ENGL 349 A: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MEB 103
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings:

All stories and essays not included in the books ordered for the class are available on the Canvas site for the course, in the form of pdf files.  Suggested readings are not required; I will not assume you have read the suggested materials, but will refer to them in class. They are included primarily for students who are especially interested in the topic of the day’s class.


Week 1.

September 27: Introduction to the course



Week 2.

October 2: Theorizing the genre

                 Darko Suvin, chapters 1 and 4, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction             

                 Fredric Brown, “Preposterous”

                 Arthur C. Clarke, “Reunion”

Suggested: Samuel R. Delany, “About 5750 Words”


October 4: Pulp adventure: Speculative fiction, travel writing, and colonialism

                 Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars                       

                 Gwyneth Jones, “Metempsychosis of the Machine”



Week 3.

October 9: Burroughs, A Princess of Mars

                 John Rieder, chapter 1 from Colonialism and the Emergence of Science Fiction

                 Nalo Hopkinson, “Report from Planet Midnight,” in Hopkinson, Report

                                                                                          from Planet Midnight

                 Robert Sheckley, “The Native Problem”

Suggested only: Ray Bradbury, “Way Up in the Middle of the Air”


October 11: Hard SF (1940s)

                   David Hartwell, “Hard Science Fiction”

                   Hal Clement, “Proof”

                   Robert A. Heinlein, “Columbus Was a Dope”

                   Isaac Asimov, “Evidence”

                   Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel”



Week 4.

October 16: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”

                   James Blish, “Watershed”

                   Clifford Simak, “Desertion” 


October 18: Alternate traditions: Literary SF (1950s)

Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human



Week 5.

October 23: Sturgeon, More Than Human       


October 25: Alternate traditions: Feminist SF

                   C.L. Moore, “No Woman Born”

                   Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother”

                   James M. Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), “The Women Men Don’t See”

                   Sarah Lefanu, “Authority and Sentiment: Is There a Women’s Science Fiction?”

Suggested only: Octavia Butler, “Amnesty”



First papers due by Monday, October 29,  by 1 p.m.; email to tfoster@u.washington.edu



Week 6. New Wave SF (1960s and 70s)

October 30: Samuel R. Delany, Babel-17

Suggested only: Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”


November 1: Delany, Babel-17

Suggested only: Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Direction of the Road”



Week 7. Cyberpunk (1980s and after)

November 6: Bruce Sterling, “Preface” to Mirrorshades          

                    James M. Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”

                    William Gibson, “Burning Chrome”

                    Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”                     

Suggested only:  Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover” 

Suggested only:  Greg Egan, “Learning to Be Me”

Suggested only:  Benjamin Rosenbaum, “The Guy Who Worked for Money,” available online at   http://www.shareable.net/blog/the-guy-who-worked-for-money

Suggested only:  Eugie Foster, “Whatever Skin You Wear”


November 8: Ethnicity, Race, Science Fiction, and Fantasy

                   Octavia Butler, Dawn                     


Week 8.

November 13: Butler, Dawn


November 15: Nisi Shawl, Everfair

Suggested only: Alondra Nelson, “Introduction: Future Texts” (on afrofuturism);                                                                  available online at: http://socialtext.dukejournals.org.offcampus.lib.washington.edu/content/20/2_71/1



Week 9:

November 20: Shawl, Everfair


November 22: No class; Thanksgiving holiday



Week 10:

November 27: Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others


November 29: Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others



Week 11:

December 4: Ken Liu, The Paper Menagerie


December 6: Liu, The Paper Menagerie

Suggested only: Ken Liu, “Seven Birthdays” (pdf)

Suggested only: Aliette de Bodard, “Immersion,” available online at




Final papers due on Wednesday, December 12, by 5 p.m.; email to tfoster@uw.edu


Catalog Description: 
The study of the development of and specific debates in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction literatures
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 10:50pm