Genre Studies: Fantasy, Science Fiction

Central Question:
Where is Science Fiction Headed? 
What are its sub-genres?  What are the characteristics of this genre?  How is it different from closely related genres? 

1st Quarter: Fantasy

Recommended Books

Class Notes

2nd Quarter:
Science Fiction

Recommended Books
Blade Runner

Some vocabulary
First Contact 


Each student should be engaged in research, reading, and writing.  The research and reading should help the student to identify features of the genre and to identify sub-genres, their features, and their relation to other sub-genres.  The writing should demonstrate the student's mastery of this. 

30 points - Expectation of Non-Procrastination: The student's work should be self-directed: The student is expected to chose an area to work in, ask for help when needed, complete the work, and hand some work each week.  Students should not expect to pass if they put the bulk of work off until the last weeks.  Thirty percent of the final grade, therefore, will be weekly work. 

30 points - Pieces Written about Selected Novel: Independently of other students, each individual will read, discuss, and write about a novel in the genre.  Here is a list of possible novel choices.  Working as a class, we will develop a list of suggestions for these assignments.   

             As a junior editor in charge of the Fantasy Department at a publishing firm, prepare a
             written document that explains why your book should be published by your department and not 
             the Horror Department or Science Fiction Department.  Be sure to point out where the specific
             elements of fantasy are clearly present in your novel. 

             You have been reading a novel situated in a world of someone's imagination.  As a character in
             your story, write a letter that will cross dimensions to someone in our world.  Explain the
             difference between the two worlds.

             As a character in this novel, write a plea for help to another character that is capable of assisting
             you and would if only he or she knew of your plight.  Taking the form of a letter or speech, clearly
             identify the problem that you  face. 


30 points - Original Story & Accompanying Essay: Each individual will write a short story in the genre.  This story will be accompanied by an essay about the elements that make it a part of the genre, its influences, inspirations, etc.   An Example 
                5 points - Character Development Work
                5 points - Setting Development Work
                5 points - Development; Progress
              10 points - Finished Story
                5 points - Essay
30 points - Short Stories and Articles On this Genre by Professional Authors : Each student will read, discuss, and write about essays and articles about fantasy.
             10 points - Pieces written by the student that reflect on and stories covered in class and/or articles
                               The articles may either be those selected by the instructor or other students  This 
                               requirement may  fulfilled by one larger piece or a series of smaller pieces. 
             10 points - Articles found and presented by the student (see rubric).  A small list of these articles
                               appears below, but this is just to get started--each student will be expected to contribute
                                to the class by finding, reading, and presenting research in this genre. 
             10 points - Quizzes

"Hard Science Fiction".  Wikipedia
"Soft Science Fiction". 

Chouinard, Gabe. "Minor Futurism: Where SFF is Headed". 
Locus On-Line.  1 January 2003.

Chouinard, Gabe.  "Dislocated Fictions: The Dennis Miller Syndrome". 
The SF Site

Martinez, Michael.  "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Canon". 
Suite 101.  March 17, 2001. 

Mieville, China.  "Debate".
Unofficial China Mieville Website

"New Wave".  Wikipedia. 

Baen Free Library

"What is the Internet Speculative Fiction Database?"
Internet Speculative Fiction Database

     Le Guin, Ursula. "Semley's Necklace". The Wind's Twelve Quarters.  Bantam, 1975. (22 pages)
     Le Guin, Ursula. "Nine Lives" The Wind's Twelve Quarters.  Bantam, 1975.  (28 pages)
     "The Empire of Dreams: The Story of the Star Wars Trilogy". 

"...we're also dealing with how to provide information in the narrative. 
     This is a skill science fiction and fantasy writers are keenly aware of, because they often have a great deal of information to convey that the reader has no way of knowing unless told.  If my story's set in Chicago in 1995, I can assume that my readers have some general idea of the time and place and how things work there, and can fill in the picture from the barest hints.  But if my story's set of 4-Beta Draconis in 3295, my readers have no idea what to expect.  The world of the story must be created and explained in the story.  This is part of the particular interest and beauty of science fiction and fantasy: writer and reader collaborate in world-making.  But it's a tricky business.
     If the information is poured out as a lecture, barely concealed by some stupid device--"Oh, Captain, do tell me how the antimatter dissimulator works!" and then he does, endlessly--we have what science fiction writers call an Expository Lump.  Crafty writers (in any genre) don't allow Exposition to form Lumps.  They break it up the information, grind it fine, and make it into bricks to build the story with.
     Almost all narrative carries some load of explaining and describing.  This exposition freight can be as much a problem in memoir as it is in science fiction.  Making the information part of the story is a learnable skill.  As always, a good part of the solution is simply in being aware that there is a problem. 

       LeGuin, Ursula. 
Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussion on Story Writing for
              the Long Navigator or the Mutinous Crew. 
Portland, Oregon: The Eighth Mountain
              Press, 1998.  Page 118-9.