Assignment: Lecture 8 on the Golden Age of SF Part 2 and Conducting Research

Greetings, all! I hope that you and your families are doing well in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

This week, I posted two lecture videos. The first is the second part of the “Golden Age of SF” and it covers Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies–” and Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations. After you read both of those stories and listen to the lecture, remember to write at least 250 words summarizing the important points from the lecture and the two stories. Copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post.

The second video discusses the research essay project and how to research your topic in the databases and ebooks available through the library. Two things that I forgot to mention in the video: First, perform a quick check in some of the databases for the work that you plan to write about. If there’s not much there, you should consider switching to a different example. Second, your research does not all have to be about the example that you are writing about. For example, you could choose to write about Janelle Monae’s Metropolis EP. There might not be much in the databases specifically about this album, but there will be articles about science fiction and music, which you can reference in your discussion about Monae’s work.

This week’s summary shouldn’t refer to the research lecture–it’s purpose is to help you with your essay project.

This week’s summary should focus on the Golden Age of SF Part 2 lecture and the readings.

I’ll have office hours Tuesday from 5-6pm. I’ll post a link beforehand to the Google Hangout. Also, I’m available by email at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu.

17 thoughts on “Assignment: Lecture 8 on the Golden Age of SF Part 2 and Conducting Research”

  1. The Golden Age of SF Part II has become one of my favorite lectures. This is mostly due to the curious and tragic readings of the authors. Before I go into the lecture I want to express my praise for “Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin. This story was truly emotional and really presented a morbid situation. A teenage girl finds herself at what may be the end of her life over a very human-like decision she makes. She is not the only character involved in the story, the pilot comes to her aid but only in the way that he can. I was hurt to see the girl’s understanding of her decision and how she uses her last few moments as best as she can. The pilot does everything he can but it is out of his hands. I visioned a horrible scene in my head to how this story concludes. “All you zombies” by Robert A. Heinlein was as confusing as a square enix game can get. You have no idea what the hell is going on, who is who, how did this character know this and how did they not know that. All you zombies may take extra resources outside of the reading itself to really understand this story. After seeing the diagram in our lecture I can’t say I put all the pieces together but I had a better understanding of what exactly was going on. The most important part of this story is that all the characters are played by the same character but in different roles? I thought the story was great just because it really made me think. Although the diagram almost doesn’t help me at all, it’s an interesting and creative concept. What I think this lecture mostly represents is a huge evolution to SF, all the years building up to what it has become in that era… it’s no wonder this was the Golden age. Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) used these characteristics in his story 1. Future History,2. Hard Science Fiction, 3. Self-Assured Writing Style,4. Didactic Father, 5.Political, 6. Sexuality. What really sticks out to me is how I can see these characteristics in modern SF. Heinlein’s Significant Works showed true diverisim and new approach to who would appear in these stories. Suddenly, there was more than just “white blonde giant” making appearances there was now a more diverse cast with different backgrounds like the Purterican man in Starship Troopers and the Crippled Inventor of Waldo. It will be exciting to see what new elements this genre will bring as we continue up the timeline in our next lectures.

  2. Our 4/7/20 lecture was continuation of the 3/25 lecture focused on the “Golden Age of SF” (spanned the years ~1938-1946 and was characterized by the shift from the lower-brow writing of mass-market pulp to the era of “slicks,” glossy, higher quality magazine prints with SF stories of more sophisticated writing).
    Another important author of the period was Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), who had a major influence on the genre of SF. He was a former U.S. Navy officer that also studied physics at UCLA and started publishing SF in 1939 in an issue of “Astounding.” Among many accolades (multiple Hugo awards over the course of his career), he was the first “Grand Master” of the SF Writers of America. Some important characteristics of Heinlein’s work included the “future history” that he built, the public mapping of the works he had written and those that had yet to come, his focus on “hard science fiction,” which is SF that emphasizes using sound physics and engineering in stories (established and/or carefully extrapolated science), his self-assured writing style, his inclusion of didactic father-figures (likely representing himself), his libertarian politics, and frank expression of sexuality. Some of his important works included “By His Bootstraps” (1941), Starship Troopers (1959) and Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) (among others).
    “All You Zombies” (published in 1959 in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction) told the story of a person who, due to being intersexed and having access to a time machine, becomes their own father and mother. All major characters in the work are the same person at different stages of life and on different sides of a gender reassignment operation. Concepts mentioned in the book that were discussed in the lecture included the symbol of the Ouroboros (snake eating its own tail; similar to the phoenix, a symbol of regeneration), solipsism (the idea that we can only be sure of our own minds) and the Zombie, which is a contemporary idea based on the African idea of a corpse remaining under the control of a witchcraft doer; colloquially it now means a person who doesn’t pay much attention. The first clue that the main character(s) is more complex than he seems is the reference to him as the “Unmarried Mother,” who is at the same time both a 25-year-old, moody (male) drinker and also the older male bartender that is serving him (he is serving himself from the past). Both men were once an orphan that was born a female, but unknowingly with both sets of sexual organs. The female orphan grows up and is eventually impregnated by a man (who is she, but after her gender reassignment), and gives birth to the orphan that is her from the past. After giving birth the surgeon realizes she has two sets of sexual organs and assigns her the male gender, adapting the sexual organs as needed. The male then becomes the moody 25-year-old who walks into the bar to be served by his future self. The future self takes his 25-year-old self into the back of the bar to a time machine, promising the 25-year-old a chance to confront the father that abandoned him. The 25-year-old goes back in time, ultimately meets his former female self and impregnates her, creating himself as an orphan. The bartender (the furthest along in the event chain) repeats this loop of recreating and recruiting himself into a job that entails time travel in the service of some kind of “Temporal” oversight body that acts as a central regulator for time travel. The story was dense with complexity and was a testament to the author’s clarity of thought and ability to create a thought-provoking story out of a chain of events having a highly delicate logical flow.
    Tom Godwin (1915-1980) was a writer of “Campbellian” and “Astounding” traditions. He had kyphosis (hunched back), dropped out of school in the 3rd grade, and ultimately became an alcoholic, understandably. Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” was published in August 1954 in “Astounding” and is considered one of the best examples of “hard SF,” exemplifying a story in which the outcome is dependent on natural law and the constraints detailed in the story’s logic itself. That is, the endings aren’t happy or sad as much as they are inevitable and created by the rules that exist in the storyline. Campbell Jr. insisted that the ending of the story (not a rosy ending) reflect the realities of natural law established (a “cold equation”).
    In the year 2178, an “Emergency Dispatch Ship” (EDS) is dispatched from a space cruiser (travelling long distances on time- and resource-sensitive assignments) in order to save a team of distance space colonists short on medical supplies. The efficiency of operations in this future space world is perfectly optimized; no energy is unnecessarily spent, and therefore no actions are unnecessarily taken. The EDS has exactly the amount of fuel required to drop off the life-saving payload required by the colonists, however the pilot (named Barton) finds an unusual reading by the ships sensors indicating that additional mass is present on the ship. He ultimately finds a young female stowaway on board (Marilyn Lee Cross), who snuck on the ship so that she could visit her brother, a colonist living on the destination planet. In her naiveté, she does not realize that stowing away onboard was writing her own death sentence, as the ship would not have enough fuel to transport both the pilot and her to the destination planet and back to be picked up by a cruiser. The story takes the reader through the human and logical calculations of the pilot, his distant team and the young girl as they deal with the conclusion that she must inevitably be jettisoned into space in order to save the lives of the pilot and colonists. Barton exposes her to space, opening the airlock.
    The story emphasized the unforgiving, “cold” nature of the laws of science and the customs of a future society that is beholden to those laws with zero margin for error. Barton, a human being, was forced to “balance” this “cold equation.”

  3. In this lecture, we covered the second portion of the “Golden Age of SF”. In the beginning of the lecture, we learned about Robert A. Heinlein. He began publishing SF in 1939 and became very well recognized for his writing. We went over six characteristics of his work which include:
    Future History
    Hard Science Fiction
    Self Assured Writing Style
    Didactic Father Figures
    Politics
    Sexuality
    We learned about what each of these characteristics mean and how Heinlein incorporated all of these characteristics into his writing. We also discussed various of Heinlein’s significant works. We then discussed the story “All You Zombies -” which was Heinlein’s last short story. It was published in the March 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Interestingly, the same character plays all the roles in the story. The story touches on sex, intersex, transgender, and gender, many controversial topics in today’s world. We went over definitions of each of the terms and learned about important, historic people who were transgender. We also learned about the mistreatment and abuse transgender people faced. There were people who studied and experimented on transgender people. One of them was Dr. John Money, a psychologist and sexologist who believed gender was learned. He used David Reimer as a case study to prove his case. We then discussed various terms in “All You Zombies-” and their meanings. We also learned about a song called “I’m my own Grandpa” from 1947 that told a story about marriage and procreation that resulted in the narrator becoming his own grandpa. Science fiction sure is interesting. Toward the ending of the lecture, we learned about Tom Godwin, who had a difficult life. His work “The Cold Equation” was published in the August 1954 issue of Astounding. It confronts the reality of the cold equations of natural law and is a prime example of Hard SF. We learned that Hard SF can not always have a happy ending as any plot development and ending is completely dependent on natural law and constraints detailed in the story itself.

  4. “All you zombies” was Robert A. Heinlein final short story before going on to other things like novels. “All you zombies” was intended to be featured in a playboy magazine. The short story was later rejected by Playboy. From a personal experience if I’m being truly honest to myself. Out of my 19 years of existence, 19 years of breathing oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide on this planet. I’ve never been more confused and horrified reading any sort of story but damm was I entertained. This bizarre story follows a young man, that’s a transgender whom goes back in time. Impregnates his younger female self, I swear I’m not making this up. So after impregnating his younger self. I cant believe I said that. The young man becomes his own father, mother and offspring. All the major characters end up being the same person. Robert A. Heinlein was the first grand master of SFWA. And had a massive influence to the SF community. Robert A. Had 6 characteristics that defined his legacy. 1. Future History. Robert had a new approach at storytelling showing the biggest picture to the writer trajectory, which lead a new wave of appreciative readers. Robert later moved on to abandon future history in the 50s 2. Hard SF “Hard sf is the form of imaginative literature, that uses establish SF as its backbone” Alean Steal. Robert had a self ensured writing style which basically leaves the door open interpretation and let the readers decide what will happen next. Robert always there in a father figure that helped to guide or teach the main character. Politics was a very important viewpoint in Heinlein writing, most clearly in “the moon is a harsh mistress”. And finally Heinlein was never afraid to throw in sexuality in his stories. We can see this Very Very clearly in “All you Zombies”.

  5. This lecture continued to discussion of the golden age of Science Fiction. The writer significantly talked about was Robert A. Heilein, who lived from 1907-1988. There were six characteristics of his work mentioned, such as didactic father figures, politics, and sexualities. However, “hard Science Fiction” was focused on a little more. Allen Steele’s definition of hard Science Fiction was said to be “the form of imaginative literature that uses either established or carefully extrapolated science as it’s backbone.” Heinlein also had a self-assured writing style, which meant that he blended slang, aphorisms, technical jargon, clever understatement, etc; there was a concentration on people rather than gadgets. When speaking on Heinlein’s significant works, one stuck out to me. “Waldo” (1942) is about a crippled inventor who lives on a space station and uses remote controlled appendages to do work. If his limbs are technological, would this classify him as a cyborg? The lecture spoke on definitions that are not only important to the stories we read, but also to us living in today’s society. The terms sex, intersex, non-binary, and gender were all explained to better understand the story and history. Along with this was a talk about important transgender persons such as David Reimer, who had a botched circumcision, then a sex reassignment surgery to cover up the mishap, and was raised as a girl. However, as Reimer grew, he felt better identifying as a male. Sadly, Reimer committed suicide at the age of 38 due to his rough childhood. This story ties into the fact that transgender individuals were sometimes used as experiments, as stated in the lecture.

  6. The class centered around 1 great figure that established some elements that expanded the Megatext of the science fiction. That figure is Robert Anson Heinlein (1907-1988), he was educated at University of Missouri. He served in the navy in Annapolis for 5 years. He suffered tuberculosis. In 1939 he started to write science fiction for astounding. He is considered as the 1st Grand Master of Science Fiction in America, he won 4 Hugo awards for the best novel.
    He had 6 main characteristics in the work, and we received a good explanation of them. I will refer to those who called my attention. Future History it’s the idea of mapping out what is yet to come in the stories. This idea can be applying in a whole book, a series of the book or arcs of any stories. Hard Science Fiction, it must have an internal logic that can be inferred from that reality that is used as the base. Then, used that technology and extrapolate them until the point of the writer’s needs. Self-Assured writing style an apparent casualness, a clear concentration on people rather than gadgets, this is an attempt to describe the world as something real, where readers can easily connect with. Some of the works that were describe were “by his bootstraps”, “Waldo”, “Starship Trooper”, “Stranger in a stranger land”, “the Moon is a Harsh Mistress”, “Time Enough for Love”, and “All you Zombies”.
    In the last segment of the class, Tom Godwin was referred and a quick resume of his life and works. He was a hard SF writer. The cold equation of the natural law was a keystone in the way this writer describes his SF stories.

  7. In our last lecture class lecture 8, we discussed part 2 of The Golden Ages of Science Fiction. We began with Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988), his first piece of Science Fiction was published in Astounding magazine in 1939. He was also the grand master of SFWA. Heinlein won four Hugo award for best novel.
    Main characteristic of Robert A. Heinlein work
    1. Future history
    2. Hard Science Fiction
    3. Self- Assured writing style
    4. Didactic father figures
    5. Political
    6. Sexuality
    Some of Heinlein works included by his Bootstraps (1941) a time travel story he published under the name Heinlein Macdonald. Waldo (1942) this story was about a crippled inventor who lives on a spaceship and uses remote controlled limbs to do his work. Starship Troopers (1959) was about the training and deployment of Johnny Rico to fight an alien species. Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) this novel was about earth man Valentines Michael Smith who was raised on mars and then got sent back to earth. All You Zombies was written in March 1959, it was Heinlein’s last short story he wrote before moving on to writing novels. The story was about a young man who is intersex; he is taken back in time to and tricked into impregnating his younger female self before he had sexual reassignment surgery, making him the mother and father of his own self. All the characters are played by the same person at different stages of his life.
    Terms from the story
    1. Ouroboros- a serpent or dragon eating its own tale, representing self recreation.
    2. Solipsism- the idea that we can only be sure of our own mind.
    3. Zombie- undead creature that feed on the flesh of the living and if bitten you become a zombie.
    4. Jukebox- coin operated music player
    Tome Godwin (1915-1980) was a writer of the Campbellian and Astounding traditions. He published about 30 stories. The Cold Equations was written August 1954 and published in Astounding magazine, it was hard Science Fiction, and it confronted the reality of the cold equations of natural law. This story was about an emergency dispatch ship heading for the planet Woden. Barton discovers Marilyn who is a young girl and a stowaway who boarded the ship in hopes to see her brother. Barton tell her that by her being on the ship they are over the ships weight limited and that could cause the ship to crash, Marilyn call her brother for the last time and she is ejected into space.

  8. During this lecture we continued to discuss the golden age of science fiction. We learn about Robert A. Heinlein; he began writing science fiction in 1939 in John W Campbells Astounding magazine. His work consisted of six main characteristics, first being the idea of future history. It was a different method of storytelling; it is laid out diagrammatically and describes a projected future of humanity. The second characteristic is the implementation of hard science. He put a lot of effort into incorporating real proven scientific facts in his writing, after all, he did study physics during his education years. The third characteristic being his self-assured writing style, he didn’t waste time explaining certain topics dealing with science and technology. He assumes that the readers reading his stories have read other science fiction works and have a pretty good idea of these topics. The fourth characteristic is didactic father figures, essentially father figures who teaches and guides. The fifth characteristics is politics, Heinlein’s interest in politics and discussions come out in his stories. The final characteristic is sexuality, he writes about sex a lot. We discuss one of Heinlein’s short stories that we had read for class called, “All You Zombies”. It was his last short story, issued in 1959, before he moved onto novels. This short story dealt with time travel, sex, and mixed genders. It is a paradox in which the characters Jane, the unmarried mother, and the bartender is one giant time loop, that they are all the same person in different points of their life. The second reading we had, was Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations”. It is a story that takes place in the future about a young woman secretly boarding a medical spaceship as a stowaway in the hopes that she can visit her brother on a different planet where the ship is headed. The themes of this story are hard science, technology, and rationality. The problem that arises is that the ship only has enough fuel for a six-person crew in order to reach their destination. Once the crew discovers that there is a stowaway on the ship, they realize that their mission to supply medical serums to the destination planet, Woden, may be compromised resulting in the deaths of many people who can’t get the serum. The leader of the crew has a decision to make, keep her on and hope that the ship makes it to the planet which is highly unlikely or eject her out into space which ultimately kills her. This is where the rationality theme come into play, the leader knows that they cannot deviate from the plan that has already been set in motion, there is no changing of the rules of mathematics and science. Once the ship took off, it can only follow one plan, and that plan is to take a ship with medical supplies and a six-person crew to its destination. There is no accommodation for a seven-person crew, so the solution was to jettison the young girl, to sacrifice one life for many others.

  9. In this lecture, we continued to discuss The Golden Age of Science Fiction. We learned about Robert A. Heinlein(1907-1988) who attended the University of Missouri and served as a naval officer for five years. Heinlein began to publish SF in 1939 and won four Hugo awards for the best novel during his writing career. The Characteristics of Heinlein’s work were: Future History, Hard SF, Self- Assured Writing Style, Didactic Father Figures, Political, and Sexuality. Furthermore, Heinlein had many significant pieces beginning with “By His Bootstraps”(1941), “Waldo”(1942), “Starship Troopers”(1959), Strangers in a Strange Island”(1961), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress(1966) and Time Enough for Love(1973). Also, we discussed the story, “All You Zombies” by Robert Heinlein. It was published in March 1959 and it was Heinlein’s final short story. An interesting part of the story is the same characters play all the roles and intersex is a big theme. The story is about a person who due to being intersex and given access to time travel technology becomes their own father and mother. A few key terms from “All You Zombies” include Sex which is defined as the biology of reproduction, generally meaning male or female. Also, Transgender is another term important to the story, which means to have a psychological identity where your biological sex or sex expression doesn’t match what one believes their gender to be. Some Transgender people include Christine Jorgenson(1926-1989) who was the first widely known recipient of sexual reassignment surgery in the United States. Also, Roberta Cowell(1918-2011) first British citizen to be a recipient of sexual reassignment surgery. Both Christine Jorgenson and Roberta Cowell transitioned from Male to Female. Lastly, David Reimer(1965-2004) is another key figure to transgender awareness. We discussed Tom Godwin(1915-1980) who was a writer of the Campbellian and Astounding traditions. Godwin published about 30 stories in his career. Godwin was the writer of “The Cold Equations”, that was published in August 1954 issue of Astounding and it was considered Hard SF. The story confronts the reality of the cold equations of natural law.

  10. I felt this lecture to be a sort of part two to our “Weird Science Fiction” lecture we had. We learned a bit about Robert A. Heinlein, a Science Fiction author who started publishing around 1939. He became a very well know Science Fiction writer due to his weird and crazy writing style. A lot of his stories included Future History, Self Assured writing styles, politics and sexuality. We learned about these things really meant and how Robert slowly incorporated all these things into some of his Science Fiction stories. “All You Zombies” was his last story he wrote before dying. This specific story is ahead of it’s time for a fact, since it talks very heavely on sex, intersex, transgender people and just about genders overall, many topics that are hugely controversial today in our current times. During the lecture, we got into what transgender people went through during this time period. Compared to how things are today when it come to the LGBTQ Community, things back then were very rough for transgenders. A story like this, as I said before, really seems to be ahead of time. Things were very different back then and bringing up a topic surrounding any of the things Robert wrote about would always get frowned upon, but luckily, we already had Robert A. Heinlein to talk about this with everyone reading his Science Fiction stories

  11. The eighth lecture was the second part of the “Golden Age of SF” and it started with the discussion of Robert A. Heinlein, one of the writes we read for the week. He had six characteristics with his style of writing which were future history, hard science, self-assured writing style, didactic father figures, political, and sexuality. Then his major works of writing were discussed. What is interesting about his writing like some of the other former writers is that he has a background studying the sciences such as physics. In the short story we read for this week “All You Zombie” I must admit fallowing the main characters role and the position in time was a little challenging to fallow as I read. The diagram sort of is helpful, but I’m not sure I completely grasped who was what to whom.
    Then we covered our next reading and the writer of this short story Tom Godwin who wrote “The Cold Equations.” It is interesting that though his life was full of trials he still tried to write a positive ending to this short story, and yet Campbell the publisher of “Astounding” who also has a background in physics makes him rewrite the ending to be more probable to reality. This to me show this distinction between the art of writing and the scientific approach to telling a story. I personally think I prefer the logical outcome though it be depressing at times to the fanciful outcome in a story. As far as an attempt to rewrite a positive outcome I am not sure I see one as well other than the initial avoidance thorough safety measures guarding these vessels if there are such harsh protocols that need to be had.

  12. In this session we continued with the Golden Age of SF and spoke about other interesting people such as Robert A Heinlein (1907-1988). He was educated in the University of Missouri as well as the U.S Naval Academy. He later studied physics after he was discharged for tuberculosis after five years of service. He began publishing works in 1939 and became one of the first grandmasters of SFUA. Heinlein has drawn many significant and important works such as “By his bootstraps” and “Waldo”. Another story like “All You Zombies” which was published in 1959 in the magazine Fantasy and Science fiction. This story deals with the effects of time travel as well as culturally relevant topics like sex and Gender. The story speaks of time travel as a necessity to keep certain events that are immensely destructive from happening in certain ways. Jane was born in an orphanage and later joined the wenches with a dream that her child would have dad and a mom. Later Jane becomes pregnant and is found out to be intersex having both male and female organs both immature and to properly give birth had to have a C-section. Her female parts were unfortunately removed, and her baby was stolen that being her. Throughout the story you can see agents manipulating the course of events to get her to this point. The other novel we had to read was “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin (1915-1980). The story revolves around the limits of science and the restraints it creates leading to some cold and callus choices. For example, the necessary decision to eject the stowaway girl into space.

  13. This lecture focused on the shift of the SF genre from low-brow to a more sophisticated style. I noticed the difference from works earlier in the semester to the more recent works that are more in depth, and focused with a more cohesive plot. In earlier stories I noticed certain themes that would appear in other current tv shows. They were presented more satirically and almost poked fun the the campy nature of the writing in earlier SF. Works such as “All You Zombies” and ” The Cold Equations” showed a writing style that weighs the implications of the characters actions and the morality of them as well as the effects on others. “All You Zombies” even managed to deal with a complex topic like gender identity. The “Golden Age” of SF was ahead of its time adressing an issue which other forms of media still struggle to tackle.

  14. Lecture 8 is the second part of the lecture on the Golden Age of SF (1938-1946). Discussed were the contributions to the genre of the well-known writers Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) and Tom Godwin (1915-1980). The assigned readings, All you Zombies, by Heinlein, and “The Cold Equations”, by Godwin, were also discussed and analyzed.

    Heinlein was an influential SF writer that won 4 Hugo Awards and was the 1st Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. The six main characteristics apparent in his writing were future history which diagrammatically explained the trajectory of his past, present, and future stories, hard SF which is defined by Allen Steele as, “hard SF is the form of imaginative literature that uses either established or carefully extrapolated science as its backbone”, self-assured writing which focused on people rather than gadgets and assumed that the reader already had a basic understanding of the science and technology in the story, didactic father figures that provided lessons and guidance to the character(s), politics including political conflicts and viewpoints, and sexuality expressed frankly including depictions of polyamory and incest. Some of Heinlein’s well-known works include ‘By His Bootstraps” (1941), Waldo (1942), Starship Troopers (1959), Stranger in a Strange Land (1961), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966), Time Enough for Love (1973), and the assigned reading for this week, All You Zombies (1959). All You Zombies is the story of a time-traveling intersex individual that is himself, his parents, and also the bartender. The story starts with two individuals (the man and the bartender) having a conversation that leads to a friendly wager and ends up with the bartender and the man traveling through time together. The ability to travel through time and the fact that the man was born as intersex allowed him to be both man and woman and perform the sexual functions of both at different points in time. I found the story interesting but a bit confusing because there is no way to determine in what order the events occurred.

    Tom Godwin was a fine writer of SF that published about 30 stories. He experienced hardships as a child and as a result, had to leave school while in the third grade. Godwin joined the military but had to end his career prematurely due to a condition of the spine known as Kyphosis which causes extreme outward curving of the spine leading to hunching of the back. Family issues coupled with his health issue led him to become an alcoholic later in life. Godwin wrote the well-known story “The Cold Equations” (1954). The story was published in Astounding Science Fiction and is considered to be the best example of Hard SF. In Hard SF while happy endings are possible, the plot and the ending are dependent on natural law and any constraints detailed in the story. This is apparent in “The Cold Equations”, a story about a young lady that stows away on a ship and ultimately loses her life because the pilot must follow protocol which requires that he eject the girl from the emergency transport vehicle to ensure the success of his mission. Allowing the girl to remain onboard would deplete the fuel supply prematurely due to the mass added by her presence. An equation that determines how much fuel is required based on the total mass is used to justify her removal. As I read the story I hoped that somehow a solution to the issue would be found but unfortunately that was not the case and the story ended with something shapeless and ugly heading toward Wohen.

  15. “The World Snake that eats its own tail, forever without end. A symbol of the Great Paradox” (p. 2).

    Robert A. Heinlein (1907 -1988) grew up in a poor family and earned his way to the U. S. Naval Academy, graduating in 1929. This upbringing had a unique effect on him instilling in him military values such as self-reliance and discipline. He was a Naval officer and a failed politician before he was a Science Fiction author. In direct opposition to that, he was also an individualist and a libertarian. He was skeptical of authority and state power and favored freedom of action for individuals over a collective government or state control. He wished to maximize political freedom and autonomy by emphasizing freedom of choice, voluntary action, and individual judgement.

    Heinlein’s writing style had six key characteristics. His stories were those of future history, a technique that he helped pioneer, in which an author uses the current state of the world to speculate and predict a timeline that leads to their postulated future. Heinlein mapped out the future and told stories of tomorrow using the social commentary of his day. His stories are some of the few that can truly be labeled as Hard Science Fiction, a category of SF in which an author uses established or careful extrapolated and sound scientific and engineering principals as the foundation for their writings. Heinlein had a self-assured writing style, he blended slang, aphorism, technical jargon, clever understatements, and apparent casualness. He concentrated on the individuals instead of the technology to help create a sense that the worlds that he wrote about were real. He expected his readers to be smart enough to understand his concepts. Heinlein’s stories often had didactic father figures, who teach or guide the protagonist, and usually took on the voice of Heinlein himself. Political conflicts & viewpoints were also often a theme of Heinlein stories. The final characteristic of Heinlein stories is sexuality, which he spoke about in a direct manner sometimes addressing the most taboo of topics such as polyamory and even incest.

    All You Zombies is a science fiction short story that was published in the March 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The story tackles the science fiction concept of time travel and the paradoxes that accompany it. The plot revolves around a person who through being intersexed and having access to time travel technology via their job at the Temporal Bureau, a time-traveling police force, becomes their own mother and father. The three main characters of the story happen to be the same person at different times and as different sexes pre and post sex reassignment surgery.

    On September 20, 1945, the narrator, a bartender, leaves a baby named Jane at an orphanage. He then takes a man who calls himself an “Unmarried Mother” to April 3, 1963. Unmarried Mother gets a then 17-year-old Jane pregnant and disappears from her life. Following her baby’s birth, Jane learns that she is intersex and has been giving sexual reassignment surgery effectively changing her sex to male. On March 10,1964, the bartender kidnaps Jane’s baby from the hospital nursery and takes the child back in time to September 20, 1945 and leaves it at an orphanage. On November 7, 1970, the bartender meets Unmarried Mother (Jane after baby’s birth and sexual reassignment surgery) and takes him back to 1963 to get revenge on the man who got him pregnant as a 17-year-old girl. On August 12, 1985, the Bartender retrieves Unmarried Mother from 1963 and enlists him (actually a younger version of the bartender himself) into the Temporal Bureau. The bartender has just successfully created and recruited himself.

    On January 12, 1993, the Bartender returns to the Temporal Headquarters and lies down in his bed thinking about his life as Jane, the mother, the father, and the Unmarried Mother. He examines the scar that he has from his C section and says “I know where I came from—but where did all you zombies come from? (p. 13) Here zombies is referencing the rest of the humans of the world, who are unsure of their origins. The Bartender knows that he created himself, but what about the rest of the world? Where did they come from? Who created them? If the answer is their parents, then who created their parents and grandparents and so on and so forth. Heinlein’s All You Zombies evokes a feeling of solipsism, the view that the self is all that can be known to exist.

    “I didn’t do anything to die for” (p. 16).

    “A cold equation had been balanced” (p. 16).

    Tom Goodwin (1915 – 1980) was an American Science Fiction author who dropped out of school in third grade and went on to publish about 30 stories including three novels, despite being an alcoholic. His Science Fiction short story The Cold Equations, published in the August 1954 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, is a prime example of Hard Science Fiction. It takes place in a future where the development of the hyperspace drive has led to galactic expansion and mankind has been spread “wide across the frontier” (p. 1) effectively colonizing space and its planets. When a planet has a crisis, an Emergency Dispatch Ship or EDS is quickly sent off to deliver the needed medical supplies as soon as possible.

    These situations produce a deadline that must be met so the design of the EDS does everything possible to maximize speed. They are piloted by one person and are “small… collapsible… occupy little room… made of light metals and plastics… driven by a small rocket that consumes relatively little fuel” (p. 1). Computers determine the exact amount of fuel an EDS needs to land safely at its destination by calculating the coordinates, mass of the ship, mass of the lone pilot, and the mass of the cargo. Nothing and no one else is permitted aboard since the computer’s calculations are precise and accurate, and the EDS carries only the exact amount of fuel required for the mission. There is no additional or emergency fuel and zero leeway when it comes to additional mass.

    The entirety of The Cold Equations takes place aboard one of these Emergency Drop Ships. The pilot, Barton, has just enough fuel to land and deliver much needed medical supplies to the colonists of Woden when he realizes that there is a stowaway hiding somewhere amongst his vessel. Barton knows that it is the law that any stowaway aboard an EDS is to be jettisoned from the airlock immediately upon their finding for their additional mass would cause the ship to run out of fuel after entering Woden’s atmosphere causing it to plunge thousands of feet to the ground. He prepares himself to jettison the man he expects to find hiding in the closet, only to realize that it is not a man, but an 18-year-old girl named Marilyn Lee Cross.

    Marilyn’s motives for hiding in the EDS were innocent enough for she had learned that it was going to Woden, where her brother who she had not seen in 10 years lives. Being from Earth, she did realize that the laws of the space frontier were harsh and relentless, leaving zero room for error. Not wanting to kill this young girl, Barton calls his commander who apologetically informs Barton that there was no alternate course of action. The girl’s added mass would cause the ship to crash land on Woden resulting in the deaths of her, Barton, and the people of Woden waiting for the medical supplies. Barton had no choice. He would “have to go through with it” (p. 5).

    Marilyn is horrified when she learns that her actions will lead to her death and pleads with Barton to let her live. However, there was not another cruiser that could pick her up within forty light years of their position and the EDS had “barely enough fuel to reach their destination” (p.6) Barton explains to her that he does not wish to kill her but the laws of space are rigid and he has no other choice. “Nobody wants it this way; nobody would ever let it be this way if it was humanly possible to change it.” (p. 6) Marilyn realizes that there is no hope for her. She could allow herself to be jettisoned ending her life or she could stay aboard the ship and be the cause of seven more deaths. “There isn’t enough fuel for me to stay” (p. 8).

    Marilyn’s line and the name of the story refer to the equations and physical laws regarding the travel of EDS ships which state “the amount of fuel will power EDS with mass of m safely to its destination… the amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x safely to its destination” (p. 8). The equation was a law of the space frontier that allowed no margin for error and no amount of human decency or care in the entire universe could defy or deviate from these laws. Barton and Marilyn both knew what must be done.

    Marilyn had one hour before she would have to be ejected from the ship’s airlock to ensure a safe landing. Barton reflects on the irrevocable and immutable laws of nature and how “men could learn to use them, but men could not change them” (p. 10). To the laws of nature Marilyn was simply “x” an unwanted number added to an already fixed equation. All options had been exhausted and there was simply no way around the space law regarding additional mass on an EDS. Barton allows Marilyn to write letters to her mother and father and radios Woden and get in contact with her brother about 20 minutes before she is to be jettisoned from the ship. She says her heartbreaking goodbye to her brother and then willingly steps into the airlock of the ship with time to spare. Barton pulls the lever, the airlock door opens, and space sucks Marilyn out into the abyss where she would die seconds later if not instantly.

  16. In this lecture we continued our discussion on the golden age of science fiction. Beginning with Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) and Tom Godwin. Robert A. Heinlein (1915-1980).
    Robert A. Heinlein began to publish science fiction in 1939 in John W. Campbell Jr’s Astounding Science Fiction magazine. He was a significant writer equal to John W. Campbell Jr. The characteristics of his works include: Future history, hard science fiction, self-assured writing styles, didactic father figures, political situations, and sexuality. We discussed one of his works named: “All You Zombies”, published in the March 1959 issue of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (F&SF for short). The story is a based on a person who due to being intersex and given acces to time travel technology become their own father and mother. Thus all the characters featured in this story are the same character but at different ages in time. His other works include “By His Bootstraps” (1941), “Waldo” (1942), “Starship Troopers” (1959), “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961), “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” (1966), and “Time Enough for Love” (1973).
    Tom Godwin was a writer of the Campbellian and Astounding traditions but only published about 30 stories. His work included “The Cold Equations” published in the August 1954 issue of Astounding. This was considered the best example of hard science fiction as it confronts the reality of the cold equations of natural law. The story concerns a distant planet in need of emergency supplies. A cruiser sends out an EDS or Emergency Dispatch Ship to deliver these supplies to the planet. The ship only has enough fuel to travel to the planet with the supplies and the lone pilot. A teenage girl hides on the ship hoping to reach the planet to take to her brother on the designated planet. When discovered, the pilot follows protocol and ejects her off the ship due to the excess mass she brings. After letting the girl speak to her brother on the communicator, she is ejected off the ship via airlock

  17. Lecture 8 was a continuation of the Golden Age of Science Fiction. We covered Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) who was an important SF writer who won 4 Hugo Awards. Heinlein had 6 important characteristics to his work, which were:

    1. Future history, which maps out what has yet to come
    2. Hard Science, a form of imaginative literature that uses sciences such as biology, chemistry, and physics as it’s backbone
    3. Self-assured writing style, he describes things in an assertive, straight to the point way and assumes the reader is smart enough to know how things work
    4. Contains a didactic father-figure, there is a male character that acts as a teacher or guide
    5. Political viewpoints, such as right-wing party and anarchism
    6. Sexuality, he was not afraid to discuss taboo topics like polyamory and incest

    Aside from “All You Zombies,” Heinlein had other significant works of SF. Stories like “By His Bootstraps,” which was published under his pseudo name in 1941, “Waldo” (1942), “Starship Troopers” (1959) which won a Hugo Award in 1960 and was also turned into a Hollywood film, “Stranger in a Strange Land” (1961), which also won a Hugo Award in 1962, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” where the well-known quote, “no such thing as free lunch” is from and “Time Enough for Love” (1973) which won a Hugo in 1974.

    Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” published in the March 1959 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction, tells a story of an intersex character who travels in time using a machine and becomes their own parents. The story follows the same character throughout different times, as different genders and at different stages of their life. Prior to writing Zombies, Heinlein acclimated himself to several transgender persons and their lives to learn more about the topic. Several concepts and terms are discussed in the story, such as ouroboros (the serpent eating its tail, representing self-reflexivity), solipsism (we are only able to be sure of our own mind/identity), zombie, and jukebox (in this specific reference, the song “I’m My Own Grandpa” plays which tells a similar story).

    Science Fiction writer, Tom Godwin (1915-1980) was also discussed during this lecture. Godwin, who left school in the 3rd grade had published roughly 30 stories. He is described as a hunchback and an alcoholic. His short story “Cold Equation” was first published in the 1954 edition of Astounding Magazine. It was inspired by two pieces of literature: “Precedent” by EC Tubbs and the comic book “Awaiting Decisions” by Feldstein. “Cold Equation” takes aboard an Emergency Dispatch Ship that sets out to deliver medical supplies to another planet. The plot is essentially the EDS’s pilot, named Barton finds a stowaway on board, a girl who is looking to reach her brother on the planet the EDS is flying to. The stowaway disregards the warning signs about unauthorized personnel, thinking it would lead to a mere fine and finds out the hard way the ship is only able to hold a specific weight or else it would crash. The story uses “hard sciences” to explain the physics and engineering of the ship.

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