The University of Liverpool MA in Science Fiction Studies Handbook 2001-2002

* by Mr Andy Sawyer in July 2001
* I received this handbook as my application was accepted

This is essentially a draft Reading List; actual texts chosen might be somewhat different, depending on their availability and initial discussions.

You will be coming to science fiction from a number of different approaches, so initially: please read as much sf as you can and in particular read around the extensive history and criticism of the subject. The best inexpensive history of sf, Edward James's Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century, is unfortunately out of print. If you find a copy, grab it. An alternative, more biased towards traditional literary theoretics, is Adam Roberts, Science Fiction (Routledge): Roberts has also published two sf novels. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, is the finest reference book in the field, and is available on CD-ROM with a much improved search facility available from David Langford -- see his web page at

Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction is essential, but then again I am one of its editors: for details of links to Foundation and other sf sites see


Aims and Objectives
The course will provide a framework for the study of Science Fiction in its formal, stylistic and thematic characteristics. It also aims to introduce you to the critical and theoretical issues raised by Science Fiction such as the origins and limits of the genre, its engagement with political ideology, its exploration of gender categories, and its speculations on the nature of time.
The objective of the course is not only to present a broad selection of literary texts from the field, but also to produce intellectual versatility in its graduates by encouraging them to approach the course materials from a range of different theoretical viewpoints.

Course Structure in Detail:
Semesters 1 and 2 (to mid-May): 2 modules, each lasting 12 weeks; one 2-hour and one 1-hour seminar per week.
May-September: supervised dissertation.

During Semesters 1 and 2 students will also receive tuition in research methods within the English Department, and may, until the end of term III, attend lectures on the History of Science and Technology (Department of Physics).

Semester I
1. Genre Definitions
2. Time and Consciousness

Semester II
1. Utopias and Dystopias
2. H. G. Wells and Modern Science Fiction

For the remainder of the summer students will work with a tutor on a dissertation of approximately 15,000 words which may be comparative, theoretical or author-based.

Core Module I: Genre Definitions


Aims and Objectives:
This purpose of the module is to introduce the critical debate within and about the field of SF, and some of the fundamental concepts about what SF is and what is does. Among the concepts examined will be the 'postgothic' identified by Brian Aldiss, Hugo Gernsback's notion of 'scientifiction', the 'scientific romance', 'hard science fiction' and John W. Campbell's concept of SF as a literary equivalent to scientific methodology, 'speculative fiction' and the New Wave, and SF as postmodernism. Such theoretical concepts will be further developed during the rest of the module. Comparison of SF texts and cinematic adaptation will enable analysis of the potentialities and limitations of each medium, and texts and films which overlap the horror genre will be studied to address questions of generic hybridity and how this facilitates questions of bodily and gendered identity. Finally, works which are not precisely science fiction in the usual sense, or have been assimilated into so-called mainstream literature, will be examined as examples of shared imaginative territory or narrative conventions.

Primary texts will be chosen from the following:

a) Definitions
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Hugo Gernsback, Ralph 124C 41+
Rudyard Kipling, 'With the Night Mail'
H. G. Wells, selected short stories
Tom Godwin, 'The Cold Equations'
William Gibson, 'The Gernsback Continuum'
Tom Shippey (ed.), The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
J. G. Ballard, Crash
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Philip K. Dick, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch or Ubik

b) Film
Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953) / Francois Truffaut, Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Arthur C. Clarke, 'The Sentinel' (1951) / Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Harlan Ellison, 'A Boy and His Dog' (1969) / L. Q. Jones, A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Philip K. Dick, 'We Can Remeber It for You Wholesale' (1966) / Paul Verhoeven, Total Recall (1990), or
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) / Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1982)

c) Horror
H. P. Lovecraft, 'The Shadow Out of Time'
Edgar Allan Poe, 'The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar'
Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory
A. E. Van Vogt, The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Ridley Scott (dir.), Alien

d) Near-SF
Don Delillo, White Noise
J. G. Ballard, selected short stories
Donald Bartheleme, selected short stories
Jorge Luis Borges, selected short stories
Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics
Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker
Franz Kafka, selected short stories
Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions

Damien Broderick, Reading by Starlight
Christine Brooke-Rose, A Rhetoric of the Unreal
Samuel R. Delany, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw
N. Katherine Hayles (ed.), Chaos and Order: Complex Dynamics in Literature and Science
Tom Shippey (ed.), Fictional Space
Darko Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction
Darko Suvin, Positions and Presuppositions in Science Fiction
Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic
Annette Kuhn (ed.), Alien Zone
Slavoj Zizek, Looking Awry
Ted Morgan, Literary Outlaw
James Donald (ed.), Fantasy and the Cinema
Kim Newman, Nightmare Movies
Rosemary Jackson, Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion
Carl Freedman, Critical Theory and Science Fiction
Gary Westfahl, The Mechanics of Wonder: The Creation of the Idea of Science Fiction

Special Module I: Time and Consciousness


Aims and Objectives
The aim of this option is to examine some of the philosophical questions raised by science fiction. Science fiction allows difficult conceptual questions to be asked through the medium of fiction. Questions which relate to the philosophy of mind and moral philosophy are raised by robot narratives such as those by Asimov, whilst time-travel fantasies and alternative histories can challenge the notion of causuality, or question the nature and status of time. Science fiction texts will be used as the starting point for discussion of a range of related philosophical questions, focussing on the issues of time and consciousness.

Primary texts will be chosen from the following:

a) Consciousness
Isaac Asimov, I, Robot, The Rest of Robots, The Caves of Steel
Barrington J. Bayley, The Soul of the Robot
Karel Capek, R. U. R.
Karel Capek, War with the Newts
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Philip Jose Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, and others
R. A. Lafferty, Past Master
R. A. Lafferty, Arrive at Easterwine
Stanislaw Lem, Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and others
Dan Simmons, Hyperion

b) Time
Poul Anderson, There Will Be Time, The Corridors of Time, The Guardians of Time
Isaac Asimov, The End of Eternity
Barrington J. Bayley, The Fall of Chronopolis
Gregory Benford, Timescape
John Brunner, Times Without Number
John Crowley, Great Work of Time
David Gerrold, The Man Who Folded Himself
Robert A. Heinlein, 'All You Zombies ......', 'By His Bootstraps'
Fritz Leiber, The Big Time

Margaret A. Boden (ed.), The Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
Stephen R. L. Clark, From Athens to Jerusalem
Daniel C. Dennett, Consciousness Explained
Daniel C. Dennett & Douglas R. Hofstadter (eds.), The Mind's I
Michael Lockwood, Mind, Brain and the Quantum
Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions
Roger Penrose, The Emperor's New Mind
Howard Robinson & Raymond Tallis (ed.), The Pursuit of Mind
Paul Davies, The Mind of God
J. T. Fraser (ed.), The Voices of Time
Richard M. Gale (ed.), The Philosophy of Time
John Leslie (ed.), Physical Cosmology and Philosophy
David Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds
D. H. Mellor, Real Time
Arthur N. Prior, Past, Present and Future

Core Module II: Utopias and Dystopias


Aims and Objectives

This module examines the intimate relation between science fiction and the utopian imagination. Science fiction has permitted utopian imaginings often premised upon the supposed promises of science. Profound fears about the modern world have been articulated through dystopian fictions. Feminist science fiction has found the tropes and literary conventions of utopian and dystopian fiction useful as the means to envisage post-patriarchal possibilities or warn against sexist ideologies. During the course of the module, a range of utopian and dystopian writing from the late nineteenth century to the present day will be studied.

Preliminary texts will be chosen from the following:
Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward
William Morris, News From Nowhere
H. G. Wells, A Modern Utopia
Yevgeny Zamyatin, We
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Player Piano
Joseph O'Neill, Land Under England
Iain M. Banks, The State of the Art and The Player of Games
Kim Stanley Robinson, The "Orange County" Trilogy: The Wild Shore, The Gold Coast, Pacific Edge
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine
H. G. Wells, The Shape of Things to Come
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four
Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor
William Gibson, Neuromancer
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland
Katherine Burdekin, Swastika Night
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
Sally Miller Gearhart, Wanderground
Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Joanna Russ, The Female Man
Suzette Haden Elgin, Native Tongue
Doris Lessing, The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five
Ken MacLeod, The Star Fraction

Fritz Lang (dir.), Metropolis
Ridley Scott (dir.), Blade Runner
George Lucas (dir.), THX 1388

Gayle Green & Coppelia Kahn (eds.), Making A Difference: Feminist Literary Criticism
Elaine Showalter (ed.), The New Feminist Criticism
Lucie Armin (ed.), Where No Man Has Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction
Mary Kenny Badami, 'A Feminist Critique of Science Fiction' in Extrapolation 18 No. 1, December 1976
Marleen Barr (ed.), Future Females: A Critical Anthology
Marleen Barr, Alien to Femininity: Speculative Fiction and Feminist Theory
Marleen Barr, Feminist Fabulation: Space/Postmodern Fiction
Sarah Lefanu, In the Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction
Natalie M. Rosinsky, Feminist Futures: Contemporary Women's Speculative Fiction
Jane Weedman (ed.), Women Worldwalkers: New Dimensions of Science Fiction and Fantasy
Jenny Wolmark, Aliens and Others
Friedrich Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific
A. L. Morton, The English Utopia
Tom Moylan, Demand the Impossible: Science Fiction and the Utopian Imagination
Robert C. Elliott, The Shape of Utopia: Studies in a Literary Genre
Richard Gerber, Utopian Fantasy
Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited
Frank E. Manuel (ed.), Utopias and Utopian Thought
Krishan Kumar, Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Time
Joanna Russ, 'Recent Feminist Utopias' in Barr, ed., Future Females: A Critical Anthology

Special Topic II: H. G. Wells and Modern Science Fiction


Aims and Objectives

This module will examine the work of one of the 'founding fathers' of SF before the genre crystallised as a named mode of writing, and will look at how the work of Wells influence science fiction in the twentieth century. Selected texts and previous reading will show how the influence of Wells is still a major force in science fiction. This module will encourage the examination of works explicitly or implicitly influenced by Wells as well as the primary texts, and will bring together the strands of technocratic utopianism and scientific speculation.

Preliminary texts will be chosen from the following:

a) introduction
H. G. Wells, selected short stories

b) space exploration
H. G. Wells, The First Men in the Moon
Arthur C. Clarke, A Fall of Moondust
Robert A. Heinlein, 'The Man Who Sold the Moon'

c) invasion
H. G. Wells, The War of the Worlds / George Pal (dir.), The War of the Worlds (1953)
Orson Welles's radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds
Olaf Stapledon, Last and First Men
C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos
Robert A. Heinlein, The Puppet Masters
Thomas M. Disch, The Genocides

d) biological engineering
H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau
Joseph Nesvadha, 'Doctor Moreau's Other Island'
Brian Aldiss, Moreau's Other Island
Cordwainer Smith, 'The Dead Lady of Clown Town'

e) time and history
H. G. Wells, The Time Machine / George Pal (dir.), The Time Machine
Stephen Baxter, The Time Ships
Don A. Stuart (John W. Campbell Jr.), 'Twlight'

f) utopias and dystopias
H. G. Wells, The Shape of Things to Come / 'A Story of the Days to Come'
E. M. Forster, 'The Machine Stops'
Robert A. Heinlein, 'The Roads Must Roll'
S. Fowler Wright, 'P. N. 40' and 'Automata'
Frederik Pohl, 'Day Million'

Patrick Parrinder, Shadows of the Future
Jack Williamson, H. G. Wells: Critic of Progress
Darko Suvin & Robert M. Philmus (eds.), H. G. Wells and Modern Science Fiction
David C. Smith, H. G. Wells: Desperately Mortal
Robert Philmus & David Y. Hughes (eds.), H. G. Wells: Early Writings in Science and Science Fiction
Roslyn D. Hayles, H. G. Wells: Discover of the Future
Mark R. Hillegas, The Future as Nightmare: H. G. Wells and the Anti-Utopias

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...