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Literary quality - Themes of Utopia and Dystopia in Science fiction

Question #1 – one short paragraph

A utopia is a perfect or ideal society. In contrast, a dystopia is a society that is in some way undesirable or even frightening. Dystopias in science fiction are often based on some quality or problem in the real, present-day world. Why do you think that the themes of utopia and dystopia are common in science fiction?

Question #2 – one short paragraph

Science fiction is sometimes considered to be of a lower literary quality than other fiction genres. In fact, literary scholars often classify highly literary works of science fiction as something other than science fiction. What is your opinion of science fiction? Do you think it is a form of serious literature? Why or why not?

Question #3 - Based on your reading of chapter 5 of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, answer each of the following questions in a few paragraphs.

Part A – one short paragraph

How does the Time Traveller seem to feel about the Eloi and the Morlocks?

Part B – two short paragraph

How does the excerpt from chapter 5 reveal the Time Traveller's initial theory of the social structure that exists in the future society he visits? What is his first impression of the relationship between the Eloi and the Morlocks and the ways that the two races have evolved?

Part C – one short paragraph

What does the excerpt reveal about Wells's view of capitalism and class in the Britain of his day?

Part D – one short paragraph

Charles Darwin's theories on evolution had a major impact on Victorian ideas about the world and humanity’s place in it. His theory of natural selection suggested that species that could survive intense competition and adapt to their environment were genetically superior and were the ones to survive. Many people in the Victorian era took Darwin’s theory one step further to make assumptions about the social classes. They falsely believed that the upper class was genetically superior to the working class. How does Wells critique the flawed principles of social Darwinism in The Time Machine?

Question #4 – three paragraphs

Many people believe that science fiction stories are tales about incredible gadgets or scientific wizardry and that they lack any serious elements of literature. What was your notion about science fiction as a literary genre before you read the excerpt from The Time Machine? Did reading The Time Machine change your opinion of the genre? If so, in what way did your opinion change? Would you classify The Time Machine as a serious literary work or a simple tale? What literary aspects lead you to this conclusion? In the end, how would you rate The Time Machine from a literary perspective? Present your response in three paragraphs.

Question #5 - Discussion Topic

Think about the modern texts you read for this unit. In your opinion, what makes literature “good” or “bad”? How comfortable are you in determining the quality of literature? Do you find it easy to critique a text? If not, what do find difficult? How does your comfort level change depending on the genre and the era in which the text was written?

Literary quality - Themes of Utopia and Dystopia in Science fiction

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