Science Fiction (26:350:553)                                                 Fall 2013

Professor H. Bruce Franklin      Office: Hill 515.       Phone: 973-353-5444.
Office hours: Mon. 4:00-5:00; Wed. 2:30-3:30; and by appointment.
Home page:

REQUIRED TEXTS (Editions listed are available at New Jersey Books and Bradley Hall. Except where indicated, it's o.k. to substitute other editions):

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or the Modern Prometheus. Bantam. [This is the 1831 edition, which
    differs significantly from the 1818 edition.]
H. Bruce Franklin, Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the 19th Century. Rutgers
    University Press, 1995.
[Do not use earlier editions.]
William Gibson, Burning Chrome. Ace Books.
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine. Bantam.
Octavia Butler, Kindred. Beacon.
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest . Tor.
Stanislaw Lem, Solaris. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. [Do not use the e-edition, which is a different   translation.]
Gardner Dozois, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection. St. Martin's.
         [Be sure to get the Thirtieth Collection, published in 2013.]
James Gunn, ed., The Road to Science Fiction #3: From Heinlein to Here. Various publishers.    [Any edition is o.k., but be sure you get “#3: From Heinlein to Here,” not any of the other five volumes of this series.  A few used copies of this book will also be available for purchase in class.]

Assigned readings must be completed by the indicated date:

September 9  Organization, description, and methodology of the seminar.  Prehistory of science fiction.

September 16   Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818; 1831).

September 23   Octavia Butler, Kindred (1979).  In Future Perfect: Introduction; Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Birthmark" (1843).

September 30   In Future Perfect: Introduction; Nathaniel Hawthorne, "The Artist of the Beautiful" (1844); Fitz-James O'Brien, "The Diamond Lens" (1858); "Automata"; "Herman Melville and Science Fiction"; Melville, "The Bell-Tower" (1855); "Space Travel"; Washington Irving, "The Men of the Moon" (1809); "Dimensional Speculation as Science Fiction"; "Four-Dimensional Space" (1885); "From `Four-Dimensional Space'" (1896); Edgar Allan Poe, "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar" (1845); "Thomas Wentworth Higginson and His Dreamer"; Higginson, "The Monarch of Dreams" (1886); Edward Bellamy, "The Blindman's World" (1886); Jack London, "A Thousand Deaths" (1899).

October 7   In Future Perfect: "Women's Work"; Annie Denton Cridge, "Man's Rights" (1870); Mary E. Bradley Lane, Mizora (1880); "Time Travel"; "The Perfect Future"; William Harben, "In the Year Ten Thousand" (1892); "Mark Twain and Science Fiction"; Twain, "From the 'London Times' of 1904" (1898).     In Road to Science Fiction:  Frederik Pohl, “Day Million” (1966); Joanna Russ, "When It Changed" (1972).

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

At some time before this class meeting, see Things To Come (1936).  [Use the Criterion DVD (June 2013); earlier versions are very poor; avoid the colorized version.]

October 14    In Road to Science Fiction:  Isaac Asimov, “Reason” (1941); Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore) “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943); Arthur C. Clarke, "The Sentinel" (1951); Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations” (1954); Robert Sheckley, “Pilgrimage to Earth” (1956); 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).    In William Gibson, Burning Chrome: "The Gernsback Continuum" (1981). 

October 21    Stanislaw Lem, Solaris (1961).

October 28    In Road to Science Fiction:  Theodore Sturgeon, “Thunder and Roses” (1947); Judith Merril, "That Only a Mother" (1948); William Tenn (Philip Klass), “Brooklyn Project” (1948); Robert A. Heinlein, “All You Zombies” (1959);  Harlan Ellison, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967); Norman Spinrad, “The Big Flash” (1969).   

November 4  In Road to Science Fiction:  Ursula K. Le Guin, from The Left Hand of Darkness (1969).  Ursula K. Le Guin, The Word for World Is Forest  (1972).   At some time before this class meeting, see Avatar (2009).

November 11    In William Gibson, Burning Chrome: "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (1977); "Johnny Mnemonic" (1981); "New Rose Hotel" (1983); "Hinterlands" (1983); "Burning Chrome" (1985); "The Winter Market" (1986).   At some time before this class meeting, see Blade Runner (1982); the director’s cut is preferable.

November 18    In Year's Best SF:  Lavie Tidhar, “The Memcordist” and “Under the Eaves” (2012); Eleanor Arnason, “Holmes Sherlock” (2012); Elizabeth Bear, “In the House of Aryaman, A Lonely Signal Burns” (2012);  Megan Lindholm, “Old Paint” (2012); Steven Popkes, “Sudden, Broken, and Unexpected” (2012); Vandana Singh, “Ruminations in an Alien Tongue” (2012).   Although these seven stories consist of only about 142 pages, some of them are quite challenging and rewarding; so be sure to budget enough time to give them close and deep readings.   By this date, everybody should have had at least one meeting with me to discuss your essay.     

November 25   Discussion of essays by members of the seminar.

December 2    Discussion of essays by members of the seminar.

December 9    Discussions of essays by members of the seminar.  Final day for submission of original essay (minimum length 3,500 words). Extensions without penalty will be granted only for medical or other emergencies.

The essay must be an original work relating to one or more of the issues or works explored in the seminar. It should have something significant to communicate, and it should be worth its readers' time. Please note that after November 18 there is no assigned reading. This allows four weeks to finish your essay, which is your only major project for the course. Your aim should be to produce a work of potentially publishable quality in both form and content.

The physical appearance of your work should be attractive and professional looking.  Citations and format should follow the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or The Chicago Manual of Style.

Presentations by Members of the Seminar

During the last three meetings, each member of the seminar will lead a discussion relevant to his or her essay.  When leading this discussion, you will be entirely in charge of the seminar.  You may use this as an opportunity to develop your essay and get feedback on that project.  You may use the time to pose problems you have encountered in developing your essay, to explore the subject of your essay more deeply, to present a brief version of your essay, or whatever you think most valuable.  Or you may simply explore some issue, concern, or work we are studying.  Before your presentation, you should supply all other members of the seminar with any written materials to be read in preparation. The easiest way to provide these materials is by e-mail through the listserve we’ll set up. Everybody needs to prepare for each discussion by studying the appropriate materials before that seminar meets.

Tests and Responsibility to Complete the Readings on Time

The success of the seminar depends on each member reading each assigned text on time and then contributing to our discussion on a level to be expected of a graduate student.  If it becomes apparent that some people are not adequately prepared, it may be necessary to resort to brief tests on the readings the date they are due.  Let’s try to avoid that.  There will be no midterm or final examination.

Listserv   As soon as possible, please provide your e-mail address for our listserv.  In the past, the listserv has been quite a valuable asset for the seminar.  Please use it to continue discussions from the seminar, to raise interesting issues about the readings due for the next class meeting, and to bring resources and information to our attention.