind” (1994) by Joe Haldeman.

Day 107

1. “Sliders” (1995–2000): This series followed a group of travelers as they used a wormhole to “slide” between different parallel universes, encountering various dystopian and alternate versions of Earth.
2. Watch Season 1, episodes 1 and 2 of “Sliders.”

Day 108

1. Today read “Think Like a Dinosaur” (1995) by James Patrick Kelly.

Day 109

1. “Quantum Leap,” originally airing from 1989 to 1993, follows Dr. Sam Beckett, played by Scott Bakula, a brilliant physicist who becomes trapped in a time-travel experiment gone awry. Sam ‘leaps’ into the bodies of people in different historical periods within his own lifetime (the late 20th century). Each episode sees Sam assuming a new identity, with the mission to correct something that went wrong in that person’s life. Sam’s memory is patchy due to the leap effect, where he remembers parts of his own life but often needs guidance to understand his mission in each new leap. Assisting Sam is Admiral Al Calavicci, played by Dean Stockwell, who appears as a hologram only Sam can see and hear.
2. Today watch an episode of “Quantum Leap” (1989).

Day 110

1. Today read “Ancient Engines” (2000) by Michael Swanwick.

Day 111

1. “Firefly,” created by Joss Whedon and aired in 2002, is considered significant in science fiction despite its short run of only one season. Its blend of space western themes, detailed character development, and complex narrative set it apart from other shows in the genre. The series is set in the aftermath of a galactic civil war in a new star system and follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity, a group of misfits and renegades.
2. Today watch “Jaynestown,” the seventh episode of “Firefly” (2002).

Day 112
1. The early 2000s marked the beginning of an era for superhero movies, a trend that would evolve into a dominant force in the global film industry. Kickstarted by the success of films like “X-Men” (2000) and “Spider-Man” (2002), this period saw a renewed interest in adapting comic book heroes to the big screen. These films broke away from previous superhero portrayals, offering more complex characters, sophisticated narratives, and higher production values, including groundbreaking special effects. The critical and commercial success of these movies paved the way for studios to invest in more superhero projects, effectively revitalizing the genre. The early 2000s also set the stage for the establishment of cinematic universes, most notably the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which began with “Iron Man” in 2008.
2. Today watch “X-Men” (2000).

Day 113

1. “Altered Carbon” by Richard K. Morgan (2002) is a cyberpunk novel known for its gritty world-building and exploration of themes like identity, morality, and society in a future where consciousness can be transferred to different bodies.
2. Today read the Prologue and Chapter One of “Altered Carbon” by Richard K. Morgan.

Day 114

1. Today read chapter 2 of “Altered Carbon.”

Day 115

1. Today read chapter 3 of “Altered Carbon.”

Day 116

1. The 2003 movie “Timeline,” based on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name, follows a group of archaeology students who use a newly discovered wormhole technology to travel back to 14th-century France in an attempt to rescue their professor. While the film explores the implications of altering the past and the ethical considerations of using such powerful technology, it also delves into the human experiences of adventure and the pursuit of knowledge across time.
2. Today watch the movie “Timeline” (2003).

Day 117

1. The first “Transformers” movie, released in 2007, marked a significant milestone for science fiction. It pioneered groundbreaking visual effects and CGI, particularly in the portrayal of robotic transformations. Its success at the box office significantly influenced the science fiction and action genres, setting new standards for action sequences and the integration of CGI with live-action. “Transformers” revitalized the franchise, introducing iconic characters like Optimus Prime and Bumblebee to a new generation and cementing its cultural impact. Despite mixed critical reviews, its contributions to visual effects and its role in shaping blockbuster filmmaking dynamics underscore its importance in the science fiction landscape.
2. Today watch “Transformers” (2007).

Day 118

1. “Fringe,” which aired from 2008 to 2013, is a science fiction TV series that blends elements of mystery, horror, and speculative science to explore themes of parallel universes, advanced technology, and the ethical boundaries of scientific exploration. Centered around the Fringe Division, a special team led by FBI agent Olivia Dunham, the series delves into bizarre and unexplained phenomena, drawing heavily on the concept of “fringe” science.
2. Watch Season 2, Episode 15, titled “Peter.”

Day 119

1. Today read “The People of Sand and Slag” by Paolo Bacigalupi (2004).

Day 120

1. “Heroes” (2006) was a significant entry in the science fiction genre. Blending the allure of superhuman abilities with the relatable dramas of everyday life, it redefined superhero stories for television. The series delved into classic sci-fi themes of evolution and destiny, exploring how ordinary individuals react to acquiring extraordinary powers. What set “Heroes” apart was its serialized storytelling, which allowed for deep character development and intricate plots that spanned the globe, tying together far-flung characters and stories into a cohesive, interconnected narrative. “Heroes” influenced a wave of similar shows and marked a shift toward more ambitious, serialized narratives in science fiction television.
2. Today watch an episode of “Heroes” (2006). Choose any episode you like.

Day 121

1. “The Emperor of Mars” is a science fiction short story by Allen M. Steele, published in 2010 in Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine. This story is part of Steele’s larger body of work set within the universe of the Coyote series but stands out for its focus on Mars and its exploration. “The Emperor of Mars” received the 2011 Hugo Award for Best Novelette.
2. Today read “The Emperor of Mars” (2010) by Allen M. Steele.

Day 122

1. The reboot of “Doctor Who” in 2005 revitalized a classic science fiction series that had been off the air since 1989 (excluding a 1996 TV movie). This reboot introduced the Doctor and his adventures through time and space to a new generation, successfully blending traditional elements of the show — such as the TARDIS, Daleks, and the Doctor’s regenerative ability — to appeal to both long-time fans and newcomers. The rebooted “Doctor Who” became a global phenomenon, leading to spin-offs, merchandise, and a renewed interest in science fiction on television.
2. Today watch an episode of Doctor Who (2005). Choose any episode you like.

Day 123

1. “Paycheck” (2003), directed by John Woo and based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, is a science fiction action film that deals with themes of memory, technology, and free will. It features Michael Jennings, an engineer who has his memory wiped after completing top-secret projects. Jennings must unravel a mystery using a set of seemingly unrelated items he left for himself before his memory wipe, leading to a deeper examination of destiny and personal identity The movie is as example of how Philip K. Dick’s work continues to influence and inspire the sci-fi genre, prompting audiences to question the nature of reality and the potential perils of unchecked technological advancement.
2. Today watch “Paycheck” (2003).

Day 124

1. “Tron: Legacy” (2010), the sequel to the 1982 film “Tron,” pushed the boundaries of digital effects, creating a stunningly immersive digital world that was a leap forward from its predecessor. The film’s aesthetic, characterized by its unique digital landscape and innovative use of light and color, has been highly influential in visual design across media. “Tron: Legacy” explored the evolving relationship between humans and technology, touching on ideas of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the potential for digital worlds.
2. Today watch “Tron: Legacy” (2010).

Day 125

1. “World War Z” by Max Brooks, published in 2006 and later adapted into a movie, is a groundbreaking work in the zombie genre, offering a unique and deeply human perspective on the hypothetical global outbreak of a zombie apocalypse. Distinguished by its format as an oral history, the novel compiles individual accounts from various survivors around the world, providing a panoramic view of humanity’s cultural, political, and social responses to the crisis. By framing a fantastical scenario in a realistic and meticulously researched context, “World War Z” allows readers to reflect on real-world issues such as pandemic preparedness, the importance of community, and the impact of human behavior on survival.
2. Today read an excerpt from “World War Z.”

Day 126

1. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) began in 2008 with the release of “Iron Man,” marking a pivotal moment in the landscape of both cinema and science fiction. The MCU innovatively combined the appeal of comic book superheroes with the depth and continuity of serialized storytelling, setting a new standard for cinematic universes. This approach not only revitalized interest in superhero narratives but also significantly influenced the science fiction genre. By integrating advanced technology, alien civilizations, and cosmic threats into its world-building, the MCU expanded the scope of science fiction in mainstream cinema, blending it seamlessly with elements of fantasy and action. The success of the MCU has encouraged the exploration of complex scientific and ethical themes through accessible, character-driven stories, pushing the boundaries of traditional sci-fi narratives.
2. Today watch “Iron Man” (2008).

Day 127

1. “The Hunger Games” series, beginning with Suzanne Collins’ novel in 2008 and film adaptation in 2012, had a profound impact on science fiction by mainstreaming the dystopian genre for a new generation. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where children are forced to compete in televised death matches, the series explores themes of power, inequality, surveillance, and resistance. Its success sparked a surge in dystopian fiction and films, particularly within the young adult segment.
2. Today read chapter 1 of “The Hunger Games” (2008) by Suzanne Collins.

Day 128

1. “Ready Player One,” a novel by Ernest Cline published in 2011, is set in a dystopian future where humanity escapes to the OASIS, a vast virtual universe, to evade the grim realities of a deteriorating Earth. “Ready Player One” resonated with a broad audience, blending nostalgia with speculative technology, and its adaptation into a blockbuster film in 2018 further increased its impact. The novel sparked discussions about the future of online spaces, digital economies, and the societal implications of increasingly immersive virtual worlds.
2. Read chapter 0000 (pages 3-11) of “Ready Player One.”

Day 129

1. Read chapter 0001 of “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline. (pages 12-26)

Day 130

1. Read chapter 0002 to the end of the excerpt of “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.

Day 131

1. “Inception” (2010), directed by Christopher Nolan, pushed the boundaries of narrative structure and visual storytelling within the genre. The film’s exploration of dreams within dreams, and the concept of planting an idea in someone’s subconscious, introduced audiences to a complex, layered narrative that blended psychological depth with speculative technology. “Inception” explored profound philosophical questions, such as the nature of reality and perception, influencing movies that would come after it.
2. Today watch “Inception” (2010).

Day 132

1. James Cameron’s “Avatar” (2009) pushed the boundaries of visual effects and 3D filmmaking. Its innovative use of motion capture technology and stunning computer-generated imagery set a new benchmark for visual storytelling, inspiring filmmakers to explore more ambitious and visually complex narratives. The film’s immense commercial success also demonstrated the lucrative potential of high-concept sci-fi films, leading to a resurgence in big-budget sci-fi productions that emphasize both spectacle and narrative depth.
2. Today watch “Avatar” (2009)

Day 133

1. Today, read “The Paper Menagerie” by Ken Liu (2011). While not science fiction, per se, this story made history by becoming the first work to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards. It uses speculative elements to explore themes of cultural identity, family, and the immigrant experience through the lens of magical realism.

Day 134

1. Today read “Cat Pictures, Please” (2015) by Naomi Kritzer.

Day 135

1. “Leviathan Wakes,” the first novel in the “Expanse” series by James S.A. Corey (a pen name for authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), published in 2011, revitalized the space opera as a genre, blending hard science fiction with deep political intrigue and realistic human drama set in a meticulously crafted future solar system. The novel explores the fragile balance of power between Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt. It laid the groundwork for a critically acclaimed series and was adapted into the television series “The Expanse,” further cementing its influence on the genre and bringing its richly imagined world to a broader audience.
2. Read the prologue to “Leviathan Wakes” (2011) by James S. A. Corey.

Proceed to Quarter 4.