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What can aliens mean in SF texts? 

 

Learning episode 7:  

 

Purpose and use of this learning episode: 'Enemy Mine' and the Alien Creation task + short story 'The Ticket Whisperer'

 

The notes, below, were given to secondary students as their seventh learning episode in the 'enemy within' theme area. One important film, a major task and an original story were accessed in electronic form as allowed through local Copyright laws. .

 

The learning episode starts with the film given out on CD-ROM to those studying as flexible learning (compliant with Copyright guidelines) and shown in the classroom using a computer and overhead projector for others. The discussion occurred in the myclasses Forum area and some images and links from the original have been changed for the changed copyright guidelines for this space, outside the government school intranet, as noted in the page 'about the mySF Project'.

 

An original short story by David Rade is also introduced in this learning episode, as well as a major task, the 'Alien creation' task.

 

Image of alien for learning episode 7Index

Forum topics for discussion

Notes for 'Enemy Mine'

Short story 'The Ticket Whisperer'
Full text of 'The Ticket Whisperer'
Assessment task: 'Alien creation task'

Resource List

Readings and Links

Ongoing readings and links

 

The points at the start of these notes are to be discussed in the Forum area. You are asked to jump to the Forum area, using the link here and making a comment in the appropriate Forum thread. Please remember, your participation in discussions is expected in this study, as part of your overall participation.

 

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Forum topics for discussion:

 

 

Why does the film Enemy Mine focus on the religion of the Dracs? What does this contribute to the idea of aliens?

 

Is the alien more or less 'other' or different from humans because he/she gave birth? Was this a major part of the film?

 

Is the human's raising of the Drac child unlikely and does this weaken the story?

 

Who is seen as the most worthy of respect in the film, the Drac or the human?

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Notes for 'Enemy Mine':

 

The great biologist Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, arguing that the best adapted animal survives. This notion of 'the survival of the fittest' has direct bearing on Science Fiction (SF) and Enemy Mine (Peterson, 1985) as the film depicts a struggle between humans and a reptilian humanoid lifeform, called a Drac. The start of the movie talks about human expansion into space looking for habitable planets. As the humans reach out they find the Dracs "claiming squatters' rights" and the two species engage in skirmishes in space.

 

In a text looking at philosophy in SF, Alsford notes that, "every generation creates its aliens out of the hopes and fears of its not-too-distant past."  The fear in Enemy Mine is of humans losing in direct competition, "destroyed or dominated by alien competitors in the Darwinian life-or-death struggle" (Alsford, 2000:50). The film portrays a no-holds-barred battle between humans and reptiles in distant space, until the two warriors from their small fighter craft are marooned on a difficult moon with many present dangers.

 

The human warrior hates the Drac and it was his willingness to follow down the Drac fighter and destroy it utterly that led to the death of the human navigator. Alsford notes that the second half of the twentieth century saw several texts where aliens and humans set aside their differences, such as in Enemy Mine and in van Vogt's Co-operate or Else! "where a human and an alien find that their survival on an inhospitable world requires them to suppress their xenophobic tendencies and work together" (Alsford, 2000:51).

 

The xenophobic tendencies are seen clearly in Enemy Mine where the humans are trying to exterminate the Dracs, but this reversed as a "symbiotic relationship" starts on the rugged moon (Nicholls & Clute, 1995) as the two adversaries must cooperate to survive, and with time and limited success against their environment, the two find friendship and even more.

 

While some critics such as Scheib (1998) say that Enemy Mine is a simple remake of John Boorman's Hell in the Pacific there are elements of this film that are certainly not found in the war film, nor in many other SF films.

 

Enemy Mine is an unusual SF film because of the introduction of both gender and parenthood, as well as religious beliefs, in its narrative.

 

Gender and parenthood

 

It is surprising to many viewers when the Drac is pregnant and dies in childbirth. Even though the movie did announce that the reptiles were neither male nor female at the start, the human is left with the dilemma of first, watching his new friend die, and then in looking after the Drac child. By this stage the human has learnt enough of the Drac culture to respect the traditions and even the religion of these reptiles, and the end of the film depicts the human fighting other humans to keep the Drac child safe.

 

The focus on gender in this story distinguishes the text from many others depicting human contact with aliens, as so is the focus on religion.

 

Religious and cultural beliefs of the Dracs

Quite close to the start of the story after the human and Drac arrive on the planet the Drac asks the name of the humans' great teacher. The human replies, sardonically, 'Mickey Mouse' and then is stuck with this answer as the Drac continues to refer with some respect to the human god-being as Mickey Mouse.

 

It is very clear that the Drac is a religious being who meditates and prays quite regularly, reading from a small, silver book as part of his practise. This ritual looks quite like careful religious observance and it is at the conclusion of the movie that we see the human introducing the Drac child to Drac culture by reciting the names of the ancestors, similar to a Shinto observance.

 

As with the focus on gender, the focus on religion is unusual in SF although it is found in some texts.

The Enemy Mine film does add to the discussion of the role of aliens seen in the theme study of The Enemy Within. It follows Alien Nation as it contributes to an understanding of the 'otherness' of the alien. The story asks the viewer to accept the culture and religion of the Drac's as worthy, regardless of the very strange appearance, language, food and some habits. In fact, Enemy Mine almost seems to suggest that the Drac culture is more worthy than the human culture of the time. It is the human who must redeem himself by protecting the Drac child and battling other humans to show human values.

 

Like Alien Nation, Enemy Mine discusses the 'other' and alterity using the reptilian alien, but the discussion is a plea for inclusion, tolerance and mutual understanding.

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The Ticket Whisperer:

 

Whereas Enemy Mine can be seen as a call for more inclusivity, tolerance and mutual respect for difference (even very great difference between the 'other' Drac and the future human), the short story 'The Ticket Whisperer' (Rade, 2006) explores different themes.

 

This short story is from a contemporary Australian writer and it is an example of a way of writing about alien encounters very unlike HG Wells' The War of the Worlds and many of the other texts in this theme area of The Enemy Within. Here in 'The Ticket Whisperer' there is an alien who is situated in a regional, bushland setting of Australia, perhaps near the Australian Alps but called Selwyn. On a converted farm the Reynella Institute has been set up to look after the Old Ones. Unlike in many horror genre stories, the Old Ones do not seem to be threats from an underworld of Hell, but are instead a small number of alien creatures that arrived before white settlement of the bush.

 

The Reynella Institute looks after the Old Ones in little sheds and wards and it seems that the aliens are demented. They are certainly 'Other' - the alien in this story is more crab-like or refrigerator-like than anything else and it has burrowed itself a pit in the ground where it circles, digging with the stump of one crab-like claw.

In 'The Ticket Whisperer' the alien expresses alterity and the otherness of its appearance, behaviour and purpose is certainly the novum of this short story, but for our study it also expresses a new aspect of the alien - the unknowable.

 

From the earliest times of Wells and his Darwinian competitor for the Earth's resources, down through The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers aliens have appeared as critiques of our society or as analogies of current problems, as in Alien Nation.

 

More modern writers, such as David Rade, imagined aliens who were inconceivable to humans. That is, their thought processes, behaviour and cultural expression is so different, so Other, that they are impossible to understand or to describe accurately. This may parallel the decline of religious belief in Western societies, or the idea that if a God exists at all, His capacity and Otherness makes Him unknowable, at least to humans.

 

The short story 'The Ticket Whisperer' is offered here as a short example of contemporary Australian SF writing as well as a prelude to a major SF film, recently remade with George Clooney, called Solaris, to be discussed and analysed in learning episode nine. Nicholls and Clute (1995) note that "The greatest difficulty sf writers face with respect to the alien is that of depicting something authentically strange". Sometimes the aliens seem far too human in their thought and speech and this is not the case in 'The Ticket Whisperer'. Writers have made impressive attempts "to present the alien not merely as unfamiliar but also as unknowable" (Nicholls & Clute, 1995) and elements of this were also seen in Damon Knight's 'Stranger Station'.

 

Students interested in the unknowable alien may also find further references in the Readings and Links section, below, to writings by Philip K Dick (author of 'The Father Thing' focusing on unknowable alien life-forms.

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Full text of Rade's 'The Ticket Whisperer', with permission

 

The Ticket Whisperer

 

By David Rade

 

Andrew stood to the left of the auditorium doors and collected ticket stubs. He was a tall young man looking every bit the manager for the night, organising the School of Music performance front of house then pouring champagne and wine at interval. Others would be cleaning and resetting the auditorium so he could slip away as soon as most patrons left, to meet his father at the Union bar at ten past ten.

 

With his dark hair, intent gaze and black suit, Andrew held out his left hand, took the tickets, tore them neatly, and returned half with his right hand. He nodded and smiled faintly, his eyes clear and focused. Every now and then he took the ticket stubs collected in the palm of his right hand and slipped them into his coat pocket. While Andrew appeared politely diffident, he let the semblance of the patrons flow directly to his memory. He made no attempt to watch the bald man and his wife in the white cardigan, nor the small man with the beard, nor the three girls chatting together. Instead, he let their faces, their walks, even their clothes course to his memory. It had served him through three years of Law study, trained by careful practise as well as his father’s peculiar requirements.

The concert was a great success with two standing ovations for the Chamber Orchestra’s ‘Players’ visit to Selwyn. Andrew arrived late at the wine bar and found his father in the corner booth, where the flat screen displayed a WiFi channel’s football game. His father wore a rust coloured jacket and threadbare corduroys. He leant over a mug of coffee, his eyes gazing up at the plasma screen with his tanned forehead wrinkled in consternation. He spoke as soon as he saw his son, “You know, they have cameras everywhere, frame-by-frame replays, computer generated SMs to see where the ball might have gone, but still the Ref can’t see that the player is taking a dive.”

 

Andrew’s father was stout with a strong grip. He shook his son’s hand vigorously and then they embraced with a perfunctory clap on the back.

 

Andrew ordered a coffee when the waitress came and settled down beside his father. The old man looked unusually tired. His eyes were watery and his cheeks thinner, bones more pronounced.

“Do you have to go back tonight? You look wrecked,” Andrew said. “Spend the night at my place, you can have the bed.”

 

“No girlfriend tonight?”

 

“Me?” Andrew protested. “All I ever do is study and work, you know that.”

 

They joked about that and then the drink came and his father ordered another coffee. Immediately Andrew knew he would drive back up to Colinton.

 

“You’re mad,” Andrew said. “It’s freezing outside and already eleven. Stay the night here. No patient needs so much attention that you have to be there every morning. Somebody else can look after him. Call someone. Dad, it’s just dangerous to drive back up that road in the middle of the night.” Andrew found himself admonishing his father for his diligence, not for the first time, and he smiled at the role reversals.

 

His father smiled sadly. “I could drive that road with my eyes shut. I think maybe I’ve done just that a few times. I know it’s late but I promised the old fellow I’d be there to read to him, talk to him in the morning. He’s my patient and I am the only one he knows and trusts. It’s a special relationship, part of the contract.”

 

Andrew started to tell his father that no contract required staff to risk their lives but he knew it would do no good. His father had worked at the Reynella Institute for over twenty-five years, since before Andrew was born. He was not going to break the habits of a lifetime because his son complained. Andrew took the ticket stubs from his right coat pocket and placed them carefully on the clean and dry table top between them. The best thing he could do was send his father on his way up the mountain in his old four wheel drive as soon as possible.

 

“I appreciate this, Andy, and I know you don’t like me driving at night but this is special …”

 

“It’s always special.”

 

“The old fellow just loves the tickets and the stories,” his father continued. “He looks forward to it all week. That’s all he thinks about, poor old sod. And I don’t think he’s got too many more days in him. It’ll be over soon, and then I can come and stay with you whenever you can get those girls out of your bed.”

 

Andrew shook his head and gulped down the black coffee. “You’re mad,” he said. “You drive yourself too hard for this guy. You could die before he does.”

 

“Maybe,” his father said, “but I gave my word and I don’t go back on that.”

 

“The ticket stories, they’re crazy,” Andrew protested, but he pulled himself upright and cleared his mind. He placed two fingers of his left hand on the top two stubs on the table. It did not matter which two, the numbers were irrelevant. The recount was everything. Andrew sighed and asked if his father was ready. His father nodded, his two brown hands wrapped around the coffee mug and his eyes on his son’s face.

 

“Mid-fifties, the gentleman tall with a slightly bent back. Glasses. Blue striped shirt, red tie, Tweed jacket and brown slacks, brown brogues. The woman grey-haired, dark red shoes, black skirt, grey top and black jacket. Gold broach on the left side, two silver chains, silver Oroton mesh bag, silk scarf….”

 

The list went on, for over ten minutes, for as long as Andrew had taken the tickets, torn them asunder and pocketed the stubs. The waitress came over to check for last orders but the old man and his son were so intent that she left them alone. Eventually, Andrew blinked and looked around and ended the list as he did always, “and that’s all.”

 

His father smiled slowly and sat back with a stifled yawn. “I got it,” he said and he scooped the ticket stubs into his coat pocket.

 

“And I’ve got to say it again, Dad. I’ve got to ask you again. Let me go, let me give the old guy the stupid tickets and let me tell him the list. I can go up there and do all that. If the old guy is so far gone, he wont possibly know the difference.” But Andrew knew his father would not agree.

 

“You go and get some sleep,” he told Andrew. “You’re all in. Enjoy your weekend and finish the degree. Then keep me in the style I deserve.” He stood and they shook hands again, formally, as if concluding business. His father’s hand stayed gripped with Andrew’s for a little too long. “The old fellow really is on the way out this time. He’s stirred up, nearly all the time. Works himself up into a lather. He can’t take too much of that.” He paused and shrugged. “Then it’ll all be different and we can have more time together.”

 

There was something troubling in his father’s eyes, something almost like fear. His hand squeezed his son’s tightly and then relaxed.

 

“Is there something wrong?” Andrew asked.

 

“Nothing,” his father said. He pulled brown leather gloves from his left coat pocket and struggled into them. “It’s just hard for me, after all these years. The old fellow is the last of his kind, you know. The last patient at Reynella, and I’m the last one to work there looking after the old fellow. Sometime soon it’ll all be over forever, for the old fellow, and for me.”

 

“And then you’ll come visit?” Andrew asked, a note of worry in his voice.

 

“Why not?” his father shrugged in reply. His father’s perennial smile was gone. He looked like a tired, old man about to perform an unpleasant task.

 

As Andrew walked home through the grounds towards his bed on the seventh floor of University House he thought of his father’s face as he spoke of the death of his patient. Andrew tried to remember the name of his father’s patient, but it had slipped from him. He wondered if he had ever known it. But he did know his father, had watched him grow more gaunt each year he was left alone up in Colinton, in the small wooden house on the edge of town. As each year passed the work at Reynella grew more important to him. And now there was only one patient left and his father looked lost, almost child-like, abandoned.

 

Andrew’s shoes clacked on the pebbled path and his breath was a regular grey mist as the cold night shrunk in around him. When he passed beneath a hovering directional light he stopped and clapped his hands together. “Okay,” he said to himself. He had decided – regardless of the tutorial presentation next Wednesday he would make a fast run up Colinton the next morning.

 

When he was warm in his bed with a Torts volume to whisper him to sleep he wondered if his father meant he would give away his work when the old guy died. Would the end of his job mean his father would give life away, following his patient down into the ground? And just how old was the patient? Ever since Andrew was a child he could remember his father talking about the ‘poor old things’ at Reynella. About the ‘old fellow’ who was close to death for over fifteen years.

 

He borrowed a little electric Toyota from a friend on the fifth floor and promised to recharge it overnight. He sent an SMS burst out saying he was offline for twenty-four, then puttered out of Selwyn and headed south to the mountains by nine. The car WiFi cut out between hills but he sent a Playlist across and listened to vintage Lucksmiths all the way up, singing along and watching the charge gauge crawl down from full.

 

To reach Reynella he switched off the GPS and turned left before driving into Colinton proper, aiming up to the rim of the lake and the homesteads built when the land was used for sheep and wheat. Colinton lost its young people when the climate changed and it seemed the town itself was going to drift away, then the Pacific rose and the middle class bought up houses in the mountains. But not Colinton. There was something about the town that kept it just off the realtor’s radar. It was a pretty valley and the lake was close by but for some reason it was just not right for those looking for a mountain home.

 

Andrew grew up in Colinton and knew its eccentricities then left his family for boarding school and never returned to live. With the death of his mother and his sister married and living in United Korea he tried to see his father as much as he could, but money was scarce and his father doggedly single-minded for his work at Reynella. Andrew could see why his father would always be in demand: his quiet strength, his persistence, a plain dignity and simple human warmth would always be needed in care for the disabled.

 

The Reynella Institute was a converted horse farm from the colonial times with a half-dozen residential houses at intervals apart from a large, plain building. The paint was chipped and the upstairs windows cloudy and partially covered by ancient linen curtains. Andrew parked in the special bays to the right and went to the front office for a validating code to plug in the Toyota. The receptionist told him his father was with a patient and would not be available until the late afternoon. Andrew’s watch chimed that it was ten-thirty. He had an e-book out in the car and at least the Toyota was warm so he sat in the passenger seat and flicked through his notes, then he saw his father’s Subaru up at a rough brown structure half way up the hill.

 

Andrew was not allowed at Reynella when he was a child. He had only ever been to Reception to meet with his father at the end of a shift. His mother did not talk about Reynella. In fact, she seemed to avoid the subject entirely, but she hated all sickness, even refusing to discuss her own cancer as it came to chip away at her until there was nothing but bone and skin left.

 

The grey clouds were variegated with pearl and smoke, running down to the rising horizon of the farmland and zip-locking it in place. There was no-one around and only a few rooms in the main building seemed to be lit and used. His father’s car was only a walk away and Andrew needed the exercise after the drive up from Selwyn. Andrew tabbed the GoreTex up to his chin and set out, cutting across the front of the main building and skirting the kitchens at the back to start the climb to the Subaru. The pale grass was thin under his boots but the soil was dry and too firm – too little feed for the few, sad ewes keeping the turf down.

 

His father told him the old fellow had his own room, but Andrew always imagined it was in the main building. He wondered if his father was visiting a workmate, but he knew there was only a skeleton staff remaining at Reynella. Andrew stopped and looked around the paddocks. No-one had seen him. Most of the out-buildings looked empty, even though tracks led to and between them. He continued walking up to the brown building and stopped beside the four-wheel drive.

 

Up close, he could see the building was more like a barn than an office or a cottage. There were wide, hinged doors and a small door set into the wall. The wide doors were padlocked and the chain was rusty. Light spilt from underneath.

 

Andrew moved to the doorway and listened. It was not entirely still inside. He could hear a sort of shuffling and a sporadic grating sound and a low, even voice, like a pleasant whisper. He recognised his father, though he could not discern the words.

 

Andrew turned the door handle and eased it open to a crack. Neon light showed white-painted timber walls with the windows boarded over. The floor was bare earth; even, grey and smooth as stone. Andrew could not see anything but now he could hear his father. He was in the middle of the list, Andrew could tell. He was up to the blonde daughter, her balding father and the mother with a back pillow, but it was not just description. His father was adding narrative. He was telling the story of the concert audience, giving them names, adding anecdotes. He could see what his father was doing, he was spinning out the list to take all day. And what a mind his father had! Andrew never suspected the insight, the discursive anecdotes of family relationship his father drew upon. He could see that his own memory was a pale gift in comparison to this effortless invention.

 

He pushed open the door and after the expanse of the bare floor he was surprised to see his father sitting in a chair beside a table, looking over a large pit. There was a bottle of water on the bare table, a cup, and some wrapped white-bread sandwiches. His father had not heard the door open. He spoke down into the pit and as he spoke he saw his father throw down a single ticket stub, without pausing in his narrative. There was sound coming from the pit, the scraping and shuffling sound and as the ticket stub was dropped the sound stopped momentarily and then started again.

 

Andrew stepped into the barn and looked at the pit. He saw the concavity was a wide circle falling down into the packed earth out of sight. He stepped closer, taking care that his father should not be disturbed. The pit had walls where the layers of earth and sediments made bands of age, lit by the overhead fluorescents. He stepped forward again and saw a red shape in the pit, moving. It looked like a part of a machine, with a muted and dull metal surface. He could do nothing more than step forward further and saw the red shape, like a rounded refrigerator but with jointed legs and one outstretched limb shuffling around the wall shaft. The outstretched limb was clear to sight and then disappeared below the lip of the pit as the red shape turned. It was like a crab claw, except the claw was missing, worn off. There was a raw stump terminating in a long, thin blade, like a nail or a horn, with a pale and viscous fluid beading along its length.

 

His father saw him and stopped speaking. He held a ticket stub in his hand and the stub fell down into the pit. The thing in the pit stopped.

 

Nothing moved, nothing was said and then his father rasped, “You shouldn’t have come.”

The words seemed to break the spell for Andrew. He moved up to the edge and looked down. His father jumped to his feet and shouted, “Get back!” His father’s anger made Andrew retreat. Ticket stubs from his father’s lap fell to the ground, a few fluttering down into the pit. There was a sound of shuffling again, but rapid. There was a sound of something heavy striking the earthen wall down in the pit. A low, rapid and irregular clicking sound came up to Andrew.

 

“What is that thing?” Andrew demanded. “What are you doing with it?”

 

His father was panting. He looked down to the shaft and then back to his son. “It’s the old fellow. This is my patient. You’re not meant to know about this. Please, before we hurt him, just leave. Right now!”

 

“Your patient? They put patients in pits in Reynella?” As he spoke Andrew wondered what he meant. Where would be the right place for that thing?

 

“No, it’s not like that, Andy. No-one put him anywhere. He made the pit, going round like that. He’s so sad and lonely. He’s all alone. He was here before Reynella started. This is a place where they come, like a place to recover, or a nice place to die for their sort. They come from all over: different planets, different times. The first settlers met them and even helped them. It was the Shanley family that built Reynella, to help the old ones like him. I’ll tell you later. I have to calm him down now or we might hurt him. Later, okay?”

 

The clicking sound grew louder. The floor vibrated with blows from the creature. “Dad, get away from the edge!”

 

His father turned back to the pit, holding out one arm straight and stiff to his son and warning him away. His voice was shaky as he spoke down into the hollow by his feet, “It’s okay, he’s with me. That’s my son. He takes the tickets. It’s alright. Nothing’s going to harm you or me. Let’s just go on, okay? Ticket E26,” he continued desperately, “a …a woman in her thirties with hair held in place by a black comb, black as obsidian. This is Eleanor and she plays the clarinet. Her husband does not share her love for music and her son is being cared for at home where they are watching a show called ‘Tinsel Town’. Eleanor wanted to be a professional musician but …”

 

There was a heaving sound and the red arm of the thing in the pit rose above the lip, arcing from behind to slice Andrew’s father at the back of his legs. Andrew rushed forward but was not in time to stop his father collapsing forward and then rolling to his right, tilting, clawing at the edge and then falling over. Andrew dived forward, landing on his chest on the bare floor and sliding to look down, his arms outstretched grasping for his father.

 

The lights above made it perfectly clear. The creature was crab-like, but cylindrical, with only one shattered arm, now oozing with liquid that dripped about it. It was right on top of his father moving about on the body that twitched and shuddered until there was bright blood on its carapace and leg joints. It became absolutely still, all at once. Andrew knew it was watching him. The legs were bunched below it, ready to spring and cut him down into the pit to join the broken body of his father.

Andrew pushed himself backwards and away, screaming for help until he backed into the table and slid sideways onto the chair beside it, knocking over the water and food.

 

Andrew felt it in his mind, a great, close and deep voice saying, “Tell me, tell me,” its voice was the tolling of a vast bell.

 

Andrew could barely breathe. He was acutely aware that no-one was near and his father lay dead in the pit before his feet, down below, where the immense and close voice commanded him.

“Tell me. Tell me.”

 

Andrew saw the tickets lying by the scuff marks his boots had made. He could do nothing more than reach down and pick up the stub. It was as thin and dry as a scale or a flake of skin in his hand. It was number R 09, a seat high up at the back of the Circle, on the left hand side as you looked down on to the stage. And it was as if he was looking down at the stage as the musicians carried in their cellos and violins and violas, but he was also looking down into the shaft where the eyeless and ancient red carapace looked back and waited to be told.

 

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Alien creation task for student groups and individuals

 

Alien Creation Task, Due Friday 16 June at the latest, worth 20%

 

The Alien Creation task requires students to create an alien creature as appropriate to our study of Science Fiction in the mySF Project, the Enemy Within theme area.

 

Students can work in groups of up to four or on their own, in consultation and with approval from their teacher, either in person or through email contact.

 

The alien is an actual artifact. It cannot be invisble, or microscopic, or have just slipped into another dimension for a moment. The alien must be displayed and discussed so it must be seen and perhaps even able to move or be touched, or even consumed!

 

Aliens can be mechanical, papier mache, models or any other device that is not dangerous to other students, the school buildings or classroom furniture. Examples might be motorised cars with special features, plasticine models, edible aliens made from cake, or any other highly imaginative combination. Past student examples on video are available on request from the teacher.

 

The alien must be unique. It must not resemble an alien from our studies or from other sources. It must spring fully formed from the fertile minds of the collective or the individual genius.

 

The alien creation will be displayed and discussed and it is the discussion and defence of the alien that is assessed for the mySF unit.

 

The presentation of the alien creation will take about ten minutes per group or less for an individual. All group members must speak and present with their oral and written presentations marked according to the attached document. All presentations will be followed by difficult questions from peers and perhaps the teacher. Some presentations may be video taped and digitised with the permission of students, for internal moderation use only.

 

For students studying flexibly and not attending classes, you will need to create a digital slideshow in PowerPoint or a film in Movie Maker and submit this through the myclasses portal. You will also need to create a voice over narration of your description of the alien creation and of course you can add sound effects, dialogue and other effects as you choose. After you submit the alien creation as a digital movie or PowerPoint file you will be contacted by the teacher with specific questions about the creation and you are expected to answer these questions. Please check the rubric sheet for the assessment scheme.

 

If there are any problems or clarifications needed please approach your teacher by email through the myclasses mymail system, or in person.

 

Good luck!

 

 

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Resource List:

 

Alsford, M.   (2000). 'Aliens We'. What If?: Religious Themes in Science Fiction. London: Darton, Longman & Todd.

 

Nicholls, P., & Clute, J., (Eds.)     (1995). Grolier Science Fiction: the multimedia encyclopedia of Science Fiction. Danbury, Danbury, CT: Grolier Electronic Publishing.

 

Peterson, W. (Director). (1985). Enemy Mine. Written by Khmara, E. DVD Version. Twentieth Century Fox. 2001.

 

Rade, D. (2006). 'The Ticket Whisperer'. Retrieved 1 June, 2006 from http://adhs.act.edu.au/myraw/File/act/adeahs/msisley/ticket_whsperer_david_rade.doc

 

Scheib, R. (1998). 'Enemy Mine'. Retrieved 1 June, 2006 from http://www.moria.co.nz/sf/enemymine.htm

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Readings and links:

 

 

Film of Crichton's novel, 'The Andromeda Strain', discussed in Wikipedia

 

Gregory Benford's article 'Pascal's Terrible Silence' from his series 'A Scientist's Notebook', in Fantasy and Science Fiction, written in 2001. Well worth a read.

 

Ongoing readings and links:

 

 

Electronic text of 'The Father Thing' by Phillip K Dick

 

Electronic text of Damon Knight's 'Stranger Station'

 

Electronic text of Octavia Butler's 'Bloodchild'

 

Podcast 1 of overview of Aliens in SF, 5M mp3 file for download and playing

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enemy within  brave new world fate and predestination the shape of things to come ghost in the shell
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