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Science Fiction Literary Analysis Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2021


Fiction is a literal technique that has expanded the boundaries of talented writers and endowed literature with imaginations. Science fiction is fiction that totally explores the scientific knowledge gathered and predicted, to bring into perspective some of the societal aspects that are common to the human race. One such work of scientific fiction if “SWARM” by Bruce Sterling.


The story takes the reader through an intriguing encounter of human beings with a variety of extraterrestrial beings with the aim of outlining the theme of life. Although one might argue that life is a basic thing, very few appreciate the complexes that might surround life when seeking to survive in an environment where competition comes from more intelligent creatures. Sterling gives human beings a rather lower level in the pecking order as a way of outlining this fact. This can be seen from the conversation between Afriel and the Alien: “…we human are as children to other races…” (Shippey, p. 472). Sterling also seeks to outline the fact that life will not always provide persons with all that they want, but it will certainly provide them with the means to get what they want. Although the investor Alien looks down on humans, it admits that it likes to associate with them since they are flexibility in nature. Even in the world today success does not only mean being talented or clever, but it means being prudent, strategic and tactful. Sterling brings out the strategy employed by humans when doing business with Aliens. First Humans have ensured that they teach their ambassadors alien language (p. 473). Secondly, human beings have made their ambassadors very intelligent (p. 473). Finally, human beings have resolved to diplomacy rather than aggression. (p. 474). Tact is also demonstrated by Mirny by being able to tame two Swarms to protect her from other Swarms and in return she provides them with food.

Sterling also brings out the aspect of diversity. In describing the Swarm symbiote, it creates a vivid expression of an ugly being. Furthermore, the character of the Swarm symbiote is not very pleasant as it chews the pants of Afriel. However, Afriel still finds a way to co-exist with the Swarms. This outlines the importance of tolerance in a diverse environment. (p. 474) The way Afriel relates to the commander; who happens to be another alien demonstrates humility and tolerance. As Afriel and Mirny navigate the Swarm kingdom, there is a realization that Swarms are much more primitive and unintelligent (pp. 477-478). Even the investor Alien wonders why human beings would want to associate with Swarms (p. 472). However, as Mirny reveals to Afriel, within the Swarm kingdom there is a type of nutritious food that can grow in space.


Sterling’s work of fiction brings out various fundamental aspects concerning life. First, that competition is unavoidable due to limited resources. However, Sterling introduces aliens to bring out some basic concepts that would have been taken for granted in a real life literal piece. The investor Alien looks down upon human and feels that there is nothing that it can learn from them. Human beings on the other hand are aggressive and wishes to learn from other Aliens as much as they can regardless of their intelligence or form. Science fiction has allowed Sterling to explore extremities in terms of intelligence, ugliness and being primitive, to explain basic concepts about life. His emphasis is that life is not about intelligence, beauty or civilization but consists of basic concepts such as prudence, tact, humility and being strategic.

Work Cited

Shippey, Tom. The Oxford Book of Science Fiction. London: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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IvyPanda. "Science Fiction Literary Analysis." December 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-fiction-literary-analysis/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Science Fiction Literary Analysis." December 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/science-fiction-literary-analysis/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Science Fiction Literary Analysis'. 28 December.

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