Politics in Modern Science Fiction
Possible prompts for essay

Due Wednesday, April 25, 2001

The essay will be due on Wednesday, April 25, 2001. It should be four or five pages, typed, double-spaced, with reasonable typeface and margins (e.g., twelve-point Times New Roman, one-inch margins on all sides). Page limits are mostly a floor, not a ceiling, especially for fiction; if you're thinking of writing in the long form, more than six pages or so, see or e-mail me.

Note that these can be launching-off points; you don't have to do these exact topics. But if you're thinking of something more radically different, e-mail or see me.

  • Choose a science-fiction story, series, movie, TV show, or book that is not on the syllabus for this course. Summarize and analyze the politics of the work; that is, what you think the author is presenting as the political system of the imaginary world, and the political beliefs of sympathetic and unsympathetic characters.
  • Choose an aspect of your, or any human's, life (e.g., transportation, work, sex, parenting, recreation, writing). Using specific examples:
    1. Predict how advances in technology will change that human experience in the near future
    2. Predict, from that change, which groups will benefit and which groups will be hurt
    3. Explain what an individual (such as yourself) could do to modify, for the better, the nature of the change
  • Write a story in which one or more of the following things happens.
    1. Characters from different works we've read meet and compare notes.
    2. Make a "what-if" world in which some political factor in one of the works we've read is completely different.
  • If you disagree with the portrayal of politics in some world, or with the author's political views in a work we've read, write an essay or short story explaining why you feel that way. Critique the work, with specific examples.
  • What current political situation could have been averted through technology? How?
  • Examine some aspect of politics (power) of a work we read or watched in class. This should be an aspect that we did not discuss at length in class, e.g., the role of religion and spiritual beliefs in Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness.

I hope these questions can be a foundation, not a cage.

Good luck.

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