ENGL 349 A: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm
MOR 225
Tom Foster
Tom Foster

Syllabus Description:

Schedule of readings:

Readings should be completed before the scheduled date for the class meeting for which they are assigned.  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 (see the "Files" link at the left margin of this page).  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.

January 3: Introduction to the course



Week 2.

January 8: 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”


January 10: Pulp adventure: Speculative fiction, travel writing, and colonialism

                  Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars                       

                  Gwyneth Jones, “Metempsychosis of the Machine”



Week 3.

January 15: No class; Martin Luther King Day


January 17: 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”



Week 4. Hard SF (1940s)

January 22: David Hartwell, “Hard Science Fiction”

                  Hal Clement, “Proof”

                  Robert A. Heinlein, “Columbus Was a Dope”

                  Isaac Asimov, “Evidence”

                 Arthur C. Clarke, “The Sentinel”


January 24: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”

                  James Blish, “Watershed”

                  Clifford Simak, “Desertion” 



Week 5. Alternate traditions: Literary SF (1950s)

January 29: Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human


January 31: Sturgeon, More Than Human       


First papers due, Friday, February 2, by 5 p.m.



Week 6.

February 5: 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”


February 7: New Wave SF (1960s and 70s)

                    Joanna Russ, The Female Man

Suggested only: Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”



Week 7.

February 12: Russ, The Female Man       

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


February 14: Cyberpunk (1980s and after)

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

                     William Gibson, “Burning Chrome

                     Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”

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

                   Bruce Sterling, “Preface” to Mirrorshades



Week 8.

February 19: No class; President's Day


February 21: Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover” 

                     Rudy Rucker, “Soft Death,” available online at         


                    Greg Egan, “Learning to Be Me”

                    Eugie Foster, “Whatever Skin You Wear”

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



Week 9:  Ethnicity, Race, Science Fiction, and Fantasy

February 26: Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others

Suggested only:   Ken Liu, “Seven Birthdays”


February 28: Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others

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




Week 10:

March 5: Nisi Shawl, Everfair

Suggested only:  Nisi Shawl, “Good Boy”

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


March 7: Nisi Shawl, Everfair



Final papers due, Wednesday, March 14, by 5 p.m.





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 - 10:30pm