(2019 midterm assignment)

Model Midterm answers 2019 (Index)

Essay 3: Web Highlights

LITR 4368
Literature of the Future  

Model Assignments


Beau Manshack

A Glimpse into the Past to Predict the Future

I have always been a fan of literature, but I have not had the proper amount of respect for science fiction until I took this class. Science fiction allows for readers to glimpse into probable futures of the world by analyzing how society functions during their era. Spiritual texts have inspired writers to use creation-apocalypse themes as a basis for their stories. What is unique to science fiction stories is how writers use stories that involve their version of the apocalypse to show how they view the world progressing. The idea of a utopia is an unrealistic expectation, but a stronger co-existence between people with different belief systems is an achievable future. Stories that employ visions of the future have a varied mixture of readers, but they all carry the capability to be perceived as equal in an analytical sense. Reading past texts allows readers to interpret the future in a way that is wholly unique to them as individuals. 

     Creation-apocalypse literature offers a bleak glimpse of the future by explaining the creative origins of the past. Creation narratives explain how the world was created, while apocalypse stories suggest how the world will end. The Bible shows readers an enlightening vision of both narratives. The stories of Genesis and Revelation have managed to influence the lives of Christians for thousands of years; the power of these books speak with an authority that captivates readers by making them fearful of the end times. As Kyle Abshire stated in his 2017 1st essay, “The linear fashion in which the Bible runs is a perfect example of an apocalypse narrative. The simplicity of the narrative lends the story authority”. Kyle points out that what makes the idea of the apocalypse compelling to readers is its ability to captivate an audience though its authoritative tone. The voice of God in Genesis provides a sense of comfort to its readers, while somehow evolving to terrify them when they read the end times as depicted in Revelation. As the same with Norse mythology, the world and its rules are introduced; then the concept of that world ending is established. Creation-apocalypse stories essentially form a perfect circle timeline: there is a beginning, there is an end, then rebirth. The interesting thing about Christian theology is that while Paganism died out over time; Christianity still holds strong to this day.

     Going into scientific terms, Sociocultural evolution depicts the growth in a society and how a culture changes over time. In literature, the technological advances of a society generally occur at the expense of the social growth of that culture. Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower depicts a future that has advanced technology, but people degrade to a mob-like state. It is apparent that Butler wanted to convey a commentary on the dangers of advancing technology while neglecting to progress as a collected society. The world her characters inhabit are a hybrid high-tech/low-tech society; one that portrays a future where technology could not be properly utilized for the betterment of a culture. As written by Greg Bellomy in his 2016 2nd essay, “Despite these apocalyptic developments, the government manages to continue as an ineffective shell which is powerless to help its own people”. Greg’s argument wisely suggests that the people in power have made great advancements to place “people on Mars”, yet cohesion on Earth either remains the same, or gradually degrades to an undesirable state. Butler’s future vision of society provides a scary, but probable future. If society continues to act in an individualistic manner then its evolution will progress unequally.

        Considering alternative futures, the idea of a unified vision of evolution mixed with creation/apocalypse narratives do exist. While these concepts are contrasting in nature, they somehow manage to co-exist in the world of literature. As stated by Kerisha Loctor in her 2017 web highlight assignment, “An apocalypse can lead to evolution, and vice versa. Evolution of different species at different times can make a great foundation to an alternative futures piece”. Kerisha’s argument is that apocalypse is spiritual in origin, and evolution is scientific in nature, but that does not mean that one cannot lead into the other. As seen in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, the Eloi and Morlocks are evolutionary versions of humanity that exist as the future version of cattle and rancher. The relationship these two people share last for an unseen amount of time, but it is not permanent. When the Time Traveler advances into the distant future, there is no Eloi, or Morlocks. The only living creatures that can be seen are crab-like creatures that live on a beach, and green organisms that do not resemble a typical human. While the Time Traveler did not witness the downfall of humanity, the fact remains that there is no longer human life in the distant future. Evolution of the human species has essentially begat its own extinction. 

This assignment allowed me to get a glimpse into the mindset of my peers and gain an insight into the experience of those who took this class before me. Kyle’s description of the power of the Bible was insightful. I often have trouble explaining how I see the word of God affecting people, but Kyle’s essay was well written and provides an effective description of how the Bible speaks with authority. God created the Earth, so its logical that one day—he will end it. Greg’s essay talks about the lack of proper government direction in a given society. I really enjoyed his argument; they provided me with much needed structure for my own thoughts. Kerisha’s argument really spoke to me on a personal level. I was happy to see that someone else sees evolutionary stories as being co-habitable with biblical texts. It’s a tricky subject to approach, so I was excited to see it expressed so professionally.

When I approached this assignment, I expected to have my beliefs challenged, and I was not disappointed. While I managed to find people that had ideas that played off each other; these ideas did not come without some sort of criticism. This notion appeals to me as a writer as I believe that my beliefs should be constructed from the arguments of my peers. It is the duty of a writer to ensure that they are allowing ideas to flow into them when they read the works of others, and assignments like this offer us the opportunity to do just that.

Works Cited

     Abshire, Kyle. Narratives of the Future: Three Forms of Story Telling. UHCL. 2017.

      Bellomy, Greg. Wells and Butler Talk Class, Identity, and the Future. UHCL. 2017.

      Loctor, Kerisha. Merging of Future Narratives. UHCL. 2017.