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Brave New Worlds: Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy

Convenor and Tutor: Mr Tim Leach
Overview

In the last few years, science fiction and fantasy have taken a bold leap into the mainstream of popular culture. From Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones, Stranger Things to the Expanse, there's perhaps never been a greater appetite for stories of the strange and fantastic. In 'Brave New Worlds', we seek to understand why these genres have seen such a sudden surge in popularity, and how we might make our own creative contributions to them.

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.

Assessment will be via a mixture of creative writing and reflective commentary.

Recommended Reading

The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

Leviathan Wakes, James SA Corey

Under the Skin, Michael Faber

A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin

The Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin

The Fifth Season, N.K Jemison

Perdido Street Station, China Mieville

Embassytown, China Mieville