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)
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.
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.
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)
Ray Bradbury "The Million-Year Picnic" (1946) (original title: "The Family Outing"): The MartianChronicles, 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 BodySnatchers (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"