Genre Definition Module: Essays

Science Fiction Studies MA

Genre Definition Module: Essays
* Assigned by Mr Andy Sawyer

These are suggestions only. Please feel free to adapt.

1. Is sf a "realistic" or a "fantastic" mode?

2. When does a novel or story become science fiction? Discuss with reference to at least one novel published as science fiction and at least one novel of the past 50 years not published as sf.

3. Is there a "true history" of science fiction?
My own essay: http://danjalin.blogspot.com/2007/07/is-there-true-history-of-science.html

4. "Sf is no more written for scientists than ghost stories are for ghosts." (Brian Aldiss) What is the role of science or the scientific method in science fiction?

5. If science fiction did not exist, would we have to invent it?

6. "...... the work which best explains and informs Gibson's Neuromancer is Gernsback's Ralph 124C 41+." (Gary Westfahl, "On the True History of Science Fiction")

7. Is science fiction the familiar transformed or the incredible made plausible?

8. The hero of a science fiction story is the physical universe itself.

9. In adapting a science fiction story to the cinema the generic conventions of both -- especially their strengths -- get in the way.

10. "Sf aspires to alternate history as the future catches up with it." Discuss with reference to the British moon landings, the establishment of Ingsoc, or any other "predictive" sf.

11. How far is conventional criticism of the Fantastic (e.g. Tzvetan Todorov or Rosemary Jackson) useful in criticising science fiction?

12. Taking at least two sf works you have considered, explain how they exist in response to what Damian Broderick calls the "mega-text" of science fiction, and how in turn other works open up a dialogue with them.

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