Skip to main content

EN9B4 - Brave New Worlds - Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Tutor: Tim Leach

2017/18: Tuesday, 3-5pm, F.25a

This module offers an opportunity for students to engage with specific challenges of science fiction and fantasy writing, including (but not limited to): the use and inversion of existing genre tropes and conventions, convincing world building, ‘hard’ vs ‘soft’ science fiction, heroic and anti-heroic fantasy writing. Students will be expected to develop a rigorous, historical and comprehensive understanding of the genre they wish to write in, and (in keeping with the title of the module) to create work that is bold, original, and convincing in its portrayal of an invented world.

Rather than look at each of the specific genres in turn, the course will seek to explore the common ground between the genres. As such, there will be a particular focus on authors (such as China Mieville and Ursula Le Guin) who have written both science fiction and fantasy. In the latter part of the module, we will increasingly focus on the practical elements of genre writing – planning, research, character development – and will emphasise workshopping and peer review to allow students to develop their own writing within a supportive and critical environment.

Week 1 - Entrances and Awakenings

At The Mountains of Madness, H P Lovecraft; 'The Tower of the Elephant', Robert E Howard

Week 2 - Journeys and Quests

Reading: A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin

Week 3 - Politics and Puzzles

Reading: The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin; 'The Library of Babel', Jorge Luis Borges

Week 4 - Worlds and Rules

Reading: Perdido Street Station, China Mieville

Week 5 - Language and the Alien

Reading: Embassytown, China Mieville

Week 6 - Writing Workshop

Week 7 - Voices and Silences

Reading: The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Week 8 - Memories and Loss

Reading: The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro; 'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale', Philip K Dick

Week 9 - Gods and Monsters

Reading: A Canticle For Leibowitz (Part 1, Fiat Homo), Walter M. Miller; 'Hell is the Absence of God', Ted Chiang

Week 10 - Writing Workshop

Primary Reading List

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

'The Library of Babel', Jorge Luis Borges

'Hell is the Absence of God', Ted Chiang

'We Can Remember It For You Wholesale', Philip K Dick

'The Tower of the Elephant', Robert E Howard

The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin

The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin

At The Mountains of Madness, H P Lovecraft

Perdido Street Station, China Mieville

Embassytown, China Mieville

A Canticle For Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller

Assessment:

Assessed portfolio of 10,000 words (45 CATS) or 6000 words (30 CATS). Students must submit a portfolio of 70% creative work and 30% essay. Students on the MA in English Literature may choose to submit a portfolio of 70% creative work and 30% essay OR 100% essay.