Title

Panspermia

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Closed Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

Department

English and Theatre

First Advisor

R. Dean Johnson

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Second Advisor

Carter Sickels

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Third Advisor

Young Smith

Department Affiliation

English and Theatre

Abstract

Panspermia is a collection of short stories set (mostly) in a near-future world. The stories included follow an arc starting in an early 90s arcade and ending with the founding of a new civilization on a distant planet. Technology plays a major part in each of the stories—ranging from video games to a Neuromancer-level artificial intelligence—providing the characters with means for work, leisure and, in one odd case, a romantic relationship. Most of the stories come to the reader through a variety of first-person narrators, thus offering a look at the world through many sets of eyes while also incorporating several unique voices. While some characters—both narrator and otherwise—do appear in more than one story, such appearances are often in very different capacities on a per-story basis.

The stories are arranged in an order denoting the rising and falling of the world—society as a whole—around the characters. Those stories appearing before the central story, “Gerald’s War,” show the world at, or rising to, its peak; the stories following that middle point offer a character-driven look at a post-apocalyptic world, showing how those involved cope with the loss of technology (in direct comparison to the loss of loved ones) and how that impacts their worldview. Though post-apocalyptic tales have saturated the current market, the focus for Panspermia’s stories set in such an era spend less time focusing on surviving the barren landscape and more time focusing on the relationships between characters and what fragments of their previous existences still survive.

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