Thursday, November 13, 2008


My SF Literature class has turned in their first papers. There are 33 of them, and I am deep into grading, which in this case is even more difficult than it usually is. Although some of the students, inevitably, are merely regurgitating what was said in class, many others have written thoughtful and interesting papers. But they are writing in a language not native to them, and sometimes there are good ideas and organization but very rough English; other times there is nearly perfect English but either poor organization or not much to organize. How much weight do I give to what?

I suspect I'm grading pretty easily, partly because I'm so impressed that they can write an academic paper in a second language at all. They have read hundreds of pages of sometimes-complex SF in English, and will read hundreds of pages more (re Red Mars, Robinson has been accused of "describing every last damn rock on Mars.") That, too, seems to me to justify comparatively easy grading.

For those interested, here are the paper questions, both based on some of the works read to date:

Choose one question:

A person may accept the ideas of the world he or she grows up in, may reject those ideas, or may strive for a combination of acceptance and rejection. Discuss how this applies to two of the following characters: Berge, Koriba, Louise Banks, Shevek, Tirin. Be as specific as you can, citing incidents from the texts.

Much of science fiction is, in one way or another, concerned with power. Describe what power means and how it operates in two of the following societies: the terraformed moon of “People Came from Earth,” the Heptapod society of “The Story of Your Life,” the orbital Kirinyaga, Annares, Urras. Be sure to give specific examples from the texts.


bluesman miike Lindner said...

Aw, Nancy, what author explored =both= those questions better than Heinlein in DOUBLE STAR (Hugo winner), STARSHIP TROOPERS (Hugo winner), STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND (Hugo winner), and THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS (by gum--a Hugo winner!)?
Not to mention the great Poul Anderson in =many= novels.
Did somebody mention Jack Vance...?

Nancy Kress said...

Don't you read anybody but dead white guys? :)