Assignment #2: The Civilizations of Sci-Fi

Every science-fiction author creates a world to locate his or her story. Distinguishing the essential characteristics of a fictional world and articulating them in a few sentences may help us develop some important analytical skills for history. Today we all read portions of different stories that in some what posit alternate civilizations. What I’d like you to do is now attempt to encapsulate that fictional civilization in writing.

So here is your assignment:

1) Please read enough of your book/story to get an idea about the nature of the world your author has created. Even if that world is largely unstated, there should be indicators that give you a basis for making an inference. Some things to consider: what type of government exists? What type of culture or religion? What assumptions do the inhabitants of the created world have about there own civilization?

2) Write a few sentences that describe the civilization imagined by the author you read. In your response please include 1) your first name and last initial, 2) the name of the author, 3) the name of the book/story, and 4) a description that provides the essence of the fictional civilization. PLEASE POST YOUR RESPONSE IN A COMMENT BELOW.

Here is my submission:

  1. RMS
  2. Ray Bradbury
  3. ‘The Martian Chronicles’
  4. Bradbury’s civilization on Mars is, first and foremost, difficult to figure out even after 50 pages. Martians seem to be entirely defensive against repeated attempts to be contacted by other civilizations, viz. us. They communicate telepathically and music seems to play a major role in their lives. They hunt giant bees and masks of many types are fundamental for defining (or not) the culture. Lucid dreams and psychic projections are possible and hallucinations commonplace. It appears that the Martians use illusion, hypnosis, and memory as defensive weapons against outsiders (Earthmen). Ultimately, the Martians are unsuccessful at keeping others out and their civilization collapses after most of them die from a disease brought by Earthmen. Civilization itself, it seems, is fleeting and preserved only in memory and illusion.

14 responses to “Assignment #2: The Civilizations of Sci-Fi

  1. Nathan Manrique

    1) Nathan M. 2) Poul Anderson 3) The People of The Wind 4) In the people of the wind, the author attempts to create a civilization with aspects such as job specialization (Mathematicians and medics), cultural conflicts (Cloths vs. Ythrians), cities, and a written language. The author also attempts to create a social hierarchy in which some people hunt and gather and some are wealthy and capable of intergalactic travel.


  2. 1) JLS
    2) Isaac Asimov
    3) “Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus”
    4) The civilization of Aphrodite on Venus is quite an advanced one. The planet itself is part of the Solar Confederation, a large governing body including Earth and the rest of the solar system. (This seems to be a republic, yet it is hard to know for sure). Due to the planets massive oceans, there is a large amount of seaweed, making up the majority of the planets exports. Mainly they trade for Earth for machinery in order for them to be able to convert water to oxygen, using as much energy per year as the entire continent of South America, yet they have only a thousandth the population. To run this machinery is the Council of Science on Venus, a sort of sub-governing body. The Council of Science on Venus also found a way to make seaweed into a sort of yeast, in turn making that yeast into any food imaginable (so they don’t have to import so much). On the planet there exists a colony of “v-frogs” that telepathically invade some people’s minds and control them, trying to bring about the destruction of the city Aphrodite. (The city is domed, partially underwater.) There seems to be no religion in this civilization.


  3. 1. Chang A 2. Isaac Asimov 3. “lucky starr and the pirates of the asteroids” 4. The people in the book own an extremely advanced technology. They live in the inner part of Moon, Mars and Jupiter. As a fully developed society, everything can be explained scientifically, so probably they only believe in science. Their governments are probably the people in the society itself. They love quiet, everyone is a scientist. Their civilization is complicated and basically a combination.


  4. Nicholas K
    Poul Anderson
    7 Conquests: Book 1: Kings Who Die

    After reading the entirety of Book One, I learned several important facets of the civilization described in the story. The story takes place in a futuristic society where the world is once again at war. However, the war has now shifted to an entirely new environment; space, the final frontier. The United States and its’ allies have a “space war” against a unified Asia, also known as “Unasia”. The US has shifted into a military-dominant society, as soldiers, including main character Martín Diaz, are treated with high honor and respect. Both sides are incredibly technologically advanced, so much so that the Unasian leaders have computer chips infused into their brains. Overall, this society seems like a dystopian environment in which the living situations are not ideal.


  5. 1. JFM
    2. Murray Leinster
    3. “Space Tug”
    4. Leinster’s “Space Tug” starts out on Earth but after 30 pages is in orbit of Earth. There is lots of communication from the ship to command and from command to Washington DC. That clearly shows that there are different ranks in the government. There is loads of tension between the Soviets and the Americans as well. The issue of the beginning of the book is whether or not the Soviets will shoot down the space station or not. There is not much religion involved but the men in the ship do pray before take off. The civilization its self is very organized because of the amazing communication and that the men in charge are so good at what they do.


  6. 1) William M

    2) Poul Anderson

    3) The Devil’s Game

    The Devil’s Game seems to starts out in a world where magic is a commonplace. But as you read on, you realize that this book is actually set in the present day on earth. The only difference is the main character, Sunderland Haverner, can talk to a spirit named Samael. In the book there are numerous references to the United States and the island country of Santa Ana. The island’s government is very close to that of the United States. On the islands is a society of natives whose culture is not explained but is taken to be like that of the American Indians.
    Samael does not seem to be malicious, and seems to know everything Haverner knows, and more. At Sameal’s instructions, Haverner has invited seven people to be part of a psychological experiment in which a winner will be given one million dollars. After the psychological tests, two people are dead and one needs psychological rehabilitation. Although initially one would think the people represent the seven sins, you come to realize they are both the sins and the virtues. In conclusion, the book shows civilization must have a balance between sins and virtues, and science and religion


  7. 1. Edward Z
    2. Alan E. Nourse
    3. ‘Tiger by the Tail and Other Science Fiction Stories’ (Letter of the Law)
    4. In one of the Science Fiction stories named ‘Letter of the Law’, the civilization is shown as very dependent on trickery. This civilization is told to revolve around lies, and its economy and politics revolve around lies. The citizens on top of Altair’s (the place where the story takes place) social heirarchy are said to be the individuals who are able to lie the best. The main currency in the planet is their land, and the Altairians land is extremely important to themselves. They hold trials, but the only reason they do this is to accommodate a pact with other planets to do this. The leaders of this world are the best at lying and are said to be so good at lying that they make others have no way of proving that they are lying. This civilization find telling the truth very useless and not important.


  8. 1) Weaver L.

    2) Poul Anderson

    3) ‘Flandry of Terra’

    4) In this science fiction novel, the main character Flandry, is a captain in the Imperial Terrestrial Navy of the Empire, a civilization that covers many planets in space. The people in this civilization move between planets via high-speed airships that are piloted by robots and it seems that most males join the military. On each planet they have normal and flying cars, and boats as well. Each planet has a somewhat distinct culture with music and different trades that vary by planet. The Empire also has nobility and other forms of royalty that rule their civilization.


  9. Jack B
    Poul Anderson
    “Three Worlds to Conquer”

    The worlds described in this world are very dystopian. Ganymede where the beginning of the story is set, is a relatively normal mining community that is visited by a mysterious, potentially harmful space destroyer. No one in the Ganymede colony has been to Earth in a while, but they describe a worldwide civil war that killed thousands. Life has also been discovered on Jupiter and Fraser, the main character, communicates with an alien prince by way of clicks and words, a language developed over time, as neither race wanted to change their ways completely.


  10. 1.Michael Gasper
    2.Poul Anderson
    3.The Rebel Worlds
    4. The civilization in “The Rebel Worlds” lives in a time were there is an intergalactic war between the Barbarians and the Terran Empire. Although it is difficult to tell how each civlization behaves after only 35 pages, I can infer that the barbarians are barbaric while the Terrans have a more organized civilization. Both civilizations live in long ships in outer space. I can also infer that the Terran Empire is growing weak because the two main characters (McCormac and Flandry) are trying to save it from becoming a corrupt empire.


  11. 1) Noah T
    2) Philip K. Dick
    3)Now Wait For Last Year

    4) The civilization in this story is difficult to understand. There is currently an inter-planetal war going on that seems to have been going on for a while and earth is currently losing and probably will lose. It is set in the future on Earth and even with the technological advancements, life seems to be a dystopia, much like in George Orwell’s 1984. With the technological advancements, the life span is to be a lot longer than it is now. The main character, Dr. Eric Sweetscent, says about Gino Molinari, who is a very important man and Dr. Sweetscent’s patient , ” He’ll never die… Now, we puny mortals; at our age… At a miserable thirty or thirty-three.” They believe that their person in charge is a god living among men and seems to be their only form of religion. Life seems to be a long and miserable one even though it should be very enjoyable as they are in a losing war with a sick immortal man in charge who they believe is a god.


  12. Dinesh Das Gupta

    1. DDG

    2. Phillip K. Dick

    3. ‘The Crack in Space’

    4. Dick’s futuristic civilization is quite comparable to our civilization in many ways. In the beginning, the American society is in the midst of electing a black or “Col” president even though it is based in the 2180s ( a little too late). Also, there are parallels between their technology and ours. They have “vidphones”, comparable to Skype on a smartphone, satellites hovering around the earth, and a sort plane for transportation. At the same time, they have time machines, automated food, artificial human parts, and highly advanced weapon systems. They also have similar problems to us such as gross overpopulation, rampant racism, cartels (in Germany in this world), inequality, and abundance of weapons readily available to anyone. Unlike in reality, where the environment is a real concern, they seem to have done away with it completely, with few plants, and mostly artificial food. They also have values that may seem questionable today, but to them is essential. They freeze people in warehouses to avoid rampant growth and highly discourage pregnancies. Also, the men pay to go to a fun house (a.k.a. sex) on a satellite where there are 5,000 women to choose from to satisfy their lust, and go hunting in Africa. Ultimately, they find a portal to a parallel universe which they end up colonizing to free everyone from the storage warehouses.


  13. 1. SEM
    2. H.G. Wells
    3. ‘The Time Machine’
    4. Most of the book The Time Machine takes place in the future on earth at 802,701 AD. There are two types of creatures, the Morlocks and the Eboi. The Time Traveler befriends the Eboi and fears the Morlocks. He discovers the Eboi, who are small, fragile human-like creatures live in a communist society and only eat fruit. They live in large cities with weakening futuristic buildings. The Morlocks on the other hand live underground and feed on Eboi, which they hunt at night because they fear light. He determines that the Morlocks come from the humans that were the working class society and the Eboi come from the humans that were the upper class society.


  14. 1. Zack (Zachary) G
    2. Poul Anderson
    3. The People of the Wind
    4. Within the book The People of the Wind, Poul Anderson actually creates two separate (albeit closely tied together) civilizations: the Terran Empire, which is populated by humans, and the Ythrian Domain, whose people are the birdlike Ythri. The Terran Empire closely resembles modern western culture, except with futuristic inventions such as gravity belts that enable flying, while the Ythrian Domain, populated by the birdlike Ythri, has a unique culture of its own. They appear to be organized similarly to ancient tribal humans with various houses that have different customs. Alliances were formed between houses and marriages often brought these together. Additionally, they have cities, writing, job specialization, and The Ythri Domain owns the planet of Avalon, which the only planet where both humans and Ythri live together. The Ythri Domain and Terran Empire border, and they both expect war to break out between them, meaning tensions are high.


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