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Chapter 1

ENG 254 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: A. E. Van Vogt, Darko Suvin


Department
English
Course Code
ENG 254
Professor
Flynn Kevin
Chapter
1

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Write! an! essay! (ca.! 6! pages)! in! response! to! one! of! the! following! questions,! taking!
care! to! support! your! argument! with! carefully! chosen! evidence! from! the! text.! You!
may,! if! you! wish,! write! on! a! topic! that! you’ve! devised! yourself;! however,! if! you!
choose! to! do! so! you! must! clear! this! with! me! in! writing! no! later! than! one! week! in!
advance!of!the!due!date.!
!
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The!essay!is!due!in!class!on!Thursday,!February!26.!Please!note!the!guidelines!
regarding!late!submission!of!essays!on!the!course!outline.!Electronic!versions!will!
not!be!accepted.!
!
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1.!In!“Black!Destroyer,”!A.E.!van!Vogt!could!have!made!Coeurl!any!kind!of!creature!
he!chose:!a!robot,!a!5-headed!monstrosity,!a!gelatinous!blob,!etc.!Yet!he!chose!to!cast!
Coeurl!in!the!form!(mostly)!of!a!cat.!Why!do!you!suppose!he!chose!to!do!this?!How!
does!Coeurl’s!(mostly)!feline!form!contribute!both!to!the!story’s!action!and!the!
humans’!responses!to!what!turns!out!to!be!an!exceptionally!lethal!enemy?!In!
answering!this!question,!it!may!be!useful!to!think!about!the!role!of!estrangement!in!
all!of!this.!
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2.!In!her!essay!“Science!Fiction!and!Mrs.!Brown,”!Ursula!K.!Le!Guin!argues!that!
science!fiction!has!been!reluctant!to!craft!fleshed-out,!realistic!charactersthe!kind!
of!person!you!might!meet!in!one!of!your!classes!or!at!work,!for!instance,!or!Mrs.!
Brown,!sitting!across!from!you!in!a!train.!Le!Guin!puts!it!this!way:!“Could!it!be!that!
Mrs.!Brown!is!actually,!in!some!way,!too!large!for![a]!spaceship?!That!she!is,!you!
might!say,!too!round!for!it—so!that!when!she!steps!into!it,!somehow!it!all!shrinks!to!
a!shiny!tin!gadget,!and!the!heroic!captains!turn!to!cardboard![…]?”!With!Le!Guin’s!
question!in!mind,!consider!the!human!characters!of!“Black!Destroyer.”!Do!any!of!
them!approach!the!standard!of!a!Mrs.!Brown?!That!is,!do!any!of!them!approach!the!
level!of!a!fully!fleshed-out!character?!If!so,!who,!and!why?!If!not,!why!not?!!
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3.!Discuss!the!role!of!religion!(and/or!myth)!in!“A!Queen!in!Thebes.”!In!what!ways!
are!the!characters!informed!by,!or!attached!to,!religious/mythical!values,!and!how!
do!they!respond!to!these!differently?!Is!the!story!entirely!pessimistic!about!religion,!
or!does!it!allow!for!some!ways!in!which!it!might!be!valuable?!(One!way!to!approach!
this!question!might!be!to!consider!the!ways!in!which!secular!objects!in!the!story!are!
invested!with!religious/mythical!significance!for!the!characters.)!
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