This Spring we are delighted to offer a ten week course in science fiction. The only genre to really keep pace with the technological and social changes of the twentieth century, science fiction is often viewed by the uninitiated as escapist pulp aimed at an undiscerning readership. Nothing could be further from the truth. Once a peripheral species of writing, science fiction has moved, and now dominates, mainstream.
The short story has always held a particular position of importance within this discipline. Some of the most talented SF writers utilise this mode almost exclusively, and their work combines the imaginative breadth of the genre with the stylistic rigour and intellectual depth of the literary sphere. Gender, politics, technology, history, philosophy – science fiction is an ideal vehicle for investigation and play with developments in these fields.
This programme follows a historical approach. It begins with writers from the early twentieth century and proceeds through the Golden Age of science fiction, the New Wave movement and Cyberpunk before finally considering the composition of the field in the early twenty-first century. The reading material consists of works from award-winning authors and each story is paradigmmatic of a type often encountered in the genre. First contact, virtual reality, gender conflict, environmental collapse, time travel, dystopy – there are many of these narrative standards within SF and over the ten week period we will examine how different authors have engaged with them to produce stories that are distinctive and novel in their own right. Readings will be disseminated before class, and the course will have a production focus, with phased deadlines for the different stages of your story as it evolves from idea into print.
What’s Required Of You
This class asks three things of a participant: to read, think, and write. Each week readings will be disseminated from a range of the best SF authors the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have to offer. The readings will be selected on the basis of their ability to illuminate the topic under consideration that week. Writing classes are generally discussion-based, and this course encourages its participants to consider specific issues in the circulated texts and come to class armed with their own point of view. There are no expert opinions in writing classes. What each student thinks matters, because in the final analysis each author is the ultimate frame of reference for their own work. One of the most important benefits a writing class can offer is the opportunity to develop the habit of writing regularly. Practise and discipline are integral to developing your skills as a writer. In week one, two and four a short writing task will be disseminated at the end of class. These are intended to kick-start the writing process for students, and can be incorporated into the main piece of fiction each person is required to produce. Submissions begin in week seven, and each student’s project will be discussed and work-shopped in class.
What’s Required Of Us
We commit to providing a safe, friendly, convivial environment in our classrom on the penthouse floor of a beautiful Georgian building overlooking Nassau St. and Merrion Square. We will provide interesting, thought-provoking reading material each week to stimulate and inspire, and everything a student writes for this class, whether an exercise or the main piece of fiction, will be returned to them with a thorough copy edit and detailed advise. Each student will have two one-on-one sessions with the tutor, the first in weeks 5-6, and the second in weeks 9-10. Classroom discussions will be lead by the tutor in a courteous and considerate manner, and students and their work will at all times be treated with diligence and respect.
Who The Course Is For
This course is for anyone with an interest in science fiction. Whether a longtime fan of the genre, or someone with little background in the area but who chafes under the realistic conventions and rules of regular fiction, this course will expose you to some of the best writers in this field.