21W.759 | Spring 2016 | Undergraduate

Writing Science Fiction


Textbook Key

[Evans] = Evans, Arthur B., Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., et al. The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction. Wesleyan University Press, 2010. ISBN: 9780819569554. [Preview with Google Books]

[Silverberg] = Silverberg, Robert. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One 1929–1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Vol. 1. Tor Books, 2003. ISBN: 9780765305367. [Preview with Google Books]

What is and is not Science Fiction?
1 Introduction: What is speculative fiction? Various forms and subgenres. There are no readings for this session.
2 Discussion of speculative fiction: What is its function? Why is it popular?

Cooper, Quentin. Why is Science Fiction So Hard to Define? BBC.com. July 30, 2014.

Gunn, Eileen. “How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors are Shaping Your Future.” Smithsonian, May 2014.

Solana, Michael. Stop Writing Dystopian Sci-Fi—It’s Making Us All Fear Technology. August 14, 2014.

Destroying (Building) the World
3 Build the World to Destroy the World

[Evans] Dick, Philip K. “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.” Original work published 1966.

[Evans] Varley, John. “Air Raid.” Original work published 1977.

[Evans] Ryman, Geoff. “Everywhere.” Original work published 1999.

[Evans] Chiang, Ted. “Exhalation.” Original work published 2008.

4 World Building 101 There are no readings for this session.
Building the World
5 World Building Exercises There are no readings for this session.
The Protagonist Destroys the World
6 Creating Characters Within the World

[Evans] Merril, Judith. “That Only a Mother.” Original work published 1948.

[Evans] Davidson, Avram. “The Golem.” Original work published 1955.

[Silverberg] Zelazny, Roger. “A Rose for Ecclesiastes.” Original work published 1963.

[Evans] Gunn, Eileen. “Computer Friendly.” Original work published 1989.

[Evans] Kelly, James Patrick. “Think Like a Dinosaur.” Original work published 1995.

7 Exercise: Creating Characters Within the World (Scenario Work) There are no readings for this session.
The Science in Science Fiction
8 How the Science (or Magic) is Central, but the Story is Not Always About the Science (or Magic)

[Silverberg] Asimov, Isaac. “Nightfall.” Original work published 1941.

[Silverberg] Godwin, Tom. “The Cold Equations.” Original work published 1954.

[Evans] Tiptree, James, Jr. “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hillside.” Original work published 1973.

[Evans] Gibson, William. “Burning Chrome.” Original work published 1981.

9 Exercise: Locating the Science / Magic / Speculation (Scenarios) There are no readings for this session.
10 Where worldbuilding can go wrong. Examining the economics of how worlds and societies function—and don’t. Lob, Jacques, and Jean-Marc Rochette. Snowpiercer Vol. 1: The Escape. Titan Comics, 2014. ISBN: 9781782761433.
11 Troubleshooting Societies There are no readings for this session.
The Future is Now, Theme and Extrapolation
12 Does science fiction try to predict the future, or address questions of the current day? The answer, of course, is yes.

[Evans] Russ, Joanna. “When It Changed.” Original work published 1972.

[Evans] Kress, Nancy. “Out of All Them Bright Stars.” Original work published 1985.

[Silverberg] Clarke, Arthur C. “The Nine Billion Names of God.” Original work published 1954.

[Evans] Egan, Greg. “Closer.” Original work published 1992.

13-26 Additional Topics and Workshops There are no readings for these sessions.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments with Examples