“Story of Your Life” tells two primary stories, one about Louise’s encounter with the heptapods, the other about her life with her daughter. What, if anything, connects the two stories? Specifically where and how does that connection take place?
The Le Guin readings, “The Question of Sex” and “Nine Lives” don’t offer a lot narrative action—laser fights, drawn out dramatic rescues, and so forth. If they’re not driven primarily by action sequences, what does drive them? It’s fine to write about just one of the stories rather than both.
How would you position James Tiptree’s work relative to the pulp SF we have read to this point? What is one way in which “The Women Men Don’t See” is either different from or very similar to the style or content of earlier magazine stories (“The Roads Must Roll,” “The Cold Equations,” and “Helen O’Loy,” for example) that we have read?
The Vonnegut and Bradbury stories that we read for today are very different in many ways, but both suggest dystopian worlds. What are one or two traits they share that make them recognizably dystopian, however different they may be in tone?
War of the Worlds gained a notorious reputation, because some listeners believed it was reporting some kind of actual event. Did you find it believable? Can you imagine how others might? Name one or two particular devices employed that might have created confusion between the real and the fictional. Is there a point in the narrative at which you can’t see how any one could think of it as actual news reporting?
The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin touches on the aspect of humanity in Science Fiction, an idea that I previously separated from this genre of work. Barton was faced with the difficult decision to rid Marilyn from his ship, which she ultimately did voluntarily when she walked into the airlock. Once I read Helen O’Loy by Lester Del Rey, I knew this decision could bring rise to an issue surrounding humanity in the Science Fiction genre.
I took Theory and Method with Professor Allen, a class in which we used the HBO show Westworld as a text to discuss similar questions of humanity that came to my mind while reading Helen O’Loy. In Westworld, robots appeared and behaved so humanely that one could not tell the difference between human and robot. We contemplated the question of whether or not a robot can ever become human, and if it is indeed self awareness that can allow such a transformation. So, while Helen is not human, her self awareness and ability to enter a loving and emotional relationship with a human surely presents her character as somewhat humane.
Ultimately, combining Godwin’s use of morality, and Del Rey’s ability to portray robots with human features allows one to consider analyzing science fiction texts through an uncommon lens. Is there a point when science fiction can cross genres? At what point can the imaginative become real, if at all?
What differentiates either “The Roads Must Roll” or “The Cold Equations” from the Weinbaum stories you read for last time? Are the narrative voices distinct? Do they have a similar or different way of presenting “science” and the technological?
Who do you think is the intended audience for Weinbaum’s stories? What in the stories makes you think as you do? The vocabulary? The portrayal of specific characters? The nature of the narratives and the kinds of creatures in them?
What do we learn about the time traveller in the opening frame of the story, as he explains his time machine to his friends? How do those traits inform the way he understands (or misunderstands) the future when he gets there?