Science Fiction, Technology, and Society (350:377)             Fall, 2015

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

e-mail: Web site:

Office Hours: MON: 4:00-5:00; 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.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.  Signet Classic [Do NOT use the Kindle edition; it’s a mess.]
William Gibson, Burning Chrome.  Eos or Ace.

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest . Tor.
Stanislaw Lem, Solaris. Harcourt Brace. (Do NOT use the Kindle edition; it’s a lousy translation.)
Gardner Dozois, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection. St. Martin's. Be sure

to get the 32nd Collection, published in 2015.  Many inexpensive copies are available on the

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 a 300-level 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.

September 2  Introduction. 

September 8 (Monday schedule)  The prehistory of science fiction.  Try to complete your reading of Frankenstein before this class. 

September 9 Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818).

September 14  In Future Perfect: Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Birthmark" (1843); Herman Melville, "The Bell-Tower" (1855); Fitz-James O'Brien, "The Diamond Lens" (1858). What do you make of  gender issues in these three short stories?

September 16  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).

September 21  In Future Perfect: Washington Irving, "The Men of the Moon" (1809); Edgar Allan Poe, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (1845); Jack London, "A Thousand Deaths" (1899); "The Perfect Future"; William Harben, "In the Year Ten Thousand" (1892).

September 23  Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), “A Word of Explanation” and Chapters I-XV. (Do NOT use the Kindle edition.)

September 28  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, through Chapter XXXVI (“An Encounter in the Dark”).

September 30  Finish A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

October 5  H. G. Wells, The Time Machine (1895).

October 7 In Future Perfect: Edward Bellamy, "The Blindman's World" (1886).  In Road to SF: Arthur C. Clarke, "The Sentinel" (1951); Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966

October 12  In Road to SF: Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941); Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943); Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” (1954). 

October 14  In Road to SF: Robert Sheckley, “Pilgrimage to Earth” (1956); Robert A. Heinlein, “All You Zombies” (1959).

October 19  In Road to SF: Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947); Judith Merril, "That Only a Mother" (1948); William Tenn (Philip Klass), “Brooklyn Project” (1948).  

October 21   In Road to SF: Harry Harrison, “The Streets of Ashkelon” (1962); Gordon R. Dickson, “Dolphin’s Way” (1964); Philip K. Dick, “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966).

October 26  Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (1961), pages 1-132 (through “The Monsters” chapter). (Do NOT use the Kindle edition.)

October 28  Finish Solaris.

November 2 The Vietnam War and Science Fiction.   In Road to SF: Norman Spinrad, “The Big Flash” (1969).

November 4 Harlan Ellison, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967).

November 9  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 November 11.)

November 11  Finish The Word for World Is Forest.

November 16    In William Gibson, Burning Chrome: "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977);  "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981).

November 18  In Burning Chrome:  “New Rose Hotel" (1983); The Winter Market" (1986).  Bruce Sterling, “Swarm” (1982; available online at,%20Bruce/Bruce%20Sterling%20-%20Crystal%20Express.pdf

NOTE: After November 23, the total number of assigned pages to read is only about 90.  This allows time to work on your essay or story.  The stories published in 2014 should give you a sense of some of the science fiction being published today.  For those who are writing a story, I suggest you explore some of these stories that you like best as models, especially for how to hook readers, how to do dialogue, how to achieve narrative flow and suspense, how to involve readers’ emotionally and intellectually, etc. For those writing an essay, these stories offer many interesting and valuable comparisons with the stories we read from earlier periods.  Use your own expertise on contemporary culture to enrich your essay. 

November 23  Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild” (1984; widely available online).  In Year's Best SF: Lauren Beukes, “Slipping” (2014); D. J. Cockburn, “Beside the Damned River” (2014).;

November 30  In Year's Best SF:  Paul Graham Raven, “Los Piratas del Mar de Plastico”; Elizabeth Baer, “The Hand Is Quicker”; Jessica Barber, “Coma Kings”; Susan Palwick, “Weather” (all published in 2014).

December 2  In Year's Best SF: ; Alistair Reynolds, “In Babelsberg”; Paolo Bacigalupi, “Shooting the Apocalypse” (both published in 2014).

December 7  In Year's Best SF:   Karl Bunker, “The Woman from the Ocean”; Ellen Klages, “Amicae Aeternum” (both published in 2014).

December 9  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. 

December 21 The final examination will take place from 3 to 5 PM in the same room where the class regularly meets.  

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, (3) the final examination, and (4) contributions to discussion. In addition, each student's work will be evaluated on overall performance 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.

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.