Science Fiction and Fantasy in Fall Classes

Spiral galazy M81 (NASA)

Spiral galaxy M81, captured in ultraviolet, visible, and infrared light Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Hello again from your Sci Fi Librarian, with some tips about expressing your love of sci fi  and/or fantasy -- reading *or* writing --  in classes being offered this Fall. (Read the full class description to see any restrictions.)

In Visual Reality (Art, AS.371.149), students are encouraged to create representations of “alternative realities, those realities or truths which exist only in daydreams or nightmares.”

Get some ideas for your tales about space exploration in Planets, Life, and the Universe (Earth and Planetary Science, AS.020.334): “planet formation, Earth's evolution, extrasolar planets, habitable zones, life in extreme environments, the search for life in the Universe, space missions, and planetary protection.”

Ethics of Climate Change (Philosophy, AS.150.408) – Here are some great story plots: “How much do present generations owe future generations? Who…should bear more of the burden of mitigating climate change--rich countries or individuals, those more historically responsible for greenhouse gas emissions, those who currently emit the most, or some other group?"

After the world’s environment has changed, you’ll need to know about Food Politics (Political Science, AS.190.405), and maybe even the Politics of Outer Space (AS.190.443). (You wouldn't *believe* how political outer space can be.)

Pretty much *anything* offered by Cognitive Science or Neuroscience will be helpful for your sci fi reading and writing. Try this one: The Making of a Cognitive Map: Insights from Brains, Behaviors and Robots (Neuroscience, AS.080.312). “Imagine you are in a random place in your neighborhood. You wouldn’t need a map (or your smartphone) to find your way home. You would just know the way because the map of your neighborhood is stored in your brain. But where in your brain? And how can your neurons conjure up a map?” (Speaking of robots, here are the REAL I, Robot stories. This one, too.)

Let’s take a break for some films in The Apocalypse in Literature and Film (Film and Media Studies, AS.216.444). “What is the…biblical apocalypse, dystopia and nostalgia, trauma and post trauma, war and the apocalypse,…the atomic bomb,…and the apocalypse in popular culture?” Find plenty more apocalypse (but hope, too) in the excellent Station Eleven.

When in unfriendly locations such as arena with fanged aliens, you will need to know about predatory behaviors and escape (trust me on this). Better try Sensing and Action in Predator/Prey Encounters (Behavioral Biology, AS.200.319).

Economics has some very juicy titles, which are, unfortunately, mostly wait-listed. But in the meantime, try some economic dystopias such as Margaret Atwood’s The Heart Goes Last, or Lionel Shriver's The Mandibles: a family, 2029-2047.

Expository Writing is offering Science Fiction, Gender, and Sexuality (AS 060.113). Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula LeGuin. Of course.

Or, learn how to design video games. Introduction to Video Game Design (Computer Science, EN 601.255) is a “survey course...covering artistic, technical, [and] sociological aspects of video games. Students will learn about the history of video games, archetypal game styles, computer graphics and programming,... character animation, basic game physics, plot and character development, as well as psychological and sociological impact of games." And please treat yourself to Ernest Cline's extremely fun Ready Player One.

Museums have been the settings in some of my favorite sci fi novels.  Introduction to the Museum (Museums and Society, AS.389.201) will help you appreciate Ira Levin's unforgettable This Perfect Day, and especially Mike Resnick’s stunning Ivory.

Make sure to tell your F&SF-loving friends about these classes, too!

 

About Sue Vazakas

Science/Engineering Librarian and devoted reader.

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