21W.758 | Fall 2016 | Undergraduate
Genre Fiction Workshop: Fantasy


Before Class

I expect that you will be familiar with the following work before the beginning of class. We will consider these in class, and they will be fair game in discussions. I prefer that you read rather than watch the films/TV shows, as the books are richer and have far more information.

Tolkein, J. R. R. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Del Ray, 2012. ISBN: 9780345538376.

Martin, George R. R. Game of Thrones: A Song of Fire and Ice (Book 1). Bantam, 2011. ISBN: 9780553593716.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter (Books 1–7). Arthur A. Levine Books, 2009. ISBN: 9780545162074.

You must be familiar with the Arthurian Legend. The TV show Merlin does not count. It does not give you the background you will need. I highly recommend The Once and Future King by T. H. White. Yes, it’s a brick, but it’s the best rendition of the Arthurian Legend in modern times.

White, T. H. The Once and Future King. Reprint edition. Ace Books, 1987. ISBN: 9780441627400. [Preview with Google Books]

For Class

Carey, Jacqueline. Kushiel’s Dart. Reprint edition. Tor Books, 2015. ISBN: 9780765379726.

Please note, some people may have trouble with the sexuality depicted in this book. The protagonist is a prostitute who specializes in sado-masochism. It is beautifully written and the world is wonderfully imagined and this is why I am assigning it. If you happen to love this book, there are two more. There are two more trilogies after the first trilogy, but neither comes up to the first. This is also one of the huge books that might be good to start early.

Powers, Tim. Expiration Date. Gollancz, 2015. ISBN: 9781473211988.

Contemporary fantasy written in the 1990s (so not quite recent contemporary) but you’ll find the world quite recognizable—more so if you’re familiar with LA. Exciting and well written, this is a stand-alone novel and Powers is a fine stylist as well as a great storyteller.

Novik, Naomi. His Majesty’s Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1). Reissue edition. Del Ray, 2006. ISBN: 9780345481283.

First of a series, and you may end up hooked. Great historical fantasy—do look up some of the historical references!

Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. Del Ray, 1984. ISBN: 9780345350497. [Preview with Google Books]

Another brick of a book. Do not start this until you have read The Once and Future King or feel deeply grounded in the Arthurian cycle. Please note: Some people may be offended because the book can be deeply anti-Christian in some parts. This reveals both the prejudice of the author and the era in which it was written. Think of it from the context of what the author is trying to say about the origins of the Arthurian cycle.

Gaiman, Neil. The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll’s House. Reprint edition. Vertigo, 2010. ISBN: 9781401227999. [Preview with Google Books]

Again, if you have not read this already, you may end up wanting to read all 12 volumes, which should not be a problem because these are graphic novels and relatively short.

Jones, Diana Wynn. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel. Revised and updated edition. Firebird, 2006. ISBN: 9780142407226.

This is not fiction. Well, kind of not. It’s meta-fiction about fantasy and is not meant to be read straight through. Don’t worry about trying to read this from beginning to end, but if you need a good laugh at some point, dip in.

All of these books can be purchased used on line for extremely low prices, which I highly recommend. Several but not all are available in e-books. Fortunately, the thickest and heaviest books can be bought in this format, which could benefit your backpack and your back.

I strongly recommend buying these used online. I also strongly suggest sharing copies of books, taking them out of libraries, and using the MIT Science Fiction Society’s collection to minimize your expenses.

Please note: Both Mists of Avalon and Kushiel’s Dart and extremely long. They are wonderful books and I expect you will find them engrossing, but you will need to start reading them before the semester begins. We will be discussing Mists of Avalon first, so I strongly suggest you begin with that. Trust me, you will not be able to finish these books if you do not start them before Registration Day—and trust me, you will very much want to finish them!

Course Info
As Taught In
Fall 2016
Learning Resource Types
notes Lecture Notes
assignment_turned_in Written Assignments with Examples