Take-home exam questions

As with all assignments, follow the guidelines given here. Cite any information you find in another source.

The take-home exam (worth 25%) is due by April 20 at 4:00 pm, in my mailbox or office. No late submissions will be accepted, except in truly exceptional circumstances.

Answer one of the questions in a short (~3 page) essay based on at least 3 texts on the syllabus, including at least 1 novel). Each question is on some general aspect or theme related to the course.

Your answer should be a wide-ranging discussion, drawing on different authors and works that exemplify different ways in which the theme or aspect is manifested. I’m looking for a well-structured synthesis, an ability to make general claims with generalizing (including using specific examples to illustrate general trends). As always, cite your sources and avoid generalizations–no matter how obvious or “natural” they may seem.

Be sure not to simply listed examples in your answer. For example, if you answer question (4), make sure to do more than simply list SF texts in which language is important. Answer the question itself: why….

I have posted a sample answer here (but read my caveats, listed there).


1. In an Afterword to the story, Octavia Butler calls “Bloodchild” her “pregnant man story.” Discuss why reproduction plays such an important role in Science Fiction.

2. Based on Brave New World and at least two other texts, discuss the blurry line between Utopia and Dystopia.

3. Discuss why the human body is so prominent in much Science Fiction, whether it is being dismantled, mixed with technology, or merged with non-human bodies.

4. Why are so many SciFi writers preoccupied with language?

5. Why would authors concerned with either feminism or race want to write Science Fiction?

6. In Super Sad True Love Story Lenny says that “the true subject of science fiction is death” (217). Based on our readings, how is Lenny’s assessment helpful for understanding the genre?




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