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Speculative Fiction

MSC, SUMMER 2008 DR. GERALD LUCAS TUES & THUR 12:30-2:50, H/SS-122

Spec-Fic covers
many genres of
fiction, from science
fiction to magical

ENGL 4482: Popular Culture

about the future. Does speculative fiction to come to a more critical understanding
In its simplest sense, differ in any way from science fiction? Is of spec-fic. How does it, then, relate to
speculative fiction this difference significant? Is speculative genre fiction as a whole? Does its very
asks a “what if ” fiction a sub-genre of science fiction, or name suggest a more critical approach to
vice versa? Are there other genres
question of reality. that might also be considered
This section of ENGL 4482 Popular speculative? “Science fiction is that
Culture will
Along with our look at branch of literature which
c o n s i d e r
science fiction, we will also is
speculative fiction concerned with the impa
(spec-fic), attempt consider texts within genres that are ct
to arrive at a not necessarily science fiction, but of scientific advance upon
critical definition, that seem to be speculative in nature,
like fantasy, magical realism, human beings.” —I. Asim
examine its various ov
f o r m s, p l a c e i t alternate histories, slipstream, and
within a social even horror. If these genres, too, can
context, and its be considered speculative fiction,
c u l t u r a l then treating spec-fic the same as
genre fiction; i.e., is spec-fic defined not
significance. science fiction must be reconsidered.
by the genre of the text, but by the
Our ongoing task this semester critical, thought-provoking nature of the
Many consider text regardless of genre or subject
“speculative fiction” as a synonym for will be to consider the speculative nature
of each of the texts we read in an effort matter? Does that, then, make spec-fic
science fiction, since the latter speculates the literature of genre fiction?

The information presented on this syllabus is Dr. Gerald R. Lucas

current as of Tuesday, May 27, 2008. For the Office: H/SS-117 • Hours: TR 11a-12pm & by appointment
most accurate information, see the course web •
site: <>.
Required Materials Skeleton Reading Schedule
Our study of spec-fic will use the This schedule represents the ideal outline for our study this semester, but it is
following texts: tentative and subject to change. Individual stories may be downloaded via the
course web site; they should be printed on dead trees and brought with you to class.
‣ Mikhail Bulgakov. The Master and
5/27 Borges “Garden of the Forking Paths”, Gibson “Gernsback Continuum”
‣ Octavia Butler. Kindred.
‣ Steve Niles. Richard Matheson’s I Am 6/3 Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, Part 1
6/5 Bulgakov The Master and Margarita, Part 2
‣ Stanislaw Lem. Solaris.
‣ Sherri Tepper. The Gate to Women’s 6/10 García-Márquez “The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World”; Ballard
Country. “The Drowned Giant”
‣ Various short stories as downloadable
6/12 Calvino “The Distance of the Moon”
6/17 Butler Kindred, Prologue through “The Fight”
Th e s e b o o k s a n d s t o r i e s
should accompany you to class on 6/19 Butler Kindred, “The Storm” to end
the day they are assigned to be read (see
Reading Schedule), as we will make 6/24 Niles (Matheson) I Am Legend
heavy use of them in our daily
discussions. Please do not come to class 6/26 Niven “Man of Steel”; Di Filippo “Virus”
without your text(s).
7/1 Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country, Chapters 1-19
You should also bring an ink
7/3 Tepper The Gate to Women’s Country, Chapters 20-35
interface of some sort, as well as dead
trees on which to take notes. You should 7/8 Tiptree, Jr. “The Girl Who Was Plugged In”
not sit in class like you’re watching TV:
learning requires active participation, 7/10 Ballard “The Enormous Space” & “Space Station”
especially in a shorter summer course.
7/15 Lem Solaris, “The Arrival” through “The Conference”
Finally, since class lecture and
discussion will often touch on the 7/17 Lem Solaris, “The Monsters” through “The Old Mimoid”
controversial, this college classroom is not
7/22 Final Exam: 6-8pm
an appropriate place for children. Please
leave them at home.

Course Requirements
There are three major this material, and your creativity in going
requirements for this section of beyond the discussion and lecture
ENGL 4482, each of which must be materials. The final exam will include
successfully completed to pass the course. v o c a b u l a r y, i d e n t i fi c a t i o n , a n d
Assignments are weighted on a point interpretation. All exam grades will be
system, depending on their importance. based upon objective knowledge of the
For example, a reading quiz might have material, thoroughness, depth of insight,
10 points while the final exam might have precision, and originality.
For each class period, you are
A final cumulative exam will be required to respond in writing. In most
given that will test your knowledge of cases, these responses will be written in
the subject matter (texts, lecture material, an online forum directly after class, so the
Science fiction “is the myth-making principle of and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize entire class can benefit from reading your
human nature today.” —Lester del Rey
Continued on last page

Course Policies
ASSIGNMENTS to participate in the discussion. Do not enclose it in
come to class without your books and quotation marks, and cite
Yo u r w o r k r e p r e s e n t s y o u .
something to write with and on. the source using M L A
Therefore, I expect everything you turn
Everyday. Seriously. citation style. A paraphrase employs
into me to exemplify the very best of your
source material by restating an idea
professional self. Please proofread all All non-course-related materials — in an entirely new form that is
work before submission. especially electronic communication original in both sentence structure
devices, like cell phones, bluetooth and word choice. Quotations and
earpieces, iPods, etc. — should be left in paraphrases must be cited to avoid
Attendance will be taken at every your car. They are not needed for our plagiarism.
class meeting. If you come in late, it is class and should, therefore, not
your responsibility to inform me of your accompany you. I understand our 2. If you use ideas or information that
presence that day. If you fail to do so, you contemporary need to be in contact with are not common knowledge, you
are absent. Two tardies count as one everyone all the time, but do not let this must cite a source.
absence. There are no “excused personal need distract the rest of the
Unsure as to what to cite, when to cite,
absences” in my class, but you are
and how to cite? Check your handbook
allowed to miss one class before your
grade suffers. Each additional class “Science fiction represent for the best information.
s the
missed beyond the allotted one will result modern heresy and the cu The professor reserves the right to
in your final semester’s grade being tting
edge of speculative imag use Turn It In, a plagiarism prevention
dropped one letter. ination service, to evaluate any written work
as it grapples with Myster
DEADLINES ious submitted for this course. As directed by
Time—linear or non-lin the professor, students are expected to
Late work is not acceptable and will
ear submit or have their assignments
time.” —Frank Herbert
receive a zero. Technical, computer submitted through the service in order to
malfunctions are not acceptable excuses meet requirements for this course. The
for late work. Quizzes and in-class papers may be retained by the service for
activities cannot be made up for any the sole purpose of checking for
class. If you answer a cell phone in my
reason. plagiarized content in future student
class, I will expect you to leave. In
EMAIL addition, I do not allow class discussions
to be taped, so do not bring any voice SPECIAL NEEDS
The best and quickest way of recording devices to class.
contacting me is via email. Only use the Any student who has special needs
email address that I provided on this Let’s try to keep eating and drinking should contact Ann E. Loyd at the
document for class business: to a minimum. Eat your dinner and Counseling and Career Center
<>. snacks before you come to class. ( 4 7 8 - 4 7 1 - 2 7 1 4 ) a n d fi l l o u t t h e
appropriate paperwork. The student
GRADES PLAGIARISM should then see me with the
Any time you use ideas that are not documentation so that the necessary
Letter grades are based upon a
your own — be they paraphrased or accommodations can be made.
traditional ten-point scale. If you would
like to know your official grade, you copied verbatim — in anything that you
should see me during my office hours or write, you must supply a citation in an
make an appointment. identifiable citation method, e.g., MLA, Computer competency is an integral
Chicago, etc. Willful plagiarism will result skill in any discipline. Students should be
MATERIALS in automatic failure of this class and will familiar with the general uses of a
be submitted to the Dean for further computer, particularly using a web
Course readings are an integral part
potential consequences. Remember two browser. Students should be willing to put
of the class and should be brought daily.
things: forth the effort to learn what they need to
When readings are assigned to be
in order to succeed in the course. Please
discussed in class, please bring a copy of 1. If you use the language of your see me for additional assistance.
the reading with your reading notes ready source, you must quote it exactly,

Course Procedure and
Class Time
will have the opportunity to pose
Every class will follow these questions for discussion.
a similar procedure,
beginning promptly at 4. Discussion — Most of the class
period will be our attempt to answer
the start of class: the questions posed at the beginning
1. Attendance — If you come in late, of the class.
it is your responsibility to ask me to
5. Forum — If all goes well, we should
mark you present. Remember, two
close the class each day in a
tardies count as an absence.
computer-assisted classroom, so that
2. Reading Quiz — Since reading is we may end each day with the forum,
such an important component of this in which you will respond to an initial
course, you should expect a quiz for prompt, then comment on others’
every assigned reading. These quizzes posts.
are designed to test factual aspects of
While you will not be quizzed “Science Fiction is speculative
the text, not interpretation or
evaluation. Read every text carefully
everyday, you should always prepare for fiction in which the author takes
a quiz: this means that you should read as his first postulate the real
and take reading notes — character
carefully, and be ready to discuss the
names, general plot, important items,
assigned texts. Knowing the assigned
world as we know it, including
etc. — and the quizzes will be no
texts is paramount for this course, for all established facts and natural
most of our time will be spent on laws. The result can be
3. Posing Questions — As you read discussion of the texts. If you come extremely fantastic in content,
each assigned text, consider aspects of unprepared, you are not only hurting but it is not fantasy; it is
the text that are confusing or unclear. yourself, but hampering the class. legitimate—and often very
When you finish reading, write down
Finally, we will not follow this tightly reasoned—speculation
at least five questions that you have about the possibilities of the real
procedure ever yday. Sometimes
about the text. These questions
should be in an effort to gain further
discussing will proceed naturally, so we world.” —Robert Heinlein
will not make ourselves slaves to a certain
insight to the text for yourself and
procedure. Come ready to discuss.
your classmates. After the quiz, you

Continued from page 2

Course Requirements
thoughts. The forum will also give you a chance to respond to others’ ideas. Your writing in
the forum should total at least 350 words, including an initial response to the text and a
comment (or several) on your classmates’ entries.

The purpose of these responses is to get you thinking about issues covered in
the works that are important to you. You should reflect on how these works relate to other
works we discuss in class, literature you have read previously, your own daily life, and class
discussion. All entries should be thoughtful, refer to specific portions of the text on which
you're writing, and use the critical vocabulary that we have introduced in class. You can
access the forum at Other writing will be assigned in class.

“That's really what SF is all about, you know: Regular class attendance, question posing, and active participation in
the big reality that pervades the real world we live
classroom discussions are required. Participation, effort, and attitude will count
in: the reality of change. Science fiction is the very
literature of change.” —Frederick Pohl significantly in this course. Quizzes, other class activities, and homework assignments not
explicitly outlined above will be considered daily work.


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