Assignment: Lecture 13 on Cyberpunk

Greetings, all! I hope that you’re all doing well and ready to have a successful close to the spring semester!

In the lecture above, I begin by recapping the final assignments in the class. Watch it and listen carefully to make sure that you don’t miss anything. For posting your research project, you will need to check out this post and video. For completing the final exam, you will need see this post. For submitting your notebook, you will need to scan/photograph the pages of your notes and email them to me (jellis at Everything in the class comes due at the end of the day at midnight on Wednesday, May 20. If you find that you need more time on something, email me BEFORE then so that we can develop a plan together as I have to submit grades shortly after our class ends and I don’t want to receive something unexpected days after the class has ended. The key thing to remember is keep me in the loop and we can work together to get you through the class successfully!

Then, I talk about cyberpunk, William Gibson, Pat Cadigan, Bruce Sterling, and The X-Files.

I’m sorry that this concluding lecture in the class couldn’t have been in person. I’ve brought show and tell with the old computers on occasion, and I’ve brought LEGO on others. When we have a handle on COVID-19 and the campus reopens, please stop by my office to check in and let me know how you’re doing. Even after our class is over, I’m happy to help you all out with feedback, advice, letters of recommendation, etc. Never sell yourselves short. Go big. Seek out opportunities to learn as much as you can, and gain as much experience as you can. Things are more difficult than they were before the virus, so my recommendation is to redouble your efforts to rise above the crowd to achieve the success that you desire.

Assignment: Final Exam

Greetings, all!

I wanted to give you as much time as possible to work on your final exam in Science Fiction, so I am including it here on our OpenLab site now. I will discuss it along with all of the final projects in our class in next week’s lecture, and I will send a reminder about it to everyone in the class via email.

This is a take home exam. You should complete it alone using your notes.

Your final exam responses are due by midnight at the end of day on Wednesday, May 20.

If you have any questions, please email me at jellis at

Science Fiction Final Exam
Prof. Jason W. Ellis


• Answer the following questions as short paragraphs with complete sentences.
• Always include author birth/death dates and publication dates.
• You have a couple of ways to get your exam responses to me for grading:
1) Type your responses into a Word docx file and email it to me as an attachment. I will reply confirming receipt.
2) Write your responses by hand and send your responses to me as a scanned PDF or JPG images via email. Verify that your handwriting and the images are LEGIBLE before sending. I will reply confirming recipt.
3) Don’t post your exam responses on OpenLab. Send it to me at jellis at using one of the methods described above.

Exam Questions

  1. In 5-10 sentences, tell me who wrote Frankenstein, a brief summary of Frankenstein’s plot, why is Frankenstein considered the first example of SF, name the three key characters who are all scientists and explain why each is a “scientist.”
  2. In 2-4 sentences, tell me the name of the editor who launched the first SF magazine, the name of the first SF magazine, its month and year of launch, his name for science fiction and its three characteristics.
  3. In 1-2 sentences, name the Golden Age editor of Astounding, give his birth/death years, and list his four rules of good SF.
  4. For the following Golden Age stories, write 2-4 sentences for each including the name of the author, birth/death years, the publication date of the story, and its summary:
    a. “Reason”
    b. “The Fireman”
    c. “–All You Zombies”
    d. “The Cold Equations”
  5. In 2-4 sentences, name the director of the film Forbidden Planet, give the year that it was released, name the film production company, summarize the film, and explain the significance of the id, ego, and superego to its story.
  6. In 1-2 sentences, name the editor of New Worlds magazine who inaugurated New Wave SF, give his birth year, and list the five characteristics of New Wave SF.
  7. For the following New Wave stories, write 2-4 sentences for each including the name of the author, birth/death years, the publication date of the story, and its summary:
    a. “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman” (include the title of the famous book he edited)
    b. “The Electric Ant” (include a list of characteristics of his works, too)
    c. “Aye, and Gomorrah…”
  8. In 2-4 sentences, name the creator of Star Trek, give his birth/death years, give its original air dates, list its six characteristics, name the episode that we saw for class, and summarize the story.
  9. In 1-2 sentences, define feminist SF and list its six characteristics.
  10. For the following feminist SF stories, write 2-4 sentences for each including the name of the author, birth/death years, the publication date of the story, and its summary:
    a. “The Women Men Don’t See”
    b. “Nine Lives”
    c. “Speech Sounds”
  11. In 1-2 sentences, define afrofuturism and list its three characteristics.
  12. In 2-3 sentences, define cyberpunk and list its five characteristics; name who wrote “Burning Chrome,” give his birth year, give the story’s year of publication, and summarize the story.

Bonus (+1): In 1-2 sentences, tell me which semester reading you enjoyed most. Explain why.

Bonus (+1): In 1-2 sentences, tell me which semester reading you enjoyed least. Explain why.

Assignment: Lecture 12 on Feminist SF and Afrofuturism

Here’s the penultimate (next to last) lecture in our Science Fiction class. It’s on Feminist SF and Afrofuturism, and it picks up the omitted reading from our last lecture by James Tiptree, Jr.

Apologies for the video being cropped. I didn’t realize until after I had recorded the hour long lecture that it cropped my screen’s resolution. I reviewed it and don’t think it is too detrimental. Listen to what I’m talking about and you can look up some of the images and details that are cut off from the video.

As a reminder, the last day of class is Wednesday, May 20. All assignments will be due by midnight that day. This includes your:

  • research essay
    • posted to OpenLab
    • directions included in the lecture 11 post last week)
  • weekly summaries
    • posted to OpenLab as comments on each “Assignment: Lecture” post
  • notebooks
    • email a scanned PDF or photos of each page as JPGs to jellis at
    • I will reply with confirmation
  • final exam
    • I will email the take-home final exam to everyone next week and post a copy on our OpenLab site.
    • Read the directions carefully.
    • Please write your answers to each question in your own words.
    • There are several ways to submit your exam to me via email at jellis at–I will confirm receipt
      • Write your answers into a Word docx file and attach it to an email
      • Write your answers into a Word docx file and copy-and-paste your answers into an email
      • Handwrite your answers on notebook paper and scan your responses into a PDF attached to an email

Assignment: Lecture 11 on New Wave SF (continued) and Star Trek

Here’s the eleventh lecture, which continues New Wave SF with Samuel R. Delany and the original Star Trek series. Write a comment on this post by Wed, May 6 that is at least 250 words long summarizing the lecture, your reading of Samuel R. Delany’s “Aye, and Gomorrah,” and viewing of Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever.” While I asked you to read James Tiptree, Jr.’s “The Women Men Don’t See,” you may include it in this summary or hold it for the following week’s assignment when I lecture on it and Feminist SF (I wanted you to read ahead so that we could keep things on track). Email me at jellis at or come to my Wed 5-6pm office hours with questions.

Assignment: Posting Your Final Research Essay

You’ll want to submit your final research essay as a post to our OpenLab site by the end of the day of the last day of class on May 20. You’re welcome to turn it in early, too. If something comes up to prevent you from turning it on time, please drop me an email letting me know what’s going on and when you think that you can submit your work.

Below, I’m including a video demonstrating how to post your research essay to our OpenLab site. Further below, I have a set of screenshots that highlight the main points that I talk about in the video.

Screencast Showing How to Publish Your Research Essay to Our OpenLab Site

Steps for Publishing Your Research Essay to Our OpenLab Site

First, login to OpenLab. Then, navigate to our OpenLab site. Next, mouseover the plus and click on Post.
Add a check mark next to "Student Research Essay" under Categories.
Click in "Add title" and add your title and byline. Then, click in "Start writing" and paste your research essay from your word processor here.
In your essay, remember to center your title following your MLA name block and center the "Works Cited" title at the end of your essay.
Click Publish and then click Publish again to publish your work to our OpenLab site. Navigate back to our OpenLab site to confirm that it is in fact published.

Assignment: Lecture 10 on New Wave Science Fiction

Lecture 10 on New Wave Science Fiction, Harlan Ellison, and Philip K. Dick is embedded above. Write your own notes into your notebook for the lecture and your readings of Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman!” and Dick’s “The Electric Ant.” Then, add a comment to this post of at least 250-words summarizing the lecture and your readings before Wednesday, April 29.

Keep track of the lectures and readings. You can check the Dashboard > Comments on our site to see if you’ve missed any 250-word summaries. If you have, get them done and send me an email letting me know which ones you’ve caught up on.

As I’ve said before, this is a challenging time that we find ourselves in right now. To be a successful student with distance learning requires tremendous self-discipline. I know that you all can do it, but depending on your circumstances, it can take more or less conscious effort on your part.

If you haven’t reached out to me yet about your research essay, please send me an email to jellis at with your plan. I’ll reply with some feedback and advice.

I will have my weekly office hours via Google Hangouts on Wednesday, April 22 between 5-6pm. I’ll post an announcement beforehand with the link. Email me if you need to talk at a different day/time.

If you’ve seen the film Galaxy Quest, you know the catchphrase: “Never give up! Never surrender!”

Assignment: Lecture 9 on Science Fiction Film through the 1950s and Forbidden Planet

For this week’s class, we’re turning our attention to Science Fiction Film through the 1950s and Forbidden Planet. Before Wednesday, April 22, watch the lecture and Forbidden Planet, and post a comment here of at least 250-words summarizing both.

Remember to email me at jellis at with your research essay project ideas and I’ll get back to you with some helpful feedback.

Also, I will have office hours on Wednesday between 5-6pm on Google Hangouts. I’ll post a link to our OpenLab site beforehand.

Stay well and good luck!

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

Assignment: Lecture 7 on the Golden Age of SF

Greetings, all!

I wanted to post our next lecture on the Golden Age of SF a few days early to give everyone more lead time to watch, make notes, and before Wednesday, Apr. 1, post a comment summarizing the lecture and the two readings for this week: Isaac Asimov’s “Reason” and Ray Bradbury’s “The Fireman.”

Also, I would like to receive a quick email from everyone as a kind of roll call. I’ll send the request via email, so please reply when you receive that message. You can just say “hi” or ask a question or let me know how you’re getting along. I would especially like to hear from folks having any kind of difficulty accessing OpenLab, the lecture videos, or keeping up with the readings. I want to help everyone stay on track as much as I can, but I need to hear from everyone–those who are handling the shift to distance learning okay as well as those who are encountering challenges.

My office hours this week will be via Google Hangout. I’ll post a link here before 5:00pm on Wednesday afternoon. You can reach me by email any time, and I can arrange separate Google Hangouts with video and/or voice by appointment–just email me with your availability for the week ahead.

Assignment: Lecture 6 and SF Film Serials

I’m posting a video of today’s lecture above. It begins with some information about City Tech and CUNY’s response to the coronavirus followed by a continuation of last week’s lecture on SF Film Serials. You can watch the SF film serials Flash Gordon by clicking here and Buck Rogers by clicking here. Watch a few of each to get a sense of what I discuss during lecture.

Due to the changes with the virus response, our next class will be on Mar. 25. I will provide everyone with an update about how we will conduct class online by early next week. In the meantime, you should write at least 250-words summarizing the SF-portion of my lecture above and what you watch of the SF film serials before Mar. 25.

If you didn’t turn in a physical copy of your notebook today, please scan it as a PDF and email it to me as an attachment before Mar. 18 so that I can include it in midterm grade calculations.

Read the posts below for additional information about the college’s response to the coronavirus. I will give you all information about how we will proceed as a class very soon.