English 173 - Summer Sessions I, 2016

Science Fiction

Class Information

Instructor: Ziser, Michael
CRN: 53643
Time: MTW 4:10-5:50
Location: 1060 Bainer


    In his despairing book Eaarth, environmentalist Bill McKibben argues that humankind is already inadvertently pioneering life on the “tough new planet” created by generations of ecological exploitation of the “old” earth-- no space travel required. Whatever the merits of his particular argument, the rhetorical mix of science-fictional and ecological tropes alerts us to the profound and longstanding entanglement of sf and the environment. This summer course will explore these connections, connecting classic sf texts with environmental themes like deep time, anthropocentrism, animal minds, critiques of agriculture, food systems, ecological colonialism, overpopulation, energy regimes, genetic modification, urban sprawl, endangered species, toxic waste, and natural disaster. As we will see, environmental histories and futures look very different when viewed through the eyes of speculative sf writers—and science fiction becomes a different kind of enterprise when it is understood as fundamentally environmental.


    Attendance and Participation: 10%
    Midterm: 20%
    Final Exam: 20%
    First Paper (5pp): 25%
    Second Paper (5pp): 25%


    A Princess of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
    Last and First Men, Olaf Stapledon
    Sirius, Olaf Stapledon
    The Martian Chronicles, Malcolm Bradbury
    Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
    Martian Time-Slip, Philip K. Dick
    The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov
    Startide Rising, David Brin
    Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
    The Time Machine, H. G Wells