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ENGL 349 B: Science Fiction and Fantasy

Meeting Time: 
MW 3:30pm - 5:20pm
SMI 405
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, or available online at the links given in the schedule below.  Any title listed below that is not one of the six books I ordered or that does not have a link attached can be found on the “Files” page of the Canvas site, where the pdf files are listed alphabetically under the author’s last name (for example, Arthur C. Clarke’s story “Reunion” is listed under the file name “Clarke.reunion.pdf”).    


Important: Some of the readings below are labeled as “suggested only.”  Suggested readings are not required; I will not assume you have read the suggested materials.  I am likely to refer to them in class, but they are included primarily for students who are especially interested in the topic of the day’s class.


Week 1.

March 30: Introduction to the course


April 1: Theorizing the genre

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

                   Fredric Brown, “Preposterous”

                  Arthur C. Clarke, “Reunion”

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



Week 2. Pulp adventure: Speculative fiction, travel writing, and colonialism

April 6: Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars                       

                 Gwyneth Jones, “Metempsychosis of the Machine”


April 8: 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”


Week 3.

April 13: Ursula K. LeGuin, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas”

                    N.K. Jemisin, “The Ones Who Stay and Fight”

                    Ken Liu, “Ghost Days,” available online at

                    Ken Liu, “Staying Behind” available online at

                    Drew Hayden Taylor, “I Am . . . Am I”

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


April 15: 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”

Suggested only: Malka Older, “Saint Path”



Week 4.

April 20: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”

                    James Blish, “Watershed”

                    Clifford Simak, “Desertion” 


April 22: Alternate traditions: Literary SF (1950s)

                    Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human

 Suggested only: Thedore Sturgeon, "World Well Lost"


First papers due by Friday, April 24,  by 5 p.m.; email to



Week 5.

April 27: Sturgeon, More Than Human       


April 29: Alternate traditions: Feminist SF

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

                    C.L. Moore, “No Woman Born”

                    Judith Merril, “That Only a Mother”     

                    Joanna Russ, “When It Changed”

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



Week 6.

May 4: Octavia Butler, “Amnesty”

                 Sofia Samatar, “The Red Thread”; also available online at

                 Aliette de Bodard, “Immersion,” available online at 

                Rachel Swirsky, “Eros, Philia, Agape”

Suggested only: Rebecca Roanhorse, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM,” available online at


May 6: New Wave SF (1960s and 70s)

Ursula K. LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven



Week 7.

May 11: LeGuin, The Lathe of Heaven


May 13: Cyberpunk (1980s and 90s)

                    Bruce Sterling, “Preface” to Mirrorshades               

                    William Gibson, Neuromancer

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



Week 8.

May 18: Gibson, Neuromancer

                    Bruce Sterling, “Maneki Neko”                     

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


May 20: Ethnicity, Race, Science Fiction, and Fantasy

                    Nisi Shawl, Everfair



Week 9:

May 25: No class; Memorial Day holiday


May 27: Shawl, Everfair

Suggested only: Nisi Shawl, “Good Boy”

Suggested only: Alondra Nelson, “Introduction: Future Texts” (on afrofuturism);                                                  available online at:



Week 10:

June 1: Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others


June 3: Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others



Final papers due, Wednesday, June 10, by 5 p.m., by email to

Catalog Description: 
The study of the development of and specific debates in the related genres of fantasy and science fiction literatures
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
January 17, 2020 - 2:10am