Midterm Exam Review Guide

The exam will be “take-home” and is to be written individually. You will have a choice of essay topics, which will be posted by Sunday evening, and due via Courseweb upload by the end of the day on Tuesday, October 17.

The exam will require you to write about each of the books we have read so far in the course, in the context of the essay topics you choose. One or two questions may ask you to work with a posted context reading and apply it to passages in our SF readings.

Topics to Review:

Charles Darwin: Origin of Species / Descent of Man natural selection and “struggle for existence” social Darwinism: Thomas Henry Huxley, Herbert Spencer: concept of “survival of the fittest” telos / teleology / teleological

SF and creative adaptation, shared motifs/homages (H. G. Wells vs. Orson Welles, others?)

Archetypal forms and comic book personas pirate comic and “superhero” masks

Entropy and “kipple”

Raymond Dart (1920s): Killer Ape hypothesis Predator / Prey representations: humans as predators or passive herd animals?


Androids and intelligent computers heuristic (heuristic device / heuristically programmed..) algorithm Alan Turing: Turing test

Friedrich Nietzsche Ubermensche

Simulacrum – Mercer / Empathy Box Rorschach test vs. Voigt-Kampff test…what do we read of individuals? Rorschach’s mask… Kitty Genovese / Bystander syndrome

Apocalypse (end of the world): Different ways to end the world, and restart it? Nuclear technology Alien invasion/ intervention

Essay topics under construction:

  1. Android personas and Masks : DUPLICATION and ADOPTION of fabricated identities—how a theme in the SF we’ve been reading? Invention of archetypal peronas vs. individual identities. Which readings show transferability of personas—and HOW transferred? Which show technological invention of new selves?

  2. EVOLUTION—Degradation and Progress of humanity at the same time? Interventions of Ubermensches: Humanity’s weaknesses and strengths…and capacity to be enhanced/improved?

  3. Artificial intelligence—limits and possibilities? Technologically-made Consciousness: Alienation from humanity? Humanoid forms? Technological enhancement beyond human? HAL, Dr. Manhattan, Androids in DADES


  5. Fictionalized Alien Invasions: How is Watchmen a commentary on War of the Worlds?

  6. Alien Monstrosity vs. Alien Intelligence