English 192
Science Fiction
Spring 2002
Professor William Warner

Course Overview



Study Materials

Course Policies


Reading and screenings

In order to study science fiction, it is most useful to take notes while or immediately after you read a text or screen a film. Isolate the key ideas, scenes and questions posed by films and texts. This will help you to develop your own perspective on each of these texts. Bring these notes to class for the lecture and discussion section.

1st paper: due April 18 at beginning of lecture: 4 page paper on H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, or Isaac Asimov I, Robot. Topics will be put here a week before the paper is due in lecture.

How to Write a Good Paper

Constituents of a good paper

  • Your paper should be thesis driven and argumentative: assume your reader has read the text many times, so don't retell the story. Assume that they are unconvinced by your thesis.
  • Introduce and state your thesis in your first paragraph; your thesis should be non-obvious and non-trivial [e.g. Alien invasion triggers a struggle for human survival.]
  • Write 5-8 paragraphs that develop your thesis in a compelling and logical fashion. You can be creative and have fun, but write clearly and correctly. Please support your thesis with specific references to scenes, characters, or passages of the text. You will not have space for quotations longer than a sentence or two.
  • End with an interesting extension of your thesis (Not its restatement)
  • Include a "Works Cited" list as an appendix to your paper, referring to articles, books, or web sites using MLA format. In the body of your paper refer to texts by the author's name and page number. E.g. (Warner, 35)
Preparing to Write
  • Choose a topic and reread the text you are writing on taking notes on your topic
  • Figure out the thesis for your paper
  • Write a detailed outline of your essay (please attach this to your paper)
  • Proof read you essay carefully after you have written it.


Topics for the paper due April 18
  1. Murderous community: the problem of human solidarity after catastrophe
  2. Martian machines and human machines
  3. The Man on Putney Hill's Survival Plan
  4. The Martian Assessment of the Earthlings
  5. Dr. Susan Calvin's ambivalent relationship to the robots she builds(an essay on this topic must deal with the whole arc of I, Robot)
  6. Can you explain what happens to the three laws of robotics as they are migrated to robots with higher intelligence

Midterm: April 30: The midterm will focus on the ideas, texts and film scenes discussed in the lectures. Format will be

  1. matching names, concepts and terms with each other
  2. identification of quotation: you provide work, speaker, situation that gives quotation significance
  3. a one-paragraph essay upon one of two topics from Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness

2nd paper: due at the beginning of lecture May 16
This will be a 5 page paper on Ursela Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness,
a comparison of Arthur C. Clark's and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey

Topics for the paper

Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness

  1. An anthropological story
  2. Conflict on Gethen and on Earth
  3. Self-discovery through adventure

Clark and Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey:
Draw upon the two versions of 2001: A Space Odyssey to write a paper focused on one of these topics. You may end emphasizing the complementary similarity of the two collaborators, or how they differ in their treatment of the same story.

  1. The monolith
  2. The evolution of humanity
  3. The advance of technology
  4. Guiding (or mystifying) the reader/ viewer
  5. The gender of humans and non-humans (e.g. space ships)
  6. The human journey toward God

Final exam: June 11, 7:30-10:30PM in Buchanan 1910

Format of the final exam:

  1. Matching key terms (25%)
  2. identifications (25%) will come from those texts and films discussed in lecture.
  3. Out of four essay questions, select two to write on. (25% each)

The final exam will cover the whole course. However, added emphasis will be put on texts and films we have studied since the mid-term.

Final exam review sheet


Course Policies
  • Regular attendance at the lectures and section meetings is required.
  • Please arrive on time and take care of bathroom and food needs before lecture. We will have a short break during our long class. Please don't eat in class, but drinks are fine.
  • University rules against plagarism will be strictly enforced.
  • Weighting of elements of the class to arrive at your grade:
    midterm = 20 %
    paper is !5% = 30 %
    final exam = 35 %
    attendance and participation in lecture and section = 15 %
This page was composed by Professor William Warner. Last changed 4/2/02. This course is part of the Transcriptions Project of the Department of English at UC /Santa Barbara.