English 140: R. Gorsch science fiction dante 308 / 631-4470



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English 140: R. Gorsch


SCIENCE FICTION Dante 308 / 631-4470

rgorsch@stmarys-ca.edu

The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the

world around you, and you take it apart into all its components. Then you

take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones,

start it up and see what happens. That's the method: restructure the world we

live in in some way, then see what happens.


Frederik Pohl, Locus (Oct. 2000)
REQUIRED TEXTS:
"FAME" = Robert Silverberg, ed., The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1 (1970). Readings from this collection will be listed in the schedule as "FAME."

H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (Dover)

Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles (Bantam)

Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End (Del Rey)

Frederick Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants (St.Martin's)

Walter M. Miller, Jr., A Canticle for Leibowitz (Bantam)

Robert A. Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land (Ace). Note: We will be using the original 1961 version of the novel--the cheap paperback--and not the later "Uncut" version.

Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; sometimes published as Blade Runner (Del Rey)

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (Ace)

William Gibson, Burning Chrome (Ace)

NOTES ON THE TEXTS:

Some additional texts (marked with * in the schedule) will be distributed in class as xeroxes or sent to you electronically as pdf. files. You should be able to open these files with Adobe Acrobat, which is a free download. If you have any trouble opening the electronic texts, please let me know as soon as possible. I will be using your official SMC email addresses to contact you. Make sure you check your Inbox.

For the books you don't necessarily have to have the editions listed here and sold in the bookstore. It will help if we can all refer to the same pages, but if you already have a copy of one or more of the books, go ahead and use them. Feel free to scour used bookstores: most of these books have been in print for decades and copies can be had for very reasonable prices.
LEARNING GOALS:


  • Engage in close reading and serious analysis of a group of science fiction texts.

  • Read with attention to the language and formal features of each text; note each writer’s use and revision of conventions of the genre and be able to relate formal features of each text to the writer’s purpose.

  • Apply appropriate critical vocabulary (“point of view,” “plot,” “genre,” “literary convention,” for example) in your analysis of texts.

  • Develop familiarity with the evolution of science fiction from the late 19th century until today; understand the place of each text studied within that evolution.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

These are simple: read carefully and seriously, participate actively in class discussions, write two to three short papers, and complete a final take-home exam in which you will use your knowledge of individual texts to comment on some aspect of science fiction as a literary genre.


A word on serious reading: Some (by no means all) of the readings are smooth sailing, so easy and amusing that you'll find yourself wondering whether it's fair to have this count for class credit. You'll have to work hard to be a serious and critical reader, and not just a "consumer." That's what I'm asking you to do: apply what you've learned in Collegiate Seminar courses and/or in other English courses to these readings; and where that doesn't work, try to figure out what will work to help you talk about them in a serious way.



SCHEDULE (REVISED):
* Texts marked with an asterisk will be supplied in class or sent electronically to you as pdf files. Stories marked with the word FAME will be found in Silverberg, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
I. PROLOGUE
H. G. Wells The Time Machine (1895)

*H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds (1898), ch. 1-2



II. THE EARLY DAYS OF PULP SCIENCE FICTION

*Edgar Rice Burroughs A Princess of Mars (1912), ch. 2-end -> ch. 4.

*Hugo Gernsback Ralph 124C 41+ (1911-12), ch. 1.

*E. E. "Doc" Smith From The Lensman Series (1934-1948): Galactic Patrol (1937-8, rev. 1950), ch. 1-2, and Triplanetary (1934; rev. 1948), ch. 1.

*C. L. Moore "Shambleau" (1933).

Stanley G. Weinbaum "A Martian Odyssey" (1934): FAME

John W. Campbell, Jr. "Twilight" (1934) FAME

-->SCIENCE FICTION IN COMICS, RADIO, AND MOVIES (1920'S-40'S):

* The Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Superman comic strips

and radio and movie serials (1928 and later).

*Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" Mercury Theatre of the Air, C.B.S. (1938).

*Howard Koch "The Aftermath," The Panic Broadcast (1970).

-->SCIENCE FICTION IN FILM:
*Metropolis (1926)

*Things to Come (1936)




III. THE "GOLDEN AGE" OF SCIENCE FICTION (1938-1946)
Lester del Rey "Helen O'Loy" (1938) FAME

Theodore Sturgeon "Microcosmic God" (1941) FAME


*A. E. van Vogt "Discord in Scarlet" (1940)

A. E. van Vogt The Weapon Shops Series (1941-43): "The Weapon Shop" (1942)


*Robert A. Heinlein "Requiem" (1940)

*Robert A. Heinlein [Future History Chart] (1941)

*Robert A. Heinlein "By His Bootstraps" (1941)

*Robert A. Heinlein "Universe" (1941)


*Isaac Asimov The Robot Series (1940-1950): "Liar!" (1941), I, Robot (1950)

Isaac Asimov "Nightfall" (1941) FAME

*Isaac Asimov The Foundation series (1942-53): "The Psychohistorians," Foundation (1951).
Lewis Padgett "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (1943) FAME

Clifford D. Simak The City Series (1944-52): "Huddling Place" (1944) FAME

Frederic Brown "Arena" (1944) FAME

IV. AFTER THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Ray Bradbury "The Million-Year Picnic" (1946) (original title: "The Family Outing"): The Martian Chronicles, pp. 172-181

Judith Merril "That Only a Mother" (1948) FAME

Fritz Leiber "Coming Attraction" (1950) FAME

Ray Bradbury "There Will Come Soft Rains" (1950): The Martian Chronicles, pp. 166-172


Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles (1946-1950), pp. 1-166.
Arthur C. Clarke Childhood's End (1950-1953)
-->"SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES OF THE 1950's": Destination: Moon (1950), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), When Worlds Collide (1951), The Thing (from Another World) (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), Invaders from Mars (1953), Forbidden Planet (1956), and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).
Cordwainer Smith "Scanners Live in Vain" (1948) FAME

James Blish "Surface Tension" (1952) FAME


Frederick Pohl The Space Merchants (1952; book, 1953): with C. M. Kornbluth

--> SCIENCE FICTION IN RADIO (1950s):

Tom Godwin "The Cold Equations" (1954) FAME

"The Cold Equations," X Minus One, N.B.C., Aug. 25, 1955

Walter M. Miller, Jr. A Canticle for Leibowitz (1955-57; book, 1961): read "Fiat Homo," pp. 1-98.


V. THE SIXTIES AND AFTER
-->SCIENCE FICTION IN TELEVISION (1960s):

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964): "The Obsolete Man" (1961). (Go to fancast.com/tv/The-Twilight-Zone)
Robert A. Heinlein Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)
Roger Zelazny "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" (1963) FAME


Star Trek (1966-68): original U.S. television series (Go to fancast.com/tv/Star-Trek):
--"Arena" (1967): compare with Frederic Brown, "Arena"

--"Star Seed" (1967)
The Prisoner (1967-68): British television series: Episode 1: "Arrival." (Go to http://www.amctv.com/originals/the- prisoner-1960s-series/)
Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968).
Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)
-->SCIENCE FICTION IN FILM IN THE 60s, 70s, and 80s: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the Star Wars trilogy (1977-83), and Blade Runner (1982).
"CYBERPUNK"

William Gibson "Johnny Mnemonic" and "Burning Chrome"


(1981-82), in Burning Chrome

Bruce Sterling "Preface" to Burning Chrome (1986)




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