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Functions of Science Fiction in Young Adult Literature

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Nicholas Shahbazi

on 20 April 2014

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Transcript of Functions of Science Fiction in Young Adult Literature

Ender’s Saga as a Scaffolding for Critical Literacy
Forging Zero by Sara king
Alien Invasion
Heroes Journey
Moral Dilemma
Author Orson Scott Card's Current Controversy
In 1990 Orson Scott Card wrote an article for Sunstone magazine, condemning homosexuality in members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
In this article Card admits that homosexuality is, most likely, genetic.
However, he then goes on to say that fact is "laughably irrelevant" as "We are all genetically predisposed toward some sin or another."
So. Should we boycott the artistic works of a member of the Mormon church who criticizes "the faithful" who attempt to "live in sin" while being members of the church? If so, then why?
Postcolonial Theory
Colonialist Oppression
Anti-colonialist resistance (psychological)
Othering (similar to postmodernity)
Colonialist Ideology
Applying The Theory
Lion's Gate On Card
Director Gavin Hood and Producer Bob Orci claim to have the "opposite view" of Card (Finn).
"Card won’t receive any money from ticket sales, as his contract limited his profit to a payment made several years ago" (Smith).
Congress invades Earth in order to gain resources and soldiers, Part of an intergalactic expansion
Joe Dobs, an accidental recruit, is forced to join the Congressional Ground Force resulting in an ongoing struggle for Dobs, or Zero, to resist.
Humans are repeatedly treated as the Other, picked on for being less intelligent, strong, and resilient as other species.
As a result of this otherness, humans become subalterns, serving as tools for the Congress.
Eventually Zero's ground force of humans begins to mimic the habits of other species: thoughts, tactics, and customs are all shared and adopted.
Zero's identity begins to come into question. He no longer sees himself as an earthling, but something in between.
The protagonist goes so far as to perpetuate the Ideologies held by Congress onto other life forms.
Why Boycott?
Skipendersgame.com, one of the earliest advocates of the boycott states, "Skip Ender’s Game is about keeping the money you, I, and our friends work hard to earn from going to Orson Scott Card’s antigay activism. If you buy a ticket to Ender’s Game, he gets money—he’s the book’s author" (Skip Ender's Game).
Since we know Card has already received all the profit he will get for the proceeds of the film, is it really logical to boycott a Mormon artist for upholding the tenets of Mormonism?
If so, should we boycott Freud, Bukowski, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Woody Allen? How do we separate?
Art is useful even after the artists aren't.
The philosophies inherent in the life story of Andrew Wiggin helped me understand differences in people as I was growing up.
The Hierarchy of Foreignness is a philosophy of non-violence, understanding, and tolerance.
Ender's Saga also serves as excellent scaffolding for critical literacy in reluctant readers.
Race Theory
Institutional Racism
Internalized Racism
Intraracial Racism
Double Consciousness
Application of Race Theory
Ender's Game

The first book in the four-part series following the life of Andrew "Ender" Wiggin.
Brilliant child/military mind who is eventually "tricked" into causing the extinction of the Buggers, an alien species who previously attacked earth.
"I was ordering pilots to go in and die and I didn't even know it."
Ender's effectiveness against all enemies throughout the first book comes from his ability to first learn to understand and love his enemy.
Tell me about
Speaker for the Dead

After the destruction of the buggers, Andrew finds and is contacted by the last Hivequeen.
It is because of this that he writes
The Hivequeen and The Hegemon
. Since he signed it as "The Speaker for the Dead" rather than using his name, however, the book's success causes his childhood nickname, "Ender," to mutate into a galaxy wide curse; "Ender the Xenocide."
Through near light-speed travel Ender finds himself only a few years older as mankind comes in contact with another sentient race.

Congies discriminate against all humans.
Some humans begin to view themselves as inferior and out of place
Other members begin to enforce prejudices onto their fellow humans.
Ultimately this leads to double consciousness. One character in particular, Elf, becomes so conflicted that he attempts a suicide mission which ends with his death.
Demosthenes' Hierarchy of Foreignness
A system of evaluating populations of "foreign" life.
Utlanning are individuals who are of the same species as the subject, and are from a different region.
Framlings are individuals who are recognized as being of the same species as the subject, but who are from another planet.
Raman are individuals recognized as sentient beings who are of another species, but with whom communication is possible.
Varelse are true aliens: they are sentient beings, but are so foreign that no meaningful communication is possible with the subject. Only war with Varelse is justified (Enderverse).
Summary: Joe Dobs, known later as Zero, is forced off of earth after his planet is ransacked by aliens. However, rather than extinction, ironically there is still mass genocide, Congress requires all humans to give up ninety-eight percent of children, ages 5-12, for recruitment into their army. Zero takes the hero's journey at a great cost to himself, friends, and family. As a result, the protagonist is left in limbo deciding whether or not to help Congress, the Human race, or his squad.
Increasing Complexity of Thought
Ender's Game
asks readers to question the morality of a six year-old who kills another six year-old in self-defense.
As well as the concept of "kill or be killed" and "pre-emptive warfare"
The latter has become a prominent debate in today's political climate.

Using Feminist Theory to talk about gender
Know Thy Enemy
Speaker for the Dead goes on to show that, over time, human society will condemn--rather than glorify--the warlord (in this case "Ender the Xenocide")
Simultaneously it presents a message of hope and rehabilitation. The "Xenocide" is also the hopebringer; The Speaker for the Dead. The benevolent pastoral figure who allowed humanity to understand and love the beauty and truth of The Formics, or buggers.
Card said in an interview with Five Books, "The point of a futuristic novel isn’t to predict the future. The point is to show how humans adapt and change to deal with whatever the future brings. The skills that sci-fi readers practice are adaptability, resourcefulness, calmness in the face of change and stress."
How are women portrayed?

Are there any discriminatory aspects leveled at women?

What about other Alien lifeforms?
How is gender perceived?
Things to look for
Traditional Roles

Ender's Saga as Scaffolding for Critical Literacy
Slowly increasing Lexile scores
Ender's Game - 780L
Speaker for the Dead - 850L
Xenocide - 890L
Increasingly complicated concepts
Hierarchy of Foreignness (Speaker)
Incorporation of Portuguese (Speaker & Xenocide)
Faith-based abstinence (Xenocide)
Religious and cultural understanding (Xenocide)
What good is the work of a bigot?
With a relatively unchallenging introductory novel, the Ender's Saga hooks reluctant readers in with young characters making big differences.
Readers wanting to find out what happens to Andrew Wiggin will be forced to confront more difficult texts, increasing their reading comprehension.
The escalating difficulty of the societal criticisms in the novels form a scaffolding for mature philosophical and ethical identity construction
Should we really abandon all of this because Orson Scott Card doesn't want sexually active homosexuals to be in the Mormon church?
About the Author
Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1982
Published multiple titles in Fantasy and Sci-Fi
Prolific writer, spent 1/3 of her senior year missing school to be at home to write. Finished her first manuscript at the age of 12.

Why Teach Science Fiction?
Just like any genre, there are degrees of good writing
Science fiction allows students to distance themselves from the subjects.
Most importantly, it is what many students are reading!
Kristen Kirkman

Ugly is the New Beautiful:
Challenges to Hegemonic Beauty Norms in Scott Westerfield’s Uglies

Research Question
Does perceived beauty affect identity formation in adolescents to the point where it influences their literacy as well as their self esteem, socioeconomic status, and health?

Reader Engagement
“Readers can change from vicarious experience; they can grow, develop, ask new questions, think new thoughts, and even feel new emotions…Total engagement in a narrative world is powerful and can create internal, personal narratives of self that, some argue, might guide a reader’s behavior in the future” (Alsup 5).

Book Summary
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.
But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world – and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever. . . .

Science fiction is “that most escapist form of literature” which invites readers into “an age of ‘improved means to deteriorated ends’” (Tolkien 82-83).

“It is part of the essential malady of such days – producing the desire to escape, not indeed from life, but from our present time and self-made misery – that we are acutely conscious both of the ugliness of our works, and of their evil” (Tolkien 83).

Value of Appearance
and Self-Esteem
“We find it difficult to conceive of evil and beauty together” (Tolkien 83).

“Parents and teachers give less attention to less attractive infants and children, and they are less likely to be viewed as good, smart, cheerful, likeable, and academically gifted than their more attractive counterparts. Children themselves quickly internalize these judgments. They ascribe better personality traits to good-looking individuals and prefer them as friends” (Rhode 1037).

Socio-Economic Status
“In The Case Against Perfection, Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel notes that one byproduct of the contemporary fixation on physical attractiveness is the exacerbation of economic inequality. Appearance both reflects and reinforces class privilege. Prevailing beauty standards advantage individuals with the time and money to invest in their appearance” (Rhode 1052).

“Fluctuating asymmetry arises from random variations reflecting changes in the environment or in the response of the organism to the variation, such as toxins, climate change, food scarcity, and so on. These events serve as signals of physical fitness (because they are markers of survival abilities). In this view, with regards to attractiveness, the more symmetrical the face, the more attractive it is (that is, the greater the fitness)” (Zaidel and Hessamian 138).

Hegemonic Beauty Ideals
“The term hegemony refers to a situation in which a provisional alliance of certain social groups can exert ‘total social authority’ over other subordinate groups, not simply by coercion or by the direct imposition of ruling ideas, but by ‘winning and shaping consent so that the power of the dominant classes appears both legitimate and natural’” (Hall qtd. in Hebdige 661).

The reasons behind this presentation.
What is the name of captain Ahab's ship in
Moby Dick?
What are the three names of the Kardashians?
Adolescent interest in escapist worlds promotes avid readership, increasing critical literacy; this has the potential to affect future self-esteem, socioeconomic status, and health in adolescents as they construct their identities prior to entering adulthood.
Full transcript