Schedule

(NB. All readings are from The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction unless otherwise noted. Texts listed under “Reading” are required; texts listed under “Additional reading” are optional. Items listed under “For discussion” include topics that may be considered in class, or questions to think about as you read and write your blog posts.)

Sept. 8 Introduction to the science fiction short story

Sept. 15 Utopias/dystopias

Reading:
• E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops” (1909), pp. 50ff (online)
• R. A. Lafferty, “Slow Tuesday Night” (1965), pp. 359ff (online)
• Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965), pp. 367ff (online)
• Geoff Ryman, “Everywhere” (1999), pp. 717ff

For discussion:
definitions of utopian and dystopian; history of utopian fiction; ideological functions of each

PPT

Sept. 22 Evolution/environment

Reading:
• Jules Verne, from Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), pp. 26ff, introduced by Kristen (blog post)
• Edmond Hamilton, “The Man Who Evolved” (1931), pp. 79ff (online)
• Clifford D. Simak, “Desertion” (1944), pp. 177ff (PDF)
• Frank Herbert, “Seed Stock” (1970), pp. 477ff (online)
• Charles Stross, “Rogue Farm” (2003), pp. 727ff (online)

Additional reading:
• H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (Project Gutenberg; Wikisource)

For discussion:
evolution/devolution; “the dying earth”

Sept. 29 Violence/conflict

Reading:
• Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947), pp. 189ff
• Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother” (1948), pp. 211ff
• William Tenn, “The Liberation of Earth” (1953), pp. 266ff
• Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon” (1955), pp. 309ff
• Bruce Sterling, “We See Things Differently” (1989), pp. 611ff

Additional reading:
There are bajillion sf films and television shows about military themes. When taking a break from reading stories, you could watch some of them. Here are some ideas:
• Military science-fiction
• Military Science-Fiction
• Science fiction war films
• Top 10 Military SciFi Movies of All Time

For discussion:
military sf; anti-war sf

Oct. 6 Apocalypse/post-apocalypse

Reading:
• H. G. Wells, “The Star” (1897), pp. 39ff
• Fritz Leiber, “Coming Attraction” (1950), pp. 221ff
• Ray Bradbury, “There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950), pp. 234ff, introduced by Rachel (blog post)
• J. G. Ballard, “The Cage of Sand” (1962), pp. 337ff
• Octavia E. Butler, “Speech Sounds” (1983), pp. 566ff
• Misha Nogha, “Chippoke Na Gomi” (1989), pp. 630ff

For discussion:
How we got from “The Star” to the zombie apocalypse

Oct. 13 Time travel/alternate history

Reading:
• Robert A. Heinlein, “ ‘All You Zombies—’” (1959), pp. 324ff
• Stanislaw Lem, “The Seventh Voyage” from Star Diaries (1971), pp. 490ff
• John Varley, “Air Raid” (1977), pp. 525ff
• Kate Wilhelm, “Forever Yours, Anna” (1987), pp. 598ff
• John Kessel, “Invaders” (1990), pp. 654ff

For discussion:
Homer Simpson and the butterfly

PPT

Oct. 20 Aliens

Reading:
• C. L. Moore, “Shambleau” (1933), pp. 110ff, introduced by Nora (blog post)
• Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel” (1951), pp. 241ff
• Robert Sheckley, “Specialist” (1953), pp. 250ff
• Robert Silverberg, “Passengers” (1968), pp. 430ff, introduced by Lisa (blog post)
• Nancy Kress, “Out of All Them Bright Stars” (1985), pp. 580ff
• Gene Wolfe, “Useful Phrases” (1992), pp. 675ff
• James Patrick Kelly, “Think Like a Dinosaur” (1995), pp. 698ff

Additional reading:
• Stanley Weinbaum, “A Martian Odyssey” (1934), pp. 136ff

For discussion:
Can humans, by definition, imagine a non-human mode of being?

PPT

Oct. 27 Gender/sexuality

Reading:
• Bronwyn Lovell, “Science fiction’s women problem,” The Conversation (September 15, 2016)
• Leslie F. Stone, “The Conquest of Gola” (1931), pp. 96ff, introduced by Connor (blog post)
• Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966), pp. 379ff
• Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah . . .” (1967), pp. 405ff
• Pamela Zoline, “The Heat Death of the Universe” (1967), pp. 415ff
• Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” (1972), pp. 507ff, introduced by Abby P. (blog post)
• James Tiptree Jr., “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side” (1972), pp. 516ff
• Carol Emshwiller, “Abominable” (1980), pp. 539ff
• Greg Egan, “Closer” (1992), pp. 683ff

For discussion:
women/LGBTQ sff writers; fandom

Nov. 3 The “Sad/Rabid Puppy” controversy and related debacles

Start here by reading this story and following its links:
• “Satirical erotica author Chuck Tingle’s massive troll of conservative sci-fi fans, explained: Right-wing sci-fi writers tried to delegitimize the Hugo Awards by nominating a writer no one took seriously. Here’s how he took them all by surprise.” Aja Romano, Vox (May 26, 2016).

Then read:
• “The Culture Wars Invade Science Fiction: Online campaigners are pushing to give SF’s annual Hugo Awards to popular space yarns, not more literary fiction or tales of diversity,” Michael Rapport, The Wall Street Journal (May 15, 2015). Updated link to full article.
• “Eight Books You Need To Know About To Understand The Hugo Awards Snafu,” Charlie Jane Anders, io9 (June 30, 2015).
• RaceFail ’09, fanlore
• “#Gamergate: Here’s why everybody in the video game world is fighting,” Todd VanDerWerff, Vox (Oct. 13, 2014).

For discussion:
History of representation in media; marginalized within a marginalized genre

PPT

Nov. 10 Fall term reading day — no class

Nov. 17 Post-human

Reading:
• Paolo Bacigalupi, “The People of Sand and Slag” (2004), introduced, along with the topic of the post-human, by Jonas
• Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941), pp. 160ff
• Alfred Bester, “Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954), pp. 283ff
• Avram Davidson, “The Golem” (1955), pp. 303ff
• Brian Aldiss, “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” (1969), pp. 443ff, introduced by Abby D.
• Ursula K. Le Guin, “Nine Lives” (1969), pp. 452ff
• Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (2008), pp. 742ff

For discussion:
Is this a continuation of the “evolution” discussion, or something else?

Nov. 24 Plugged in

Reading:
• Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966), pp. 385ff
• William Gibson, “Burning Chrome” (1982), pp. 547ff, introduced by Alex
• Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover” (1986), pp. 587ff
• Eileen Gunn, “Computer Friendly” (1989), pp. 637ff

For discussion:
Would you get a plug in your skull if you were offered one?

Due date: Major papers due

Dec. 1 Final class: tying it all together

NEW: Dec. 9 Final exam, 7pm, G. Forbes Elliot Athletics Centre (row 4)

6 thoughts on “Schedule”

  1. Reading “Science fiction’s women problem” makes me think of an old John Lennon tune. A tune I am reluctant to post here because of its bold title. But anyone who knows music knows exactly what song I’m talking about.

    Like

      1. Still asking me to subscribe. I am able to sign in with Google+ but still not able to access the article. I wonder if anyone else is having this same issue or if it is just me hmm

        Like

  2. I was able to access it at http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-culture-wars-invade-science-fiction-1431707195 and http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-culture-wars-invade-science-fiction-1431707195?mod=e2fb, but there does appear to be some wonkiness. So I will post the text here, at least temporarily:

    The Culture Wars Invade Science Fiction
    Online campaigners are pushing to give SF’s annual Hugo Awards to popular space yarns, not more literary fiction or tales of diversity

    By MICHAEL RAPOPORT
    May 15, 2015 12:26 p.m. ET
    79 COMMENTS
    Theodore Beale had a big day when the nominations for science fiction’s annual Hugo Awards were announced last month: He received two nominations for his editing work, and nine stories and books from Castalia House, the tiny publisher where he is lead editor, won nominations.

    Quite a feat, since Mr. Beale—better known in the science-fiction world by his pen name, Vox Day—is probably now the most despised man in science fiction. In 2013, he was expelled from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America after he used the group’s Twitter feed to link to his criticisms of a black female writer as an “ignorant half-savage.” He has called women’s rights “a disease” and homosexuality a “birth defect.”

    So why are he and the Castalia House authors being honored? Because two online campaigns by self-styled conservatives, one led by Mr. Beale, flooded the Hugo ballot box.

    The two groups—which call themselves the “Sad Puppies” and the “Rabid Puppies”—urged the science-fiction fans who vote for the awards to nominate slates of books and authors that the Puppies say have been ignored by the Hugos. The Puppies’ supporters contend that the awards are clique-ridden and biased, rewarding liberal perspectives and self-consciously “literary” fiction rather than traditional, popular tales of space battles and fantasy quests.

    The Puppies succeeded wildly: The bulk of the Hugo nominees—all five nominees in some categories—came from their slates. What they did was within the rules: Anyone can vote in the Hugos by buying a membership in the annual World Science Fiction Convention, which costs as little as $40—and since several dozen votes can garner a nomination in some categories, the Puppies enlisted enough new voters to overwhelm the process.

    “This is an important symbol in one particular area of the culture war, and so we took it away from the other side,” said Mr. Beale, who headed the “Rabid Puppies” campaign.

    The success of the Puppies stunned and outraged many authors and fans. They say the Puppies’ claims are nonsense and that their real beef is with science fiction’s move toward greater diversity, with growing prominence in recent years for women, minority and gay authors and an increased focus on social and gender issues. To them, the Puppies’ supporters are carpetbaggers who gamed the process, trashed a cherished institution and injected the wider culture war into science fiction to stick it to the “social justice warriors”—that is, outspoken liberals.

    “They’re crashing the party and wrecking the place, and that’s not the way to do it,” said John Scalzi, a Hugo-winning novelist.

    The fury on both sides has roiled the Hugos, and no one knows what will happen when the 13-inch-tall, rocket-shaped trophies are awarded Aug. 22. Multiple categories might go to “No Award” as anti-Puppy voters try to prevent Puppy nominees from winning.

    Some fear that the Hugos, which have been won by such science-fiction legends as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, may have been irreparably tarnished. “I’m hoping they’re not broken, but I’m not optimistic,” said George R.R. Martin of “Game of Thrones” fame.

    Brad Torgersen, a Sad Puppies organizer, says that the Hugos have long strayed from “the larger body of fans” and disdained what’s popular. Michael Crichton, the author of “Jurassic Park” and other blockbusters, was never nominated for his books, Mr. Torgersen notes. “Some of us decided to get active about pushing back against the blind spots.”

    But Mr. Martin, who has dissected the Puppies’ claims exhaustively on his blog, doesn’t think that the Hugos have ignored popular, less literary work. Exhibit A, he says: “Redshirts,” Mr. Scalzi’s Hugo-winning 2012 novel—a breezy, best-selling adventure story that spoofs the conventions of TV shows such as “Star Trek.”

    Mr. Scalzi likens the Puppies’ campaigns to the backlash that women and minorities have faced in other geek-culture arenas—notably “Gamergate,” the videogamers’ campaign widely associated with threats against feminist videogame critics.

    But Larry Correia, another Sad Puppies organizer, doesn’t see the Puppies’ campaign as a backlash against diversity. “That’s a narrative they came up with to try to discredit us,” he says. He and Mr. Torgersen have distanced themselves from Mr. Beale’s extreme views, but the Rabids are “still fans, they’re still people, their votes still count.”

    This isn’t the first time that today’s culture wars have intruded into the literature of the future. A few years ago, fans attempted to boycott author Orson Scott Card (“Ender’s Game”) over his fierce opposition to gay marriage. Last year, the British TV personality Jonathan Ross withdrew from hosting the Hugos ceremony after some fans complained about his history of edgy jokes about women and minorities.

    This year, the Puppies’ success put the tensions on stark display. Four nominees on the Puppies’ slates declined their nominations; some said they never agreed to be on a slate and didn’t want to be in the middle of a political firestorm. “My fiction is my message, not someone else’s,” wrote Annie Bellet, withdrawing her story “Goodnight Stars.”

    Since the nominations were announced in April, about 3,000 people have bought Worldcon memberships, apparently so that they could vote on the final Hugo ballot. But neither side knows which way these new voters will lean: Are they more Puppies, trying to secure the awards? Or are they part of a backlash to the backlash—opponents streaming in who might vote en masse for “No Award” to thwart the Puppies’ campaign? The Hugo rules provide that voting option, and many fans have advocated it. If category after category goes by without a winner, “it would hardly be a celebratory evening,” Mr. Martin says.

    Author David Gerrold, who will co-host the Hugo ceremony, says that the Puppies are “coming across like spoiled brats,” but he doesn’t plan to embarrass anyone. The Hugos, he says, are “the place we go to celebrate our community, our sense of wonder.”

    He notes one irony, though: Any Puppy winning a Hugo will get it from Mr. Gerrold himself or his co-host, author Tananarive Due—a gay man and a black woman.

    Write to Michael Rapoport at Michael.Rapoport@wsj.com

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s