Who Are You and Where Should We Seat You?

Memorial Day Weekend and an extra day to be a bit lazy and frivolous. Steve Smith emailed me a link to this online quiz called "Which science fiction writer are you?" This is a very unscientific piece of pop psychology, but it is a day off. So, I answer some questions online and it compares me me some famous sci-fi writers.

GregI answered the quiz questions honestly and the results say that I am like Gregory Benford - "A master literary stylist who is also a working scientist."
Benford is not a writer I have read, but I will check him out. I don't know that I am a "master literary stylist" but I have a background & interest in literature to be sure - and I do have I real love of science, unattached to any actual degrees in it.

KurtNext, I answered the questions in the way that I would like my answers to be.  And the result was that I came out as being like Kurt Vonnegut. That's someone I have read extensively.
The site says of the late Vonnegut, "For years, this unique creator of absurd and haunting tales denied that he had anything to do with science fiction."
I'd like to think there is some Vonnegut in me, but, if so, it's probably a smaller part of me than I imagine.

Beyond this little exercise being a diversion, what might we do with this in a classroom?

I thought about creating a similar test (though my Javascript skills would make that a slow process) based on Paul's code focusing on poets.

You could do this with a literature class at the end of the year. Have students list the qualities, style, themes of the writers studied that year.

This doesn't have to be a coding project. You could do the quiz with a 3X5 index card for each item with the author's name on back.

Then students would choose the qualities that best match their own answers. Check the names and see if there is one writer that you are choosing multiple times. A good way to get into author style.

My own card choices from the poets pack might be the cards that say: "humor, not formal poetry, everyday life" - which might get me some Billy Collins cards, or "nature, Zen" might get me two Gary Snyder cards, and so on.

You could do this with scientists, literary characters, historical figures, or leave people behind and do historical events or geographic locations.

Sure, Pony likes Cherry but...
I used to do a lesson with my middle school students at the end of the year that had them setting up elaborate table seating arrangements for a big party. All the characters from our year's reading were invited. Their job was to seat them at round tables of 6 so that there would be harmony, conversation, perhaps even a little romance.

Who do you sit Juliet next to? (Claire danes as Juliet)
I discouraged seating people from the same books together. Sure, Romeo might want to sit with Juliet, but might Juliet make a good match for Pony from The Outsiders? And if Dallas Winston from that same young adult novel was seated next to Tybalt, would they find common ground or start a brawl? Sure, Pony liked Cherry, but Cherry liked Dallas. Would Cherry then like Tybalt or Mercutio? It gets complicated. I like that.

Student explanations for their seating arrangements and the classes arguments pro & con made for lively discussion. Sometimes it was the minor characters that got all the attention.

There were lots of issues to discuss - Does it matter that characters lived hundreds of years apart? Do they need to be really close in age? Does Juliet understand English? (Yes, many students forgot it was Italy, having been lulled into English Juliets by Shakespeare, Claire Danes and Olivia Hussey.)

I used this in those difficult last weeks of the school year and wanted discussion and oral presentations rather than more writing for them (and more reading & grading for me).

This is one of several quizzes by Paul Kienitz that you might want to try out: Which Classical Composer Are You?, the much stranger Which House Paint Are You? and Which Office Supply Are You? or the more opinionated Are You A Republican

If you're curious, the sci-fi writers in Paul's quiz are:

a: Isaac Asimov
b: Alfred Bester
c: Arthur C. Clarke
d: David Brin
e: Octavia E. Butler
f: Philip José Farmer
g: Gregory Benford
h: Frank Herbert
i: Samuel R. Delany
j: Jerry Pournelle
k: Mickey Spillane
l: Ursula LeGuin
m: Stanislav Lem
n: William Gibson
o: Olaf Stapledon
p: Philip K. Dick
q: Hal Clement
r: Robert A. Heinlein
s: E.E. "Doc" Smith
t: James Tiptree, Jr.
u: Jules Verne
v: Kurt Vonnegut
w: H.G. Wells
x: Cordwainer Smith
y: Ayn Rand
z: John Brunner

According to a comment (found in the code behind Paul's page):

"So far, to my knowledge, two authors who are among the possible answers have taken the quiz, and neither came up as themslves. It told Jerry Pournelle he was Heinlein, and it told Gregory Benford he was Clarke.

So the thing's measured accuracy rate so far is 0%.

Some other authors whom I have heard of but who are not possible answers: - Joe Haldeman got Cordwainer Smith (and he also took Which Housepaint Are You?) - Pat Cadigan got Clarke, and Bester on a second try - Michael Moorcock got LeGuin - Mary Gentle has reported getting both Stapledon and Delany - Joel Rosenberg got Farmer - Neil Gaiman got Delany - L. Neil Smith got Herbert - Larry Niven got Farmer - Emma Bull got Delany Apparently there are many others who have tried it without me finding out the results. Some further writers whose work I personally am unfamiliar with: - Michael Burstein got Heinlein - Laurent Genefort got Asimov - David Dvorkin got Tiptree - Charles Stross got Heinlein."


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