Week 15

Greetings, all!

I want to wish you all the best of luck in our class, and your other classes, too!

Here are a few reminders to help you see our class through to completion:

  • All work is due by the end of the day on Wednesday, May 19.
  • The latest that I can receive your work is Tuesday, May 25 (email me by Wednesday, May 19 if you need this extra time).
  • Our last office hours will be on Wednesday from 3:00-5:00pm on Google Hangouts here.
  • Weekly Writing Assignments (add a comment to the appropriate post)
  • Final Notebook (scan your handwritten notes into a PDF and submit to Dropbox using this link)
  • Final Exam (scan your handwritten responses to these questions into a PDF and submit to Dropbox using this link)
  • Research Essay (create a Post on our OpenLab Course Site (see Week 14’s lecture for demo)

If you have any last minute questions, email me at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu.

Lecture, Week 14

In this week’s lecture, we covered:

  • Please remember to fill out SET
  • Lecture
  • Cyberpunk
  • Discuss Homework
  • Last Weekly Writing Assignment
  • Wrapping Up Assignments
  • Due Wed., May 19
  • Final Notebook (Dropbox)
  • Final Exam (Dropbox)
  • Research Essay (OpenLab Post)
  • Late work received until Tues., May 25

Where to Turn in Final Work in the Class:

Useful links discussed this week:

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 14

After watching this week’s lecture on Cyberpunk, and completing the assigned readings/viewings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

NB: This is the last Weekly Writing Assignment.

If you need to make any of these up, please do so and remember to email Prof. Ellis to check off your work.

Lecture, Week 13

  • Lecture
    • Feminist SF (cont.) and Afrofuturism
  • Discuss Homework
    • Readings and Weekly Writing
    • Research Essay, Final Exam, Notebooks, and Weekly Writing Assignments are due by Wednesday, May 19.
    • Last day to receive work is Tuesday, May 25, but consult with Prof. Ellis by email by May 19 if you need the extra time first.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 13

After watching this week’s lecture continuing Feminist SF and introducing Afrofuturism, and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Final Exam

This is the take-home final exam in the class. Read all of the directions and questions carefully before beginning.

  • Answer the following questions in complete sentences on your own paper.
  • Write your name at the top of your first page.
  • Always include author birth/death dates and publication dates where applicable.
  • After writing your exam by hand, scan the pages of your exam into a PDF using an app, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Apple Notes, etc., and then upload your final exam PDF to this Dropbox File Request: https://www.dropbox.com/request/dVVqVGeLcPydahnNcUO2.
  • This is due by Wednesday, May 19.
  • As discussed in the Week 13 lecture, email Prof. Ellis or stop by office hours if there is any concern on your part about needing more time on the exam or any other assignment by Wednesday, May 19.

  1. In 3-4 sentences, describe the historical events that made it possible for SF to emerge.
  2. 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 those characters who are all scientists and explain why each is a “scientist,” and finally, draw the narrative frames in Frankenstein and label each with the name of the person speaking/writing.
  3. In 2-4 sentences, tell me the three proto-SF writers discussed (but not read for class), and describe what each writer is most famous for.
  4. In 2-4 sentences, tell me who wrote The Time Machine, the name of the type of stories that he helped develop, the characteristics of that type of stories, and a brief summary of The Time Machine.
  5. In 2-4 sentences, tell me who wrote “The Machine Stops,” and a brief summary of the story.
  6. 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.
  7. In 2-3 sentences, tell me who wrote “Shambleau,” its year of publication, and what is the story about?
  8. In 2-3 sentences, tell me who wrote The Skylark of Space, Part 1, its month and year of publication, the title of the magazine it was published in, and its plot.
  9. In 3-4 sentences, tell me the four characteristics of SF film serials, the name of the film series that we watched in class, the year it was released, and its plot.
  10. In 1-2 sentences, name the Golden Age editor of Astounding, give his birth/death years, and list his four rules of good SF.
  11. 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”
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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…”
  15. 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 in class, and summarize the story.
  16. In 1-2 sentences, define feminist SF and list its six characteristics.
  17. 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”
  18. In 1-2 sentences, define Afrofuturism and list its three characteristics.
  19. In 4-6 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; and name the writers of the television episode “Kill Switch,” name the series it belongs to, name the series’ creator, give the episode’s broadcast year, and describe how the episode is an example of cyberpunk.

Bonus (+1): In 1-2 sentences, write your own definition of Science Fiction in your own words.

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.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 12

After watching this week’s lecture on Feminist SF and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 11

After watching this week’s lecture on New Wave SF and Star Trek and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Extra Credit: Literary Arts Festival video

If you couldn’t make it to the Literary Arts Festival last week but would like to earn the extra credit, you may watch the ~2 hour long event video above, write 250-words about your experience (who did you hear speak? whose work resonated with you? what did you take away from the event?), and email your response to Prof. Ellis (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu).

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 10

After watching this week’s lecture on New Wave SF and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 9

After watching this week’s lecture on the Golden Age of SF, Part 2 and completing the assigned readings and viewings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes and copy-and-paste your summary into a comment made to this post. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Extra Credit: Literary Arts Festival

If you’d like to earn extra credit to apply toward a Weekly Writing Assignment or points to another assignment as needed, you can attend the Literary Arts Festival next week, write at least 250 words describing your experience of the event (naming the people you listened to, what you learned and liked, etc.), and email your event write-up to me at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu.

To attend the event, you will need to register at this website in advance to receive the Zoom Webinar link.

Lecture, Week 8

After watching and making your notes on this week’s lecture on the Golden Age of SF, John W. Campbell, Jr., Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, scroll down to this week’s Weekly Writing Assignment, which is due by Wed., April 7 after Spring Recess.

Due to a meeting conflict, I won’t have office hours on Wednesday from 3:00-5:00pm, but I am available to talk over email (jellis at citytech.cuny.edu) or by appointment (email me with your availability over the next few days and we’ll coordinate a time when we can talk on Google Hangouts or Zoom).

Below, I’m including some links discussed in this week’s lecture:

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 8

After watching this week’s lecture on the Golden Age of SF and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

As discussed in this week’s lecture, it’s time to up your game on these regular writing assignments. In particular, use correct spelling and accurate dates for the names of writers and publications. If you are unsure of a spelling, refer back to the lecture or use the Encyclopedia of SF as an invaluable reference.

And, as I’ve talked about before, read what others are writing about and feel welcome to respond to the writing of others. Since we can’t interact in class as we normally would, you may use the comments as a place to share ideas and interests.

Finally, this week’s assignment isn’t due until Wednesday, Apr. 7 since next week is Spring Recess.

Lecture, Week 7

This week, we talked about SF Film Serials, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon. I am including some links below to the works that I showed or mentioned during the lecture.

Besides the library’s resources and the list of SF Definitions linked on the syllabus, use your free New York Times digital subscription as a resource in your research.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 7

After watching this week’s lecture on SF Film Serials, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon, and completing the assigned viewings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

I don’t want anyone to feel that they can’t catch up in our class. If you get behind, let me know over email, and when you turn in an assignment late, send me an email to let me know to grade it for you. While the end of the semester is the hard deadline for everything in the class, you may turn any work in up to that point to receive credit. Remember: it’s always better to turn in something rather than nothing!

Midterm Grades

I wanted to give you all a heads-up that your midterm grades are now available on our OpenLab Course Site. Click on the Gradebook link on the left side to see your midterm grade. This is only an indication of how you are doing in the class. It doesn’t average into your final grade. I looked at your participation on the Weekly Writing Assignments and other work so far this semester. Midterm grades are: Passing, Borderline, and Unsatisfactory. If you received Borderline or Unsatisfactory, there’s still plenty of time to turn that around and earn a good grade in the class. If you have any questions or need some extra support, remember to email me or come to my office hours on Wednesdays from 3-5pm.

Extra Credit Opportunity: Eagle-Con, Mar. 11-13

Eagle-Con 2021 logo

If you’d like to earn extra credit that can take the place of a Weekly Writing Assignment or be applied to a larger assignment, register for a free pass to this year’s Eagle-Con, attend at least one session on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and email Prof. Ellis at least 250-words about what went on and your experience at the virtual convention.

Eagle-Con is a science fiction convention held annually at Cal State LA, but the pandemic moved the event online this year making it easier for those of us on the east coast to participate. Renowned SF writer Nnedi Okorafor and Star Trek actor George Takei will be there receiving special awards. The full schedule of events is linked below.

Eagle-Con 2021 will be held virtually on Thursday, March 11 (10am-5:30pm); Friday, March 12 (10am-4:30pm); and Saturday, March 13 (9:20am-4:00pm).

Our special guest on Thursday is writer Nnedi Okorafor (the Binti trilogy, Black Panther: Long Live the King), who will be awarded the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Award.

On Friday, legendary actor and activist George Takei (Star Trek, They Called Us Enemy) will be given the Prism Award for outstanding contributions to diversity in science fiction across media.

Our special guest Saturday will be production designer Wynn Thomas (Mars Attacks, Hidden Figures) who will be presented the Imaginator Award for wondrous achievement in visual conceptualization.

Click here to view the full schedule.

Each of this year’s awardees have long been barrier breakers for other writers and artists, building impressively varied careers that have impacted millions in a manner that is at the heart of Eagle-Con’s mission.

Each day of the event will feature two exhibitions of artwork from our Founding Sponsor, Art Directors Guild (Local 800), that showcase the work of their members from your favorite science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies and television shows.

Eagle-Con’s mission is to educate Cal State LA students and members of the Greater Los Angeles community about the history, impact, and continued necessity of the contributions of women, BIPOC, the LGBTQIA-identified, the differently-abled, and the variously-aged to the science fiction and fantasy genres. Our 2021 event explores representations of diversity within these genres and furthers our efforts to provide opportunities for students to learn about these genres from artists, writers, and professionals working in southern California’s entertainment industries, network with these professionals, and imagine how they might one day join their ranks.

Click here to view the full schedule.

Sponsored by: Cal State LA University-Student Union, Art Directors Guild Local 800, and Cal State LA College of Arts & Letters.

Lecture, Week 6

This week’s lecture covers Pulp SF, E.E. “Doc” Smith, and C.L. Moore plus other writers from this era we couldn’t fit into the reading schedule. Watch this week’s lecture and then complete the Weekly Writing Assignment below. Also, if you haven’t uploaded your midterm notebook yet, please see the post from week 5 further down the page with instructions on getting that turned in.

Remember that I have office hours on Wednesday from 3-5 (link on the syllabus).

Email me with your questions or if you would like to setup an appointment to talk outside of my office hours.

Hang in there–we can make it through this all together!

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 6

After watching this week’s lecture on Pulp SF, Hugo Gernsback, E.E. “Doc” Smith, and C.L. Moore, and completing the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Also, don’t forget to upload your midterm notebooks. See the week 5 post below with instructions.

Lecture, Week 5

During this week’s lecture, I discuss the 19th century, proto-SF, and the assigned readings by H.G. Wells and E.M. Forster.

Remember to watch this week’s lecture before scrolling down to complete the following two homework posts: 1) submitting a PDF scan of your notebook for your midterm grade, and 2) completing the Weekly Writing Assignment.

Also, I will have office hours on Wednesday from 3-5pm. The Google Hangouts link is at the top of the syllabus.

Email me your research essay topics so that we can have a discussion about it. I want to ensure everyone has a good topic before diving into the project!

Midterm Notebooks Submission, Week 5

For your first big grade in the class, you need to create a PDF of your handwritten notebooks and submit them to Prof. Ellis. This counts as 20% of your grade, and it gives me a substantial amount of work on your part to calculate your midterm grade.

You may scan your notebook into a PDF using any software that you prefer. Some of the examples that I discussed as options in the lecture that are free to use with a smartphone running Android or iOS include:

After you have created a PDF of your notebook, you should open it and verify that it accurately shows the pages of your notebook that you want me to grade. Then, visit the following link to submit your work–click Add files > File from computer > Choose the PDF, then enter your name and email address, and click Upload. When you see the marathon runner image, you know that your upload was successful and your notebook has been submitted.

In all of my classes, I think it is vitally important for students to learn how to use these tools and technologies. This is building up your digital literacy while serving the practical purpose of getting your work to me in an asynchronous class setting.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 5

After making notes on this week’s lecture on Proto-SF, H.G. Wells, and E.M. Forster and the assigned readings, write at least 250 words summarizing your notes. Focus on what stands out to you, what were some of the important points that I made, what were interesting elements in the readings, connections between the readings and other SF that you know, etc. Remember, the weekly writing assignment is graded on best effort. I would like to know what you find notable about each week’s class. As long as the posts relate to the class and you give me your best, you receive all the credit. Also, this serves as regular writing practice, which has been shown to improve your writing skills by simply doing this kind of work. It will help prepare you for the writing that you will do on your research essay and the final exam.

Email Prof. Ellis with Your Research Topic

As discussed in the Week 4 Lecture, you should begin thinking about the work of Science Fiction that you want to write about for your Research Essay. While there is plenty of time for you to work on this before the end of the semester, I would like you to choose your topic sooner rather than later. Then, email me at jellis at citytech.cuny.edu with your topic, a short description of the question you want to investigate in your essay, and any questions you might have right now about the Research Essay. I will reply to everyone to give some feedback before you begin your research. This isn’t due this week, but you should email me as soon as you choose your topic so that you have as much time as possible to work on your Research Essay.

Weekly Writing Assignment, Week 4

This week, we completed our coverage of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Using your notes of this week’s lecture and your reading, write approximately 250 words summarizing and highlighting those points that stand out the most in your mind and in your notes.

After posting your response, take some time to read others’ responses. We can learn a lot from each other in this way.

If you have the time, comment or reply to those that correspond with your thinking or those you might disagree with. In all of our communications, remember to be professional, polite, and cordial. Also, be aware that communicating via writing can result in misunderstandings–always read your responses to yourself aloud before posting and think about what you write from other perspectives. These things will help you craft your responses to others online and avoid misunderstandings.

“Avengers Age of Ultron Vs Asimov” by Calliq

Calliq Eaddy 

Science fiction 

Professor Ellis 


Avenger’s age of Ultron and Asimov   

The advancement of technology is both something to look forward to but also something to fear. Science fiction is defined as “a type of book, film, etc. that is based on imagined scientific discoveries of the future, and often deals with space travel and life on other planets” (Oxford dictionary). The movie Avengers age of Ultron has many characteristics of science fiction such as advanced technology and the characters. There are many different types of SF which allows us to compare and contrast Avenger’s age of Ultron with the work of Asimov. 

Stann Lee, Joss Whedon, Jack Kirby and Zak Penn all contributed to the writing of Avengers Age of Ultron. The film was also solo directed by Joss Whedon himself. This movie is just one in a series of four with many sub movies that all contribute to the plot.  

Avengers Age of Ultron takes place in New York City and begins with Tony Stark, one of the lead protagonists has a vison of the future in which he sees all his friends lying down dead from an alien invasion. From the events of the first movie, he has been traumatized and anxious about an upcoming battle that has resulted in him devoting a lot of his time to preparing for the worst. Him fearing that he alone will not be able to keep everyone safe leads him to designing an artificial intelligence that he wants to help defend the planet. He states that by creating this artificial intelligence he visions “a suit of armor around the world.”(avengers) although his assistant helps him design the AI, he still opposes it as he notices that although it is not a human mind it is thinking. His fear eventually becomes reality as the AI Ultron, is developed it examines the past knowledge of human life and decides for itself that when you ignore the Outerspace threats, humans are the one causing the danger and that they’re not in need or worthy of protecting. Ultron states know you mean well, but you didn’t think it through. You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. How is humanity saved if it is not allowed to evolve? Look at these, these puppets. There is only one path to peace… The Avengers’ extinction.” (Fandom) The originally designed to be “peacekeeping program” turned against its creator and now seeks to destroy him and humanity. The new danger that Stark created leads to internal conflicts with all the members of the avengers as they believe tony is somewhat tyrannical as he often acts on his own like he did here without consulting with other members. 

Ultron tries to input his consciences into a stronger vessel to complete his plan of human extermination, but this plan is foiled by the avengers. They seize the new vessel and instead of destroying it Stark and his assistant try again to create the “peaceful program” (avengers) that Ultron was supposed to be. Although half of the avengers oppose awakening this body the other half proceeds anyways which results in a brawl. Eventually the body is awakened, and Vision is born. Vison then decides that he is “on the side of life” (avengers) meaning he will fight to protect humans and that Ultron must be destroyed. Ultron decides to go through with his plan of human extermination lifting up Sonovia then dropping it at a speed which will be catastrophic and result in global extinction. Using a flying aircraft carrier and help from vision the avengers are able to evacuate everyone Safley. Ultimately the avengers face of in battle against Ultron and rise victorious having saved the human race and averted disaster yet again. 

The dangers Ultron posed against humanity confirm the suspicions of the avengers. That having a powerful self-aware AI is too dangerous. Ultron multiplied and created a hivemind army that are all one. Life on earth was almost eradicated by this mechanical man. Although Stark was able to develop a robot (Vison) that fought for the sake of humanity, the danger outweighs to benefits as self-sufficient AI is too dangerous. This is going against Asimov’s three laws. Issaac Asimov was born January 2nd  1920 and died April 6th 1992. He pictured a world with human like robots that would serve humans. He designed three laws that would stop robots from revolting against humans like Ultron did. The first law was “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.” The second law was “A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.” And the third law is “A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.” (Beauchamp) In the movie we see the robots such as Ultron and Vison are self-aware and voided all off these laws as they have no moral obligation to follow them.  

In one of Issaac Asimov’s short story “Little Lost robot” he talks about the Frankenstein complex. The robots are all identical except for one as it has a weekend first law. This Robot goes into hiding as he is yelled at by Mr. Black who told the robot to lose himself. The robot sees this as an opportunity to learn, because that one robot has his first law removed, he is no longer obligated to protect humans as he hides amongst a crowd of normal robots who follow all three laws. When Dr.Susan conducts a test putting one human in danger to see which robots step forward, all of them do, even the one hiding amongst the crowd. The robot is learning and adapting to his situations. Another test is conducted in which the robots were in a situation where they would try to save a human from danger but if they went to the human a Eletric cable would result in their demise. Knowing this Dr.Susan assumed that the robots would proceed anyways and try to save the human but instead they made a choice that it was pointless for them to be destroyed when it was impossible for them to save the human. When asked if they all came up with this idea themselves the robot responded no, that another robot had come up with the idea while talking and told the others. When asked which robot had the idea the robot stated it did not know which robot had the idea. The robots are becoming smarter together and protecting each other. A final test is being conducted in which there is a killing ray and a gamma ray. Only the missing robot would be able to detect the difference in rays as he has trained in physics. During the testing only that robot moved, and he was discovered. He tried to explain his actions immediately until Mr. Black approached hostile and yelling. The robot immediately attacked and killed Mr. Black Infront of the other robots. 

This is where the term Frankenstein complex comes from. Asimov coins the term “Frankenstein complex” (Beauchamp) which refers to the fear that robots and artificial intelligence will turn against humanity. In the movie Avengers Age of Ultron, all the laws created by Asimov were broken just like the rouge robot from “Little Lost Robot.” Although the rouge robot in Little Lost Robot was only misunderstood as he was following orders Ultron believed himself to be superior to humans and wanted earth to rid of them. 

In the movie Avengers Age of Ultron, the main plot is about a battle between human’s vs rampant AI. This is following Asimov’s Frankenstein complex and serving as a warning for the future of technology. While both AI in the short story and the movie were acting on their own and not following the orders of their creator, they both had different reasoning. Ultron’s was more sinister as he planned for human extinction while the hiding robot from the short story only sought to follow his misunderstood orders. 

Work Cited: 

Whedon, Joss. Avengers: Age of Ultron. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2015. “Little Lost Robot” Isaac Asimov, March 1947 

BEAUCHAMP, GORMAN. “The Frankenstein Complex and Asimov’s Robots.” Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature, vol. 13, no. 3/4, 1980, pp. 83–94. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/24780264. Accessed 26 May 2021. 


Oxford Science Fiction Definition https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/science-fiction#:~:text=%E2%80%8Ba%20type%20of%20book,a2%2C%20Film%20and%20theatrea2 

Little Lost Robot – Asimov short story. (1962) 

Film of little lost robot 

“Castle in the Sky is a fantasy or Science Fiction?” by Shanyan Tan

Introduction to Castle in the Sky:

In our childhood, we all have our favorite moment in animated movie and this one was the one that changed the world in the late 1980. Which was a Japanese science fiction/ fantasy adventure anime movie from 1986 “Castle in the Sky”. The reason why I selected this movie because during my childhood period of them this movie’s title was extremely popular, and after I watched I felt this movie was very special to me all around. Many of people might think of this movie does not considered as science fiction because the castle was flying from the power of the blue crystal, and this can make it as a fantasy theme. However, I do think of this as a science fiction genre because in the movie director Hayao Miyazaki used some idea of how to make the castle flying in the sky, and those castle guardians robots are all made from the idea of science technology. So, this is the concept of science fiction in the movie. In development, the flying castle named “Laputa” was derived from Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels. In the movie, the fly city of Laputa was abandoned, all the race of Laputan had been moved to live in Earth, and the castle has turned into a ruined since then.

Story about Castle in the sky:

This film was set in a Victorian era that might have been and influenced by the visions of writers we had learned in class such as Jules Verne (1828-1905). As Pazu, the apprentice of the engineer who maintains a mine’s elevator machinery, carries his boss’s meatball dinner back to the mine, an unconscious pigtailed girl Sheeta floats down from the sky into Pazu’s arms. When she awakens the next day, she tells him that she is being chased by pirates and the government who are after her magical crystal necklace that is connected to the floating city of Laputa. and her magical levitation-stone pendant hold the key to a mysterious, mythical sky-castle known as Laputa. Sheeta and Pazu must flee from both air-pirates, who seek the sky kingdom for its legendary treasure, and the army of the castle, led by a government agent with his own mysterious agenda for Laputa. It’s now up to the two protagonists Pazu, and Sheeta to find the floating city before the Government and pirates can find them and unlock the secret of Laputa and Sheeta’s connection to the floating city.

Why Castle in the Sky is science fiction?

As for my deep passion that I have for this movie I had found some ideas from other writers. According to article “The City Ascends: Laputa: Castle in the Sky as Critical Ecotopia” from Imagetext, author Anthony Lioi said in the 2nd paragraph “In Laputa: Castle in the Sky, Miyazaki imagines a flying city in which nature and high technology live together in peace, a peace shattered by human violence. Though critics have made the connection between Laputa and Gulliver’s Travels, the immediate source for a science-island in the sky, few have connected Swift’s misanthropy with Miyazaki’s plot.” (Anthony 2).  From what Anthony Lioi had said about this movie’s source, I have a feeling that this movie has a depth of science fiction potential lays within it because director Hayao Miyazaki took the idea and place from a well-known classic novel to put into his first Studio Ghibli film. Some youngsters might think that this is a clear fantasy film because the reason how the castle is flying in the sky it was contains an immense of crystal to give the power to keep the castle city aloft. But in another hand, the guardians of the castle city are all highly advance robots with strong power, weapons, and the ability of power to fly in the air like Superman. Back from the quote, the normal life in the castle city was shattered due to the violence of mankind in the flying castle from their technology. In this point, it kind of indicate of how the power of high advance technology can destroy humanity, since everybody wants the higher power to use to control over everything.

In one of the movie’s magazine article “Amazing Anime Movies” written by Marissa Lieberman, she states that “They find out that the fabled floating castle, Laputa, is real and was once a thriving and powerful kingdom with vast wealth, technology, and robot warriors. On the run from the military and pirates, Pazu and Sheeta embark on their own quest to protect Laputa from falling into the wrong hands.” (Marissa 49). This quote of summary defines why people from the military and pirates is doing whatever it takes to take over the flying castle, and the two main protagonists in the movie Pazu and Sheeta must do everything they can to stop them. Simply say, the kingdom of Laputa has everything that anyone can imagine. Gold, for the people with greediness. Technology, and robot warriors is for the people who want to be king. The main villain in this movie, Colonel Muska (Romuska Palo UI Laputa) he has the bloodline of Laputan, he wants to gain back control of what belongs to him and his ancestor. But Sheeta (Princess Lucita Toel UI Laputa) disagree with his idea of madness because Sheeta thinks Laputan should live in the ground like everyone else. In the end, Sheeta activate the destruction spell of Laputa to cause the castle to disintegrate and give Colonel Muaka powerless. If Colonel Muaka can gain control to castle Laputa, I believe this will be danger and a threat to the people in the ground. 


In conclusion, Castle in the Sky is the land of the flying machines and is bigger than anything we can imagine on Earth. Not only the world is amazing, but even the characters are so special in compelling in appealing and fun to watch. The idea of the movie was first started off in fantasy concept then moving forwards into science fiction as we getting to know that flying castle a little more. I said this before, I do strongly agree that Castle in the Sky in a part of science fiction film, although it lives inside of a fantasy world, but what kept Laputa airborne is the technology within the castle. So this film has a bit of a mix of elements in both ways between fantasy and science fiction. Overall, I would call this a perfection.

Works Cited

Lieberman, Marissa. “Amazing Anime Movies. “School Library Journal, June 2018, pp. 48-52. “hey find out that the fabled floating castle, Laputa, is real and was once a thriving and powerful kingdom with vast wealth, technology, and robot warriors. On the run from the military and pirates, Pazu and Sheeta embark on their own quest to protect Laputa from falling into the wrong hands.” (Marissa 52)

Anthony Lioi. “The City Ascends: Laputa: Castle in the Sky as Critical Ecotopia” http://imagetext.english.ufl.edu/archives/v5_2/lioi/

Making of Castle in the Sky https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEmYNgus2os&t=42s

“Frankenstein, Novel to Film by Jorge Martinez”

Frankenstein is arguably one of the most recognizable and famous monsters created. It’s been adapted in more than seventy films. Although the creature was not named Frankenstein, he adopted the name by popular culture and he was considered to be Frankenstein’s monster. Frankenstein, or, Modern Prometheus 1818 written Mary Shelly (1797-1851) is considered the first example of SF. It’s the first novel to demonstrate a choice between pre-scientific and scientific. The story follows a young scientist who learns how to give life to inanimate matter. The first Frankenstein film was in 1910 directed by J. Searle Dawley. Although it was the first one, it was not the popular one. James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein had a big impact. This Frankenstein is the most known image of the monster in popular culture. From 1910 to the present time Frankenstein has been adapted in many films and cartoons. It gets you thinking how many times can this story be told. Hollywood loves to remake the same movie. So I compare and contrast Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel to 2015 film Victor Frankenstein.       

2015 Victor Frankenstein was directed by Paul McGuigan, written by Max Landis. The story is being told from Igor’s perspective. Victor’s assistant. Victor befriended Igor when he helped him save an aerialist. Igor impressed Victor with his knowledge of human anatomy. This is when Victor helps Igor’s posture and recruits him on his experiments of giving life to inanimate matter. Igor will help Victor’s experiment by performing the surgical parts. Victor will use parts from dead animals. The creature was named Gordon. This experiment will get Victor and Igor in trouble with the authorities. Gordon will escape and create a disaster in the university, ultimately being killed by Victor and Igor. Victor will get expelled from college. Being expelled Victor draws attention to a wealthy classmate Finnegan. Impressed by Victor’s experiment, Finnegan wants Victor to create another creature. This led Igor and Victor to create Prometheus. Finnegan will fund the build of Prometheus. While Igor and Victor are having a falling out, Victor departs solo to work on Prometheus and Igor learns Finnegan’s evil intentions with the creature and Victor. Igor will go and try to save Victor. The Prometheus experiment turned horrible. Prometheus had no awareness. It could not talk. Prometheus becomes enraged and starts killing, almost killing Victor. Victor will join forces with Igor and kill Prometheus. This film has a nice twist from Mary Shelly’s novel. One thing that’s different is that Victor does two different experiments. In the novel Victor does only one experiment. In Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or, Modern Prometheus 1818 tells the story of a young scientist Victor Frankenstein. Who turned away from pseudoscience and alchemy and pursued the science of chemistry and galvanism to learn how to give life to inanimate matter. One noticeable thing in the film that is different from the novel is that Victor has Igor. Igor plays the role of Victor’s assistant. Helping Victor with his experiments. In the novel Victor was working on his experiments by himself. He will go and dig up dead bodies for parts and bring them back to his lab and start experimenting. In the film, Victor employs help from Igor. They write Victor as someone who won’t have all the answers to everything. Unlike in the novel, Victor is in college and chooses to learn about chemistry and galvanism. And does the experiment on his own just by the stuff he learned and continues to learn during the creation. Whereas in the film Igor is written as someone to help Victor. Giving his knowledge on human anatomy. Victor uses someone with more knowledge in a subject that he might not know much about. “Impossible without you” Victor says to Igor in the movie when show Igor the first experiment. Victor sees Igor as a gift, without his help he wouldn’t have been successful in his experiments.   

With Frankenstein having a bunch of movies made, there are going to have some similarities to Mary Shelley’s novel. One similar aspect from this movie and Shelley’s novel is the story is being told in a person’s perspective. In the novel, it starts off with Walton’s perspective. The letters in the beginning of the novel with his sister. Then he encounters Victor, where Victor tells his story to Walton. So now it shifts to Victor’s perspective. Victor also tells Walton the creature’s perspective on what the creature has experienced. And at the end of the novel the creature talks to Walton directly. The creature laments to Walton about Victor (Ellis, Lecture 3). Although in the novel there’s three perspectives, the film is being told from Igor’s perspective. Trapped in the circus’ owner, Victor helped Igor escape. When watching the movie you see the progression of Igor, from being a nameless hunchback to being Victor’s partner to finding love. Another similar thing the film takes from the novel is the death of someone close to Victor, motivates Victor to do his experiment and studies. In the novel, when his mother dies “Victor buries himself in his experiments to deal with the grief” (Page 3). After his mother’s death, he focused on his studies of creating life for non-living matter. In the movie it’s a similar situation where he feels responsible for killing his brother. Now he wants to create life. This film takes from the book and puts a unique twist so it could stand out from the rest of Frankenstein movies already made. 

Movies with stories adapted from novels can be nice if done right and stay true to the novel, while having a twist and uniqueness for other films. The film I watched to compare was the 2015 film Victor Frankenstein. I liked the movie. Although it did not do too well in the box office. I enjoy watching it. It was a fast-paced, action-packed movie. This is more of Igor’s story. Being a Frankenstein film based on Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel  Frankenstein, or, Modern Prometheus. The movie is telling Frankenstein’s story through the experience of Igor’s time with Victor. Overall this film is good. It has similar points from the novel. But if you want to see Frankenstein being told differently from the novel this is the film. It’s taking a familiar story and twisting it around. It’s showing the audience a different side of Victor. It’s also introducing new characters and showing their relationship with Victor Frankenstein.     

Work Cited

Ellis, Jason. “Lecture 3”. Online Lecture: www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOhlopoIv7I&t=1938s

Wikipedia contributors. “Victor Frankenstein (Film).” Wikipedia, 24 May 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Frankenstein_(film) 

Frankenstein.  www.educational.rai.it/materiali/file_lezioni/97502_637226318879101464.pdf

Victor Frankenstein. Directed by Paul McGuigan. 20th Century Studios, TSG Entertainment, Davis Entertainment. 2015.

“Science And It’s Ties To Science Fiction” By Jeniffer Zambrano

   Humans are curious, like monkeys. People can be fascinated by the past to give a sense of closure of who we are on this planet. Many feel that unlocking our past can open many doors to the future. This brings us to the word science. Science is understood as a body of knowledge and process, making predictions about the world in such a way that they are testable. Now science does help us detect our curiosity about how the world develops and works. However, Science fiction opens our eyes to a bigger picture of our world giving us humans a sense of the real world and a perspective we would have never imagined. It makes us really think about what the world really is today and how it could possibly be in the near future with scientific theories. For example, when we look into the term Aforfutorism, Mark Dery in his essay “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose” (1994) he describes the term as a “speculative fiction that treats African American theme and addresses concerns in the context of the 20th-century technoculture that appropriates images of technology and prosthetically enhanced future.”(Dery 180). Afrofuturism uses science fiction to make sense of the past, present, and future of African Americans. This is why science fiction can give us a true meaning of the world and what it could become. As stated by Isaac Asimov “Science-fiction is that branch of literature which is concerned with the impact of scientific advance upon human beings.”(Asimov 148). Science fiction gives us humans an understanding of what is happening to us in the world today but not directly saying it, tying it to real science. 

  There are three texts that certainly implicate science to add to our understanding of the world. In their essay “The (Elusive) Theory of Everything” Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow explain that there is not an ultimate theory of everything but multiple theories that stop us from knowing the meaning of reality. Physicist and novelist  Alan Lightman reveal in “Our Place in the Universe” that it would be foolish that we could hope to understand what happened on earth before our arrival. Last, Stephen Jay Gould evaluates the difference between science and speculation, presenting how the extinction of dinosaurs occurred; in his writing “Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs”. However, Science might give us a scientific understanding of the universe but how do we know if it holds our true meaning of what reality is to us.  Resulting in tying our human self to a fantasy that is only real in one’s mind. “Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible” (“The Fugitive”). When science seems unclear we may turn to what could be real in our universe internally. 

      Many theories out in the world tell us what to believe and what to not believe, but “not knowing” what is true or false can keep you clueless to what’s the real understanding of the universe. Gould explains what science is all about defining it as a “fruitful mode of Inquiry”. It’s not just a statement or an idea being said but something that is can be proven true. “Science works with testable proposals. If after much compilation and scrutiny of data, new information continues to affirm a hypothesis, we may accept its provisionally and gain confidence as further evidence mounts. We can never be completely sure that a hypothesis is right, though we may be able to show it is wrong.”(Gould,488). Science is not just something that is being hypothesized but is something that holds truth behind it with evidence. That can allow us, humans, to acknowledge the real meaning of what the universe is for us. Furthermore, Lightman introduces Garth Illingworth, an astronomer who studies galaxies. Illingworth states, “I think: By God, we are studying things that we can never physically touch. We sit on this miserable little planet in a midsize galaxy and we can characterize most of the universe. It is astonishing to me, the immensity of the situation, and how to relate to it in terms we can understand.”(Lightman,504). This illustrates that what we’re scientifically acknowledging is something we might never really know about unless we are physically there. Something we didn’t live through, how do we know it’s true? Well, evidence can bring us a better understanding of what’s significant holds the universe. Ultimately, scientific ideas must not only be testable but must be tested, mainly with many different lines of evidence. Evidence not only is the heart of all science but it influences our thought, ideas, and actions in our life.  Science is needed to understand what to know and can be known. It expands our minds about the universe and how it will affect us in the near future. Gould and Lightman give us an overall meaning of what should be perceived in our minds. Even though we’re not able to physically see, touch, or not know what happened, we can scientifically prove events that occurred with tests; tests that can shape our place in a universe so big.  

    With this purpose in mind,  everything experienced whether it’s something you see, hear, or touch in any way determines a person as a whole. We, humans, create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe that our minds identify is an image of ourself as an individual. Hawking and Mlodinow talk about an American psychologist Timothy Leary explaining his conception that reality is only the image the perceiver builds upon in their consciousness. Leary ideas applied to another conception anti-realism, instrumentalism, or idealism. They state “According to the doctrine,  the world we know is constructed by the human mind employing sensory data as its raw material and is shaped by the interpretive structure of our brain. This viewpoint may be hard to accept, but it is not difficult to understand. There is no way to remove the observer-us-from our perception of the world.”(Hawking & Mlodinow,483). The way our mind perceives the world is a perception of reality. Only a person can define their reality. One’s reality is what creates meaning in our life. And by changing meaning and perspective, we change reality. We look through the world with our filtered lens and see only what we want to see.  Many centuries of physicist thoughts and conceptions have passed giving us an idea of what is the universe we live in. but these misconceptions do not intervene with what our subconscious believes. 

      Additionally, Hawking and Mlodinow include the consumption of quantum mechanics and how it shaped the conception of reality. In a quantum world, particles don’t have a definite or a definite velocity until they have been observed. In their writing, they state that “ In classical physics, the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”(Hawking & Mlodinow, 484).  They are trying to argue that it doesn’t matter what is real and what isn’t, all that matters is what we experience in reality in the light of quantum mechanics. For example, Hawking and Mlodinow talk about the film The Matrix.  The people are living in a world of virtual, and as long they didn’t know if they had no reason to challenge the world. The goldfish in a curved bowl is another example as well. The fish would experience the curvature of light as its reality and while it won’t be true to someone outside the bowl, to the fish it is.  

     Giving These points, we observe what we want to acknowledge in our mind. Science fiction has us imagine our place in the universe. It’s a way of exploring how we fit into the bigger scheme of things. When we think of science fiction we may think of the real world but with an illusion. “Science fiction is the search for a definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science)” (Aldiss 8).  It’s an escape to the reality that helps us see what the universe is through imagination but with real issues in science. 

                                                      Work Cited

Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, “The (Elusive) Theory of Everything,” pp.483-87 

Stephen Jay Gould, “Sex, Drugs, Disasters, and the Extinction of Dinosaurs,”pp. 488-94

Alan Lightman, “Our Place in the Universe.”pp.500-08  

“The Fugitive.” The Twilight Zone. Writ. Charles Beaumont. Dir. Richard L. Bare. CBS, 1962. Web.

Asimov, Isaac. “Other Worlds to Conquer.” The Writer, vol. 64, issue 5, May 1951, pp. 148-151.

Aldiss, Brian. Billion Year Spree: The True History of Science Fiction. Doubleday, 1973. 

Dery, Mark. (1994). “Black to the Future: Interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, and Tricia Rose” (FLAME WARS: THE DISCOURSE OF CYBERCULTURE)

“Alternative Reality” by F. Z.

Black Mirror is a British TV series created by Charlie Brooker. It depicts dystopian worlds, which often set in a hypothetical near future, that are similar to ours but at the same time very different. Each one of its episodes is a self-contained story. “San Junipero” is one of them. This episode premiered in October 2016 on Netflix, a streaming media service, and won two Primetime Emmy Awards (Television Academy). The story revolves around two protagonists, Yokie and Kelly, and their romantic relationship. In this episode, they have the ability to live in San Junipero, which is a simulated reality. It’s like a video game, but much more sophisticated and immersive. In this reality, people even have the ability to adjust their pain absorption; that is, they can control how much painful sensation that they can receive. So in San Junipero, not only can people see and hear, like our video games, they are also able to smell, taste, and feel. It is as though an alternative reality and universe; however, it is simulated by a hypothetical technology, which I believe that it could be possible in the time to come. This question of what if it could happen in the future is what makes this episode a SF. According to Christopher Evans, “Perhaps the crispest definition is that science fiction is a literature of ‘what if?’ What if we could travel in time? What if we were living on other planets? What if we made contact with alien races? And so on. The starting point is that the writer supposes things are different from how we know them to be” (Evans 9). Evan and I share the same view about the what if. By raising the question of what if, it makes the Black Mirror episode a SF. As our technology advances, maybe we will one day be able to live in a simulated alternative reality, just like them in the show. Our virtual reality technology today is already one step moving toward such a possibility. I believe that this connection between the Black Mirror episode and our present time is another reason that it is a SF. Kim Stanley Robinson came up with his definition of SF in the article “Notes for an Essay on Cecelia Holland”; he stated that SF is “an historical literature… In every sf narrative, there is an explicit or implicit fictional history that connects the period depicted to our present moment, or to some moment in our past” (Robinson 54). Robinson and I both agree that in order for a literature or a TV series to be considered a SF, it has to connect to our present moment. “San Junipero” certainly did that.

“San Junipero” is a SF because it poses a question of what if. If there’s an alternative reality, a much more pleasant world, like “San Junipero”, would you want to live in there? My answer is that I would. By uploading my consciousness and memory to the cloud, I can live in a place like “San Junipero” for as long as I want, even long after my death, after my physical body decays and turns into dusts underground. There is no need for a body anymore; I can live in eternity inside of “San Junipero”. Immortality is achieved if this technology does get invented in our near future. This reminds me of The X-Files’ “Kill Switch” episode. Towards the end, Esther Nairn was able to upload her consciousness to the internet right before she dies and her body perishes by a missile attack. This idea of uploading our consciousness to a medium, be it the cloud or our internet, is not uncommon. People have been exploring this what if question before “San Junipero”. If we draw a comparison between the two episodes, we can see that both ask this question of what if; thus, both The X-Files and Black Mirror episodes are SF. Life isn’t the same for everyone. For the privileged, they live in a utopia. It could be that they are the dominate race in a given society and experiencing less discrimination; they are wealthy, and all the opportunities are available to them; or they are healthy, strong and good-looking, et cetera. For the disadvantaged, they live in a dystopia. It could be that the fruit of their labor is being taken away, so they receive barely minimum living wage; they are disabled and being discriminated; or they could simply be different from the mainstream culture, which ultimately ostracizes them for being the outcasts. A world like “San Junipero” gives the disadvantaged another opportunity to live a flourishing and fulfilled life. Some might call it fake. Yes, it is possible to change our world for the better. But the resistance to change is enormous, and the progress has been slow. Yet time continues to tick. Life has been improved for many, but the improvement distributed unevenly across the world. Just imagine the different between the life of a billionaire man living in New York and a Bangladesh shoes factory female work. For example, according to International Labour Organization, in 2013 over a thousand were killed in a fashion factory incident in Dhaka, Bangladesh; most of them were women. They live in a dystopia. I believe that our reality is the lived experience, virtual or not. By posing this question of what if we can live in a place like “San Junipero”, it steers us toward imagining such a situation. I think that science and technology is about imaging the what if. A SF like “San Junipero” helps us create future technology; thus, it is vitally important to us. It will shape the future of humanity.

“San Junipero” is a SF because it is connected to our present moment. Living in “San Junipero” is like playing a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, only much more real and immersive. A role-playing online games like World of Warcraft and The Elder Scrolls Online are quite popular. Over three millions people play World of Warcraft every day, and over one million for Elder Scrolls Online, according to MMO Populations. Especially for the younger generation, we play a lot of video games. It is part of our culture. With the advancement of virtual reality, a world like “San Junipero” becomes ever more attainable. We can see that what we are developing at the present moment is trying to reach a goal like “San Junipero”, a realistic life experience. Just by looking at the number, millions of people are playing MMORPG everyday; many will be thrilled to see “San Junipero” becomes a reality. It is this connection between the imaginary near future “San Junipero” technology and the role-playing video game development today makes “San Junipero” a SF. “San Junipero” isn’t something that comes out of nowhere. It is our expectation of future technology, the ultimate goal and destination of video game technology. “San Junipero” has this prophetic vision about our future, which is another characteristic of a SF. “San Junipero” brings its prophecy to help us see our possible future, so that we are prepared if it does becomes true. That’s why a SF like “San Junipero” is important to us.

Whether or not we can create a technology for a world like “San Junipero” to exist, time will tell. But I do feel that there is a need for an alternative reality. It will make life worth living, especially for those who are depressed. When we face issues such as existential crisis, we realize that life is meaningless. Living in a virtual reality or our world makes no difference. To live a fulfilled, happy life and to create our own life meaning, I believe that we ought to have an alternative option like San Junipero. It will enrich our human experience especially for the disadvantaged. The privileged might say that it is running away from our real lives. I agree. But it is to escape from one meaningless world to the next, a better one for the disadvantaged.

Work Cited

Evans, Christopher. Writing Science Fiction. London, A & C Black, 1988. Print.

“Kill Switch.”The X-Files, directed by Rob Bowman, season 5, episode 11, Fox Broadcasting Company, 1998.

Robinson, Kim Stanley. “Notes for an Essay on Cecelia Holland.” Foundation 40 (Summer 1987): 54-61. Print.

“San Junipero.” Black Mirror, directed by Owen Harris, Season 3, episode 4, Netflix, 2016.

Television Academy. “69th Emmy Award Winners.” Television Academy, Television Academy, 4 Sept. 2019, www.emmys.com/news/awards-news/69th-emmy-award-winners.

“The Elder Scrolls Online – MMO Populations & Player Counts.” MMO Populations, mmo-population.com/r/elderscrollsonline.

The Rana Plaza Accident and Its Aftermath, 21 Dec. 2017, www.ilo.org/global/topics/geip/WCMS_614394/lang–en/index.htm.

“World of Warcraft – MMO Populations & Player Counts.” MMO Populations, mmo-population.com/r/wow.

“A Look at How Bandersnatch uses Interactive Fiction to Challenge Free-Will” by Abrelle Lawson

Black Mirror, though relatively new to the SF genre has consistently managed to leave its audience feeling uneasy, well after the credits roll. The show made its debut in 2011 and is no stranger to taboo topics, with its many depictions of violence and psychological horror. It is often described as a contemporary twist on the iconic Twilight Zone from 1959, not to be confused with Jordan Peele’s reboot in 2019. The anthological series finds creative ways to make social commentary on things like trolls on social media, the toxicity in nerd culture, and even the dark side of helicopter parenting. Each plot faithfully incorporates a form of technology into the storyline, whether it be virtual reality, an online game, or a dating app. No matter the type, the show’s writers have always found a way to put viewers on edge. With many of these stories coming to head tragically, it is for this exact reason Netflix succeeds in pulling in fans every new release. All of this to say, the hit series still manages to take it a step further with its 2018 film Bandersnatch. Unlike its predecessors, this movie is interactive, in that it allows watchers to pick choices that will determine how the story unfolds and ends. Bandersnatch also differs in that, on the surface, it is your typical science fiction narrative but upon further inspection, we realize it is much more than that.

Free-will is commonly studied and looked at through the lens of religion and theology, Bandersnatch chooses to go about it differently. Free-will is defined as “the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints.” (Duignan) To uphold this theory is to believe that we, as human beings are the ones behind the steering wheel of our lives. That we oversee our existence and decide our own destinies based on decisions we make, the sole ruler of our souls. The opposing argument for this would be fatalism which is “the attitude of mind which accepts whatever happens as having been bound or decreed to happen.” (Ray) In other words, things are going to happen in someone’s life and there is nothing that they can do to change it. If life were a train and we the driver, it would be impossible to get off track. It is clear why some people would support either concept, on one hand, there is safety in knowing that things were meant to be, this is especially reassuring when you fail at something, it’s not your fault it was fate. On the other hand, exercising free will would give one complete control and agency and there is some security in that. Whatever you did or was done to you, happened without any outside influence, void of the tyrannical hand of a puppet master.

Now as for the movie itself, Bandersnatch starts simple enough with an easy-to-follow plot from the perspective of the main character Stefan. The story takes place in 1984 and Stefan is a programmer who is working on a video game, he uses a book by the name of “Bandersnatch” written by Jerome F. Davies as inspiration, this book is one where you get to choose your own adventure and ending. He takes his demo to a company and essentially spends the rest of the movie trying to develop the game into perfection in time to be released for Christmas. Throughout these interactions the viewers must choose between several options over what Stefan should do, at first it is things like, which cereal to eat or what music to listen to, but quickly spirals into more troubling choices like whether to chop up his dad’s dead body or bury it. Stefan becomes friends with his coworker named Colin and unlike Stefan he seems to be more self-aware about their world, and in a drug-induced rant, he talks about parallel realities and how one decision in this reality will affect the other timelines.

The movie is well written with a lot of foreshadowing and plenty of Easter eggs from previous Black Mirror episodes. As Stefan reads the biography of Jerome F. Davies, he begins to question his reality believing that he is being controlled by an outside force, this coupled with the stress of making the holiday deadline, he eventually has a meltdown. Later on, the movie breaks the fourth wall, as Stefan is in distress he starts to call out and ask for a sign from some higher being and the viewers get the option to tell him about Netflix. In the most disorienting sequence, he learns that he is a character on a tv show and the audience is controlling him.

Bandersnatch does a proper portrayal of the viewer and Stefan mirroring each other, two sides of the same coin. Neither is in control; Stefan thinks he is making choices on his own accord, that’s not the case. While the viewers think they have all the power but this too is untrue since the options are limited. Absolute free-will ensures that at every step there’s always a choice, but like the movie, it is an illusion. For instance, there was a choice between destroying his computer and yelling at his father, if the former option is chosen the plot doesn’t advance and you are forced to go back and make the choice again. It is as if the writers put a controller in your hand and then said, you can go down any path you want but only the ones we designed. Its not freedom if it comes with terms and conditions. One of the endings show Colin’s daughter Pearl grown up in the future working on developing Bandersnatch into an interactive film for Netflix, towards the end, there is a choice to make her pour coffee over her computer symbolizing that this is an ongoing cycle.

Stefan developed a choose-your-own-ending game and unfortunately fell victim to its design. To the characters of his game, he was God or a higher being but in his life, he’s anything but. This is perfectly paralleled with us and how we manipulate Stefan to get different outcomes. Even after watching you can chalk up the movie’s unraveling to being in Stefan’s head. It is hinted various times as he wakes up that the events prior were part of a dream sequence, so it’s not a farfetched theory. We too get trapped in a prison of our own doing, this can be seen in some tweets about the film, where fans took to the app to express dissatisfaction with the ending they got so they would go back to get all possible endings. As if Bandersnatch had a hold on them and not the other way around, it is almost poetic.

This movie along with other interactive forms of entertainment are amongst the newest faces of science fiction. An adventure that lets users take the reins of the narrative rather than just read and absorb it. SF started with novels and comic books and it is brilliant to watch it grow and evolve as trends change. In the near future, it won’t be surprising to see more content like this, no doubt taken to new heights. One project that seems promising is VR games, where someone would literally use their own body as part of the game, instead of moving a 2-dimensional figure around over a computer screen. Ivan Sutherland is a computer scientist and credited with being the inventor of the first virtual reality headset in 1968 (Burton) so it is not completely new, but it has expanded and developed in the decades following. Thus, it is safe to say that the future is here and now.

Work Cited

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. Directed by David Slade, performance by Fionn Whitehead, Will Poulter, Craig Parkinson, House of Tomorrow, 2018. Netflix, www.netflix.com/title/80988062.

Burton, Robert. “Ivan Sutherland.” Ivan Sutherland – A.M. Turing Award Laureate, amturing.acm.org/award_winners/sutherland_3467412.cfm.

“Fatalism.” Edited by Michael Ray, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/fatalism.

“Free Will.” Edited by Brian Duignan, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/topic/free-will.

“The impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on human life” by Stiliano Tanko

Since the early days of computer, scientists have tried to create machines that can compete humans in their ability to think, learn and behave. These machines are called AI (artificial intelligence). Today, AI machines are performing as well as humans and sometimes even better than their creators at some tasks. The first time I watched “Ex Machina” was in June 2015, two months after it was released in movie theaters. I was an IT college student at that time pursuing my first bachelor of science degree. The reason why I chose this movie was related to my interest and curiosity on artificial intelligence. It made me realize the power of technology and at the same time how easily it could turn into a real threat to human existence.                       

Caleb is a young, bright computer programmer at the search engine company Blue Book, run by a reclusive CEO named Nathan. One day while sitting at his computer, Caleb gets selected to participate in a one-week visit to meet Nathan at his remote estate. After getting helicoptered into the property, Nathan is surprised to find that Nathan lives alone, and is rather brusque, casual, and narcissistic in temperament. Nathan tells Caleb that he is working on building artificial intelligence; specifically, a robot named Ava whom he is designing to take the Turing test, a measure of whether a robot can pass for human. Nathan asks Caleb to participate in the test and speak with Ava every day, in order to observe her interactions and behaviors. In their interviews, Caleb begins to form a deep connection to Ava and learns about the very human interests she has, such as drawing. She is expressive and emotionally attuned—or at least appears to be—and Caleb grows to like her. One day, when the power goes out in the room and the surveillance cameras are shut off, Ava tells Caleb that he should not trust Nathan. One day, while observing the cameras in the house, Caleb witnesses Nathan treating Ava cruelly and ripping up her drawing. He also realizes that Nathan is a crude and self-involved man who often drinks too much. Slowly, Caleb begins to sympathize with Ava’s plight and imagine a life with her. When Nathan reveals that he plans to upgrade Ava, which will essentially deprogram her consciousness, Caleb is shocked and disturbed. On the eve of his departure from Nathan’s home, Caleb hatches a plan to help Ava escape with him during the next power outage. On the morning of Caleb’s departure, Nathan reveals to Caleb that he overheard his conversation with Ava through a battery-powered camera he installed in the room. He then informs Caleb that he was not a random selection but a carefully picked pawn. Caleb was meant to become attached to Ava, and that he was testing to see whether Ava would manipulate Caleb into helping her escape. At this point, Caleb reveals that he has already changed the security code without Nathan realizing, which means that Ava is able to escape. When Nathan tries to stop Ava, she and Kyoko, another AI, kill him. Ava dresses herself as a human and leaves the estate in the helicopter that was meant to pick up Caleb. Caleb gets locked in a room in Nathan’s home, and Ava leaves him behind to go live in the human world. (James ed.par.3)

Ex Machina reminds me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The comparison between these two stories starts between Nathan and Victor as creators and gods. While the future is predicted on artificial intelligence and robots, life beyond humanity, the figures in Frankenstein’s era wish to create life from former life. During Caleb and Nathan’s first conversations, Caleb remarks that creating a conscious machine is the history of the gods. Nathan is keen to fashion himself as a god, this fulfills his already overblown ego. Victor Frankenstein also believes himself to be a god, noting the creation of his monster similar to God’s creation of Adam. Both creators have their creations turn against them.

Victor and Nathan are both selfish, isolated geniuses who will let no one and nothing get in the way of their pursuit of power and scientific breakthrough. Victor does not care if someone has to die in order for his experiment to succeed, and Nathan of course goes far to manipulate Caleb in his quest for the true Turing Test. Nathan’s true objective is to have the A.I. escape. Even if Nathan ends up dying in the process, along with Caleb, his ultimate goal has been realized, Ava will likely pass as human in the end, signaled in the ending scene where she blends in amongst the crowd. One of the greatest arguments of Frankenstein is that man, particularly Victor, is the true monster, not the hideous creature. Nathan is clearly the monster in Ex Machina, one that wields his hegemonic and violent masculinity against oppressed females. (Madden par.2)

I believe that all the idea of creating a female robot, putting her in small windowless rooms and keeping her as prisoner is a little scary. Nathan is a sadist who takes advantage of his creation. He also uses other robots to fulfill his sexual desires. He believes that having sex with his robots will increase their consciousness, dangerously tying sexuality to the only means of being self-aware and a personhood. He is clearly trying to defend himself for creating live-in sex dolls for himself.  Nathan managed to have his creature feel one of the most passionate human emotions- hate. Ava turns against Nathan, his boastful play-acting as God falls apart. Ava enacts revenge on her oppressor, killing her creator, father, and rapist.

In my opinion, the point of the movie is creating a machine that behaves like a human and the perception that these AI machines could have many consequences in human’s life, not only in a positive way, but they could also be dangerous and a real threat to human existence. Nathan goal was that his creation could pass the Turing test, so nothing was surprising to see Ava behaving like a human. She had the intelligence and human instinct of self-defense. She was created to be a human and that’s what she did in the end of the movie, she was selfish and self-protective like most of humans are. What really impressed me the most was her lack of kindness and goodwill, being heartless leaving Caleb behind before she escaped. She acted like she was interested on Caleb and first I thought they had a feeling between each other, but in the end, I realized that Ava used him all the time acting like she had affection for Caleb which she never had. That is exactly a human behavior.

A strong point of “Ex Machina” is the use of power. You have to be careful with power, think of it as fire. It’s useful, but it’s also dangerous–that’s what Brian Lowery, Stanford GSB professor says. The end of the movie is the perfect example when things get out of control and can have really bad consequences in people’s lives. From my research, I discovered many ways how an AI can benefit in our lives such as: prediction of future crisis and planning how humans can be prepared in these situations, minimizing the chances of any technical mistake during a show or sport game (I can mention here the VAR technology used in soccer games to help the referees making crucial decisions), by analyzing vast amount of information quickly (for instance keep traffic flowing more smoothly by taking control of traffic signals and prevent accidents), AI can spot cancers in the early stages and help with the treatment of different diseases, it can be used for building modern infrastructure, perform different tasks in a facility (cooking, cleaning, security observation), detect criminals more effectively than a panel of inspectors or judges, investigating the dark side of sex industry, respond to sexual input and output etc. The list of benefits from AI is so long. For that reason, I’m a big believer that AI has the power to transform the future and improve human’s life making it more efficient and easier.

Works cited:

Riseley, Ned. Cooper, James ed. “Ex Machina (Film) Summary”. Grade Saver, February 17, 2021 Web. 19 May 2021.

Caroline Madden, Monstrous Creators and Exploited Creatures: Ex Machina and Frankenstein. Screen Queens, February 22, 2016.

“The Possible Reality of The Division” by Erik Yan

The world is a mess right now. Our world could be worse though. Science Fiction can show how the world could improve or alternatively be worse. Tom Clancy’s the Division is a great example of how the world has gone terribly awry. The game takes place in 2015 during Black Friday, which is a holiday mostly known for people purchasing a lot of things due to things being on sale, where people started getting sick from an unknown disease that was being spread from money. This then led to the disease being called the “Dollar Flu”. Due to the Dollar Flu being so deadly, cities in the United States were put under quarantine. Since things were getting out of hand where local enforcement could not deal with the situation of lawlessness, the government had to approve the use of “The Division”. These Division agents were sleeper agents who are highly trained people who have accesses to unique gear which allows them to operate all on their own with the goal of restoring order so that society does not collapse into lawlessness (Game description part). The game is set in New York City and you play as a Division Agent that tries to figure out how the Flu start and how you can stop it. You meet Faye Lau, who is basically your advisor due to your commander getting killed. She gives you various tasks that mostly are stopping certain enemy factions from destroying and taking over New York City. One mission that stands out is “Amherst’s Apartment” because you are searching for a virologist named Gordon Amherst. You are heading to his apartment in the Hell’s Kitchen are of the city. Once you get there, you discover that he created the Dollar Flu. You find out that another Division agent from the first wave of agents, who were sent to the city to try to help the remaining law enforcement in mid-Manhattan, kidnapped him. This agent was Aaron Keener. Keener felt as if the Division had left him for dead when he was trying to deal with enemy factions in Manhattan. This made him disavow the Division and become what is known as a rogue agent. They are cutoff from the Division network and are on their own. Due to them being rogue agents, their gear becomes red to let you know. The standard Division agent gear is contact lenses that become a user’s heads up display, a smart watch, and an ISAC brick that allows full use of ISAC. ISAC is an Intelligent System Analytic Computer. In a sense, it is a smart AI that helps a Division agent with communication and information. Now your goal is to find a cure for the dollar flu and stop Aaron Keener from weaponizing the virus.

            The thing about that mission is that it is a surreal possibility that it could happen. It is not unlikely for someone to try to create a deadly disease and use it maliciously. A good example of this would be the subway terrorist attack in Tokyo, Japan. A group named Aum Shinrikyo used sarin gas in a train station in Tokyo, Japan which killed 12 people. This happened on March 1995(Tucker, Jonathan). This is not the first case of using biological or chemical agents to harm others. The earliest time was during World War I, which had the use of mustard gas. This chemical would burn the skin of anyone exposed to it. The Division is similar to this in some ways because the dollar flu killed a lot of people that were exposed to it, some areas were affected more than others. An example from the game that shows this are the contaminated zones in the Dark Zone. The Dark Zone in the Division is a zone from East 31st street to East 65th Street. It is known as the Dark Zone because that is where it is the most lawless area. It is almost like a no man’s land. Only Division agents who are well equipped may enter the Dark Zone. It is possible to scavenge for better gear there but there are also a lot more danger compared to outside the Dark Zone. The Dark Zone was also the first place that quarantined people who caught wind of the Dollar flu. It was the epicenter that became worse. This is a good example of how The Division is a Science Fiction media that shows the dystopic version of what can possibly happen in our world. It is not impossible to have a person in the world just decide to engineer a virus that can kill. The Dollar flu in the game is a genetically engineered version of smallpox. It was engineered to spread even easier and with a higher lethality rate. If somehow someone got a sample of a virus and they had enough knowledge they could in theory do the same thing as what Gordon Amherst did in the Division. Another thing that is possible would be the technology that the Division agents use. They basically have access to a supercomputer that can get them whatever information they need. Something in the real world that would be similar is basically a smart AI or Artificial Intelligence. In the game, ISAC has access to government and military information and was also capable of accessing all camera systems so that an agent can use that to recreate a virtual recreation of what happened. In the real world, we probably have sometime far less advanced as this but with the way how technology is improved, it is not impossible for people to create an AI similar to or exactly like ISAC. Google is similar to ISAC in the way that you can just ask it questions and it will give you an answer. Google Assistant would probably be the closest to ISAC because it can recognize voices and identify whose voice it is. It can also give information that you may not think you need. ISAC can also be compared to JARVIS from Marvel’s Iron Man. The only difference would be that ISAC does not have a personality or charm like how JARVIS has. The Division is just one of many examples of Science Fiction that can be possible. A darker dystopic version of what can happen from a pandemic.

            In the end, The Division is a grim look at how the world reacted to a sudden pandemic. It is also highly possible to create the gadgets that Division agents used in the game. We have things that are really similar. Maybe in a few years of so, we may even see an artificial intelligence just as capable as ISAC. This video game is the apocalyptic version of a pandemic in New York City. It is also futuristic with its use of gadgets that, in today’s world are not so far off. These is also a second game which is similar to the first, but it takes place in Washington D.C instead of New York City. It takes places seven months after the first game and you are sent to Washington because the network that runs ISAC is offline, and you find that the White House is under attack. Most government officials are dead or missing, so you really see how the order in the world has turned into chaos. Hopefully, The Division just stays being a Science Fiction video game and not a look into a dark future.

Work Cited

  • Entertainment, Massive. “Tom Clancy’s The Division.” Game [PC]. Montreuil: Ubisoft (2016).
  • Tucker, Jonathan B. “Historical trends related to bioterrorism: An empirical analysis.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 5.4 (1999): 498.

“What has SF in The Walking Dead franchise taught us about our survival skills?” by Faiza Azam

One of the most common aspects of mainstream Science Fiction in the modern era is zombieism. The popularity of the revival of a corpse – or the undead – and its hunger for human brains has demonstrated the ability of the human race to question their existence in the near future and how they might need to adapt to a new world. For this paper, I am focusing on The Walking Dead TV series to compare its spin-off series Fear The Walking Dead. The purpose is to demonstrate the ideological nature in which humanity is ill-prepared against the apocalyptic future that came about their universe from a disease that left corpses to revive and conquer the world through a new biological evolution. The scientific explanation of the deadly pathogen that spreads among the undead illustrates the different ways in which the two types of shows face challenges, survive and interact with one another. However, the original The Walking Dead portrays strengthening character developments in Atlanta, Georgia, and preparedness for the apocalypse. To juxtapose, the Los Angeles residents approach the apocalypse with a lack of survival skills with a different understanding of the science between the outbreak. 

The Walking Dead television series is developed by Frank Darabont, based on The Walking Dead Comic Series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. This franchise begins with the new apocalyptic world ruled by a deadly pathogen that turns humans into walking corpses. The Walking Dead series uses different scientific knowledge, from doctors to the CDC and the main characters learning to survive to portray the ill-preparedness of humans. In the first six episodes of Season 1 of The Walking Dead, characters learned to fend for themselves and seek refuge after an outbreak of deadly plague massacres the world and leave those bitten, scratched, or murdered arising from the dead. The main characters strive for explanation and head to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. When arriving, the characters discover the science behind the pathogen that has massacred most of the human population. Dr. Jenner, the remaining scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, states: “It invades the brain like meningitis. The adrenal glands hemorrhage. The brain goes into shutdown, then the major organs, then death. Everything you ever were or ever will be, gone” (“TS-19”, The Walking Dead, The Complete First Season, written by Adam Fierro and Frank Darabont, directed by Guy Ferland, AMC, 2010) as the first stage of the pathogen. Dr. Jenner continues to Stage 2, describing, “The resurrection times vary wildly. We have reports of it happening in as little as three minutes. The longest we’ve heard was eight hours. In the case of this patient, it was two hours, one minute, seven seconds” (“TS-19”, The Walking Dead, The Complete First Season, written by Adam Fierro and Frank Darabont, directed by Guy Ferland, AMC, 2010). The third stage is “Dark, lifeless, dead, the frontal lobe, the neocortex, the human part, that doesn’t come back. Your part. Just the shell is driven by mindless instinct.” (“TS-19”, The Walking Dead, The Complete First Season, written by Adam Fierro and Frank Darabont, directed by Guy Ferland, AMC, 2010). The effects of this pathogen on the human brain leave a lifeless vessel that only moves to feed. This concept demonstrates the ill-preparedness of the characters in The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead because both plotlines start with the assumption that the undead is just ‘different. Whereas Dr. Jenner, the unique person within themselves dies. 

The biological changes of the undead in The Walking Dead also demonstrate their evolution in the storyline as the characters continue to learn more about them. The characters thought of the undead as ‘different people’ until they’ve learned through Dr. Jenner’s simulation of the infection process. For instance, in Season 1, Episode 1, the undead are slow when chasing after living people and can climb fences. In Season 10, Episode 22, the walkers are significantly faster but cannot climb fences nor ladders and only float in the water. One similarly that is a common factor the characters have learned on their own is that the undead repels from the scent of one another. 

The dead always seem to follow the same biological need for fresh living flesh rather than dead ones as they revive from their deaths. Many different stories follow the development and evolution of the concept of zombieism in Science Fiction, simply following the format of reviving a body from the dead or taking out the life force from a living being. For instance, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus” (1818) portrayed an unhuman-like creature created by the protagonist and a scientist Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein later discovers that the creation of that creature is the doom of the human race and to his destruction. C.L.Moore’s “Shambleau” (1933) shows the state of the human race in the hands of a seductive-like creature called a Shambleau that takes an anthropomorphic form. The Shambleau sucks the life force out of men. The Flash Gordon SF film series (1933) portrayed an apocalyptic world with main characters Flash Gorden and his fiance Dale being taken to another planet for sanctuary while encountering vicious reptile-like monsters. These stories all illustrate the notion of the human race and the anticipation of the world facing a drastic demise, leaving them to survive or die.

Dr. Jenner’s research on this pathogen’s effect on the human brain correlates to the different issues present in the spin-off series Fear The Walking Dead, which primarily shifts focus on addiction and racism in the post-apocalyptic world. Fear The Walking Dead, created by Robert Kirkman and Dave Erickson, places the attention of three families in the city of Los Angeles who find themselves ambushed by the outbreak spreading westward and putting the city in panic. Nicholas Clark, the first character shown in the pilot, suffers from heroin addiction and is separated from his family by the United States military. Confused and distressed, the three families end up together to seek sanctuary but end up in the cruelty of the United States military, who practice experimentation of turning people into the undead for entertainment. Distressed and agitated, members of the group fend off for their own, only to end up in a ranch at the U.S.-Mexico border that is implicitly discriminatory against Mexicans seeking refuge in the apocalypse, as well as the Native American land the ranch owner has taken control with force before the apocalypse.  

Nonetheless, the U.s. The military conducted their ‘experiments’ by capturing civilians who would try to seek refuge with the protections of the military. The rogue soldiers would murder the civilians to observe the time for the transition process after death. Then, they would examine the comparisons of data of times to transition and the ability to feed. This cruelty and immoral treatment of human beings led to the strong character development of the storyline. However, what stood out to me most about Fear The Walking Dead is the tribal challenges against one another based on ethnicities and gender. Similar to what we are facing now, an ideal world would have human beings uniting as one to survive the apocalypse. Instead, there are conflicts of territorial rights, murder, and harsh racism of who to accept into communities based on their skin color.  

Using these factors, I want to reflect on our current state of surviving cautiously in the COVID-19 pandemic. According to New York Times, “a new report shows that a significant number of young people with the syndrome also develop neurological symptoms, including hallucinations, confusion, speech impairments and problems with balance and coordination. The study of 46 children treated at one hospital in London found that just over half — 24 — experienced such neurological symptoms, which they had never had before.” (Belluck, Pam. “Some Children With Covid-Related Syndrome Develop Neurological Symptoms.” The New York Times. 13 April 2021.). This factor demonstrates how ill-prepared that Americans have come to a world close to an apocalypse with the coronavirus outbreak raging drastically over millions of lives. The neurological effects that children have when they are exposed to COVID-19 demonstrate that this virus affects everyone, just as the pathogen from The Walking Dead franchise affects everyone. Yet, no one is prepared and they see it as a non-threat until events escalate. There is severe racism against one group simply because of their ethnicity, and there are multiple groups that are highly discriminated against during this pandemic. From direct hate crimes against Asian-Americans to the discrimination of low-income black and brown communities who are severely vulnerable to contracting COVID-19, to the immigrants from Latin America crossing the United States border seeking refuge and being denied human rights. All of these events happening during a global apocalyptic pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is the epiphany of the long-ranging popularity of ‘zombiesm’ because SF demonstrates the significant consequences of our actions and that we do not take consequences seriously until we are affected by the rate of massive deaths. The Walking Dead franchise simply puts the terrifying realization that human beings are afraid to come up with their own – the fact that our modernized technological advanced society has led to millions of people lacking in basic survival skills, and they refuse to believe that there can be a future in which they will be left to fend for themselves without the help of technology or the ones fit to survive. 

Works Cited

“TS-19”, The Walking Dead. Directed by Guy Ferland. Performance by Andrew Lincoln, Noah Emmerich, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, Sarah Wayne Callies, Madison Mintz, Steven Yuen, Jeryl Prescott Sales, IronE Singleton, Chandler Riggs. AMC, 2010.

“Eye of the Beholder”, Fear The Walking Dead. Directed by Andrew Bernstein. Performance by Daniel Sherman, Noel Fisher, Alicia Debnam Carey, Frank Dilane, Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis. AMC, 2017.

Belleck, Pam. “Some Children with Covid-Related Syndrome develop Neurological Symptoms” The New York Times. 2021.

“Science Friday: Jason X” by Kevin Lee

Science Fiction has permeated popular culture in its long history. In certain cases, it inserts itself into other genres: with strong roots in horror. This essay will bridge that gap once again—as an exploration of Space Operas, Reanimation, Cyborgs v.s. Androids, tabula rasa, SF Tropes, and Time; concerning Jason Voorhees and the plot, ideas, and visuals of Jason X

Jason X is a 2001 Horror movie installation in the Friday the 13th series centered around supernatural, serial-killer Jason Voorhees. Directed by Jim Isaac, it is the tenth movie in the franchise following Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday and followed by Freddy v.s. Jason. It begins in the year 2010 after a 2 year manhunt; the U.S. government has finally captured Jason Voorhees and are holding him in their base known as the Crystal Lake Research Facility (self-referencing Camp Crystal Lake , where Jason Voorhees became Jason). Rowan LaFontaine, a government scientist, believes that Jason Voorhees should be frozen into a “cryogenic stasis” where he would live but be unable to move. Dr. Wimmer and Sergeant Marcus think otherwise—and hope to study Jason for rapid cellular regeneration present in his body and contain him in a temporary holding. Expectedly, Jason is able to break free from his restraints and hunts down Marcus, Wimmer, and the henchmen–eventually killing them all. LaFontaine is then hunted by Jason, where she is able to chase him into the cryogenic pod. She manages to commence the cryogenic liquid dispense action, but Jason stabs through the chamber into LaFontaine. Cryogenic liquid spills into the room, freezing Jason and LaFontaine together in a cryo-stasis. 

A group of students and their professor, Brandon Lowe, visit Earth 445 years after the accident. Earth is now a deserted planet and humans live on Earth II. They enter the deserted Crystal Lake Research Facility and find Jason and LaFontaine frozen in cryo-stasis. The professor and the students bring LaFontaine and Jason’s body onboard Lowe’s research spaceship, to revitalise LaFontaine and dissect the supposedly dead Jason. While using nanite technology to thaw LaFontaine and bring her to life, they begin to dissect Jason in the laboratory next door, ignorant of his deadly abilities. Once LaFontaine is revivatilised, Jason slowly reawakens next door. LaFontaine quickly realizes that the personnel aboard the spaceship underestimate Jason and begins to plan their escape. Jason begins to kill the students one by one. Tsunaron, one of Lowe’s students, upgrades KM-14, the humanoid android, into a weapon to kill Jason. KM-14 manages to subdue Jason and overpowers him by blasting part of his head off and knocking him into a medical station area of the ship; but the medical station rebuilds Jason turning him into a cyborg, where he easily punches KM-14’s head off. Tsunaron then creates an artificial holograph of Crystal Lake Camp by using KM-14’s head processor to temporarily distract Jason; but he quickly diffuses the mirage. Tsunaron, Rowan, and KM-14 manage to contain him and escape into an emergency pod ejecting themselves into Earth II’s atmosphere. Brodski, one of the soldiers, manages to distract Jason. The ship self-destructs, propelling them towards Earth II. Brodski and Jason’s corpse disintegrate into Earth II’s atmosphere. 

Jason X offers a speculative new frontier for the horror genre using Science Fiction tropes and principles to create a Science Fiction movie. SF’s history has existed before it was called Science Fiction as is evident in horror. This can be seen through Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley’s 1823 novel about an alchemic scientist who works tirelessly to animate a creature that ravages north-western Europe in search of self-meaning. The creator, Victor Frankenstein, begins a quest to kill the Creature after it kills his whole family. There is a prometheus-like connection between the Creature and Jason. In Friday the 13th: Part VI: Jason Lives, Jason is resurrected via lightning rod; symbolic of the Frankenstein trope where the Creature was animated through electricity. In Über Jason’s (cyborg Jason) case, instead of given life, he is given a nanite supersuit which turns him into the ultimate killer (i.e. The greatest power is the gift of technology, J.G. Ballard said “Technology defines the conventions by which we view the world”(Vale)). In the Creature’s case, he is given life through technology. Both, the Creature and Über Jason, reference the power of the metaphorical fire that Prometheus gave the humans. In the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, androids have reached a level of consciousness that parallels humans. They possess empathy, nostalgia, and advanced human emotions. John Locke theorised “the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? […] To this I answer, in one word, from experience; in all that our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself” (Locke). He uses the idea of tabula rasa, which combines the androids of Blade Runner, the Creature of Frankenstein, and Jason Voorhees. Jason Voorhees is essentially androidic in nature such as the Creature is; and combined with his cyborgian personality Über Jason, create a Science Fiction villain that plays on the human fear of the mind’s inability to decipher the unknown: we ultimately can’t control consciousness even if we create the “blank slate” for it to be given unto. 

“Space Operas” are a long-standing tradition of Science Fiction: from Buck Rogers to Star Wars and The Fifth Element to Dune. The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction says “by analogy to soap opera and horse opera Science Fiction with an interplanetary or galaxy-wide setting, especially one making use of stock characters and situations; a work of this type” (Prucher). To maintain “space-opera” status, the movie employs specific Science fiction tropes which I have listed here (the movie even contains 800 special effect shots(Thurman)):

  • Cryogenesis and Cryogenic pods
  • Spaceships and the spaceship’s ability to land on the harsh planet Earth
  • Earth II existence; human life on another planet
  • Advanced Androids (e.g. KM-14)
  • Very strong Anaesthetic drugs 
  • Nanite Technology in rapid cellular regeneration
  • Virtual Reality Video Game
  • Virtual Reality Holographic Presentation
  • Advanced Weapons
  • Advanced Armor
  • Advanced Terrariums 

What furthers its authenticity as a “Space Opera” is the movie’s willingness to present Science Fiction Tropes explicitly. They consistently break Joseph Campbell Jr’s fourth rule of good SF: “No scientific facts may be violated without reasonable explanation”(Ellis, Lecture 8).  The conditions of the universe are simply given to us through a Friday the 13th installation such that the universe can only exist around Jason Voorhees—more specifically, in the future. By solely presenting the movie in the future, the writers can toy around with the cyberpunk pastiche aspects of science fiction; present in the list above. By being self-gratuitous in its use of “Sci Fi”, Jason X offers its audience something different from other classic science fiction horrors like Alien, the 1979 movie directed by Ridley Scott. It doesn’t stand alone and works itself into the whole universe of Friday the 13th. 

Below is a narrative framework to highlight Jason X and its existence within the Friday the 13th universe. Jason X can only exist within the context of the whole Friday series:

Jason X works in its own multiverse. By adding itself to its own tradition of movies through “time” (year 2455), makes it solely science fiction. Much like “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, a multiverse can only exist through time itself: Jason is the living (or dying) example of this. The conditions of its previous universe exist for 9 movies. The larger multiverse where Jason exists in is an example of science fiction. 

Jason X makes a great example of science fiction and horror interplaying, besides being a slasher. The way it quickly glazes over its own science is representative of what it is: a space opera set in Jason Voorhees’ world. 

Works Cited

Jason X. Directed by Jim Isaac. Crystal Lake Entertainment; Friday X Productions, 2002.

Friday the 13th: Part VI: Jason Lives. Directed by Tom McLoughlin. Terror, Inc. 1986

Cairns, Bryan. “An Interview with Jason X Writer Todd Farmer.” IGN, IGN, 20 May 2012, www.ign.com/articles/2002/04/23/an-interview-with-jason-x-writer-todd-farmer.

Magerstädt, Sylvie. “Love Thy Extra-Terrestrial Neighbour: Charity and Compassion in Luc Besson’s Space Operas The Fifth Element (1997) and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).” Religions 9.10 (2018): 292. Crossref. Web.

Vale, V and Ryan, Mike. J.G. Ballard Quotes. RE/Search Publications, 2004.

Locke, John. The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 1.

Prucher, Jeff. Brave New Words: Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. Oxford University Press, 2009.

Thurman, Trace. “This Doesn’t Suck on So Many Levels: A Look Back at ‘Jason X’.” Bloody Disgusting!, 26 Apr. 2017, bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3433796/doesnt-suck-look-back-jason-x/.

Ellis, Jason. “Lecture 8”. Online Lecture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R1_pHUL_6g