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Science Fiction

ENG 316

Science Fiction

  • Course ID:ENG 316
  • Semesters:1
  • Department:English
  • Teachers:Joseph Bissex

Description and Objectives

Science fiction as a genre is notoriously difficult to define. Our objective is to explore the literature commonly associated with the genre to find common themes, principles, and styles, and in the process a better understanding of our own destination, personally and as the human race.

Topics Covered

  • The origins of science fiction. Did the genre start with a Roman author? With Johannes Kepler? With Shelley, Verne, and Wells?
  • How different authors meet different definitions.
  • The effect of different styles on our understanding of our own experience.


  • Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr
  • Short stories of H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Joseph G. Breslin
  • Excerpts from Jules Verne, Robert A. Heinlein, Andy Weir, Michael Crichton

Course Requirements


  • Staying a minimum of 30 pages ahead of the most recent class discussion. One efficacious strategy is to speed-read once through, and comb through it a second time, more carefully, via class discussions, notes, and assignments.
  • Active class participation and critical questioning.
  • Evidence of care in preparation for written and performance assignments
  • Above all, turn in essays early and take advantage of the rewrite option.


  • Assignments vary from quarter to quarter, but will include short critical essays, short creative writing projects, and in class active participation assignments.

Successful Students

Successful students will be on time, with books and notes in hand, and be prepared to engage the material.  They will display attentiveness to detail and foster habits of creative initiative and a collaborative spirit. Above all, they will turn in writing assignments early and take advantage of the rewrite option to raise their grade. Good writing is rewriting!