(2019 midterm assignment)

Model Midterm answers 2019 (Index)

Essay 3: Web Highlights

LITR 4368
Literature of the Future  

Model Assignments


Breanna Runnels

Transitions of Science Fiction

          There are many different subjects we could choose within science fiction including time travel, the role of women, the presence of disease, the question of future currency, and many more. One of the most mentioned themes that I have found throughout the model assignments is the concept that science fiction has changed and progressed over time. One of the constant features of science fiction that I have found is the lack of the evolution and decline in basic human necessities like emotion or being able to function without technology or survival skills.

          The first model assignment that I found that supports the idea of constant religious imaging within science fiction was Tanner House’s “Artificial Extinction”. From his piece I learned about transhumanism, which could possibly be seen in “Stone Lives”. His paper states that “the term “transhumanism” is originally credited to British biologist Julian Huxley, and is essentially the idea that the human condition and human physiology can be greatly bolstered and enhanced with the integration and further development of technology.  Common applications of transhumanism are things like cybernetic implants, prosthetics, and machine integrated/synthesized learning.” While this does help the disabled or disenfranchised the opportunity the make up for their disabilities, it also places the rich and abled at an unfair advantage quite quickly. He states that he is “fascinated with the human condition, and this ascension/evolution implies something that is strictly inhuman. Artificial integration is not natural selection.” The human body is changing to become less human, which is a feature common in many pieces of science fiction.

          Going with the theme of humans becoming more inhuman, it leads you directly to the Eloi and the Morlock in The Time Machine. Christa Van Allen’s “Singularity and Human Empathy” explains the idea of singularity, “a hypothetical moment in time when artificial intelligence and other technologies have become so advanced that humanity undergoes a dramatic and irreversible change”, in the perfect way. The Eloi have become so dehumanized and lack basic human survival skills that they have become a species in infinite fear. She says that the “Eloi, small, childish specimens of human evolution that have become so used to the care of their basic needs by their subterranean cousins that they are lazy, dumb, and weak. They are unable to understand the very intelligence which keeps them alive, and so quite honestly they’re lucky that their farmers are the only predator they have to worry about.” With the decrease in humanity, the Eloi are a creature in constant fear.

          While not all hope is lost in science fiction’s use of humanity, there must be a human acceptance of “change as a progress of decline”. When reading Zach Thomas’ “Where is Our Humanity”, it seems that he has a good grip on how humans feel about the change as it is currently approaching them. He writes that “We also may interpret that through evolutionary measures are we able to contribute to improvement or de-escalation. For Lauren in Parable, her view of humanity was for progress that was spurred on by a unique belief system. Much different from her fathers view of “just stay put and dont do something risky,” Lauren is pushed out of her home to desire a place that is later named Acorn, by any means necessary.” Though humans are the ones directly affected by the improvement or de-escalation of human nature, they are also the only ones that can make these changes happen or improve off of them when the evolutionary factor has reached its peak.

          Humans are the easiest subject to study when focusing on the theories of evolution and the advances or declines in human nature, as it is what we are closest to. Thomas states that “we as humans will hold onto certain institutions of modernity that leads us to believe we are improving society.” As a human in current times it is hard to see that we are a society that is experiencing evolution as we are only experiencing the times that we currently live in. Looking into these pieces of science fiction allows us to question the life of humans and the possibility that every action that we make can lead to an evolutionary or apocalyptic effect, we just have to take our risks. These three authors allow the reader to gain insight into how science fiction embrace the idea of humanity’s degradation in the future or the (small) possibility of improvement.