Science Fiction, Technology, and Society (350:377)             Spring, 2013

Professor H. Bruce Franklin Office: Hill 515 Phone: 973-353-5444

e-mail: Web site:

Office Hours: MON: 1:00-2:00; WED 2:30-3:30; and by appointment.

REQUIRED TEXTS: (Editions listed are those ordered at New Jersey Books and Bradley Hall. You may substitute except where noted.)

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus. Bantam.

H. Bruce Franklin, Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the 19th Century. Rutgers University Press, 1995. [Do not use any earlier edition of this book.]
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine. Bantam.
William Gibson, Burning Chrome.  Eos or Ace.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest . Tor.
Stanislaw Lem, Solaris. Harcourt Brace.
Gardner Dozois, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Ninth Annual Collection. St. Martin's. Be sure to get the Twenty-Ninth Collection, published in 2012.  Many inexpensive copies are available on the internet.]  
James Gunn, ed., The Road to Science Fiction #3: From Heinlein to Here. Various publishers.  [Be sure to get volume #3 in this series. A few used copies of this book may be available for purchase in class.]


This is an interdisciplinary course designed for students with serious interest in the subject. Although no previous knowledge is required, the readings may challenge your intelligence and imagination and will certainly demand considerable time and thought.

The following reading assignments must be completed by the indicated dates.

January 30 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).

February 4   In Future Perfect: Introduction; Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Birthmark" (1843); "The Artist of the Beautiful" (1844); "Automata"; Herman Melville, "The Bell-Tower" (1855); Fitz-James O'Brien, "The Diamond Lens" (1858).

February 6  In Future Perfect: Edgar Allan Poe, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (1845); Jack London, "A Thousand Deaths" (1899); In Road to SF: Larry Niven, “The Jigsaw Man” (1967).

February 11  In Future Perfect: "Women's Work"; Annie Denton Cridge, "Man's Rights" (1870); Mary E. Bradley Lane, Mizora (1880). In Road to SF: Joanna Russ, "When It Changed" (1972).

February 13  In Future Perfect: "Time Travel"; "Four-Dimensional Space" (1885); Mark Twain, "From the 'London Times' of 1904" (1898); "The Perfect Future"; William Harben, "In the Year Ten Thousand" (1892);  In Road to SF: Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966).

February 18  H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895).

February 20  In Future Perfect: "Space Travel"; Washington Irving, "The Men of the Moon" (1809); Edward Bellamy, "The Blindman's World" (1886).  In Road to SF: Arthur C. Clarke,  "The Sentinel" (1951).

February 25  In Road to SF: Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941); Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” (1954); Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943).  In William Gibson, Burning Chrome: "The Gernsback Continuum" (1981). 

February 27  In Road to SF: Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947); Judith Merril, "That Only a Mother" (1948).  

March 4  In Road to SF: William Tenn (Philip Klass), “Brooklyn Project” (1948); Robert A. Heinlein, “All You Zombies” (1959).  

March 6  In Road to SF: Harry Harrison, “The Streets of Ashkelon” (1962); Gordon R. Dickson, “Dolphin’s Way” (1964). 

March 11   In Road to SF: Robert Sheckley, “Pilgrimage to Earth” (1956); Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966).

March 13  In Year's Best SF:  Dave Hutchinson, “The Incredible Exploding Man” (2012).  Note how this current story picks up and plays off elements from several mid-20th-century stories we have just read.  The clue that we are meant to think back to this earlier science fiction comes from the title, which is play on a terrific 1957 film:  “The Incredible Shrinking Man.”

March 25  Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (1961). (Note that you have twelve days to read Solaris, which is a challenging book.  There will be a quiz this day on Solaris.)

March 27  Please bring Solaris to class.

April 1  Harlan Ellison, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967); Norman Spinrad, “The Big Flash” (1969).

April 3  Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest (1972), Chapters 1-2 (Pp. 9-61).  (I urge those who have not seen the 2009 film “Avatar” to see it sometime before April 8.)

April 8  Finish The Word for World Is Forest.

April 10   In William Gibson, Burning Chrome: "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977); "New Rose Hotel" (1983).

April 15  In Burning Chrome: "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981); "Burning Chrome" (1985); "The Winter Market" (1986).

April 17  In Year's Best SF:  Pat Cadigan, “Cody” (2012);  Ken MacLeud, “Earth Hour” (2012).  (Compare these stories to Gibson’s.)

April 22  In Year's Best SF:  Maureen McHugh, “After the Apocalypse” (2012); Carolyn Ives Gilman, “The Ice Owl” (2012).

April 24  In Year's Best SF:  Elizabeth Bear, “Dolly” (2012);  Alastair Reynolds, “Ascension Day” (2012).

April 29  In Year's Best SF:  Jim Hawkins, “Digital Rites” (2012).

May 1  In Year's Best SF:  Chris Lawson, “Canterbury Hollow” (2012).

May 6  Final day for submission of original short story or essay (minimum length 2,500 words). Do not leave the writing or typing of this project for the last minute.  The hard copy is due in class. You must also submit a digitized copy by e-mail within 24 hours of this class.   

There will be frequent brief tests on the readings, usually on the day they are due. These are not meant to be ambushes but aids for reading and for our discussion. There will be a final examination but no mid-term.

In determining the grade for the course, approximately equal weight will be given to (1) the brief tests, (2) the short story or essay, and (3) the final examination. In addition, each student's work will be evaluated on overall performance, with attention given to attendance, participation in discussion, and the level of knowledge and understanding ultimately reached.

Instructions for Writing Project

The essay or short story you are writing for this course is an opportunity for an original, valuable achievement. Think of it as something you are preparing for publication. That is, you are addressing an audience of reasonably intelligent strangers whom you must entice to read your work and who will have a valuable experience reading it. Most questions about form and content can be answered easily if you put yourself in your readers' shoes. The essay or story should also contribute to your readers' understanding of some aspect of the subject matter of the course.

The minimum length is 2,500 words. If you are having difficulty reaching this length, you can be sure there is some problem in your conception and development of your essay or story. There is no maximum length.

On proper use and acknowledgement of sources, be sure you have a copy of the Rutgers Policy on Academic Integrity and are familiar with its contents.  The penalty for submitting a purchased or plagiarized paper is suspension from the University.

The physical appearance of your work should be attractive and professional looking. It should be double-spaced throughout, and the print should be very black (not gray and faded) and pleasant to read. There is no adequate excuse for frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. So allow yourself ample time for spell checking and proofreading. 

Extensions without penalty will be granted only for medical or other emergencies. Be sure to keep a back-up copy of your paper. The graded paper will be returned to you at the time of the final examination. The comments on your paper (which may be extensive) are intended for your future benefit, not as a rationale for the grade; please study them with care.