Collage of four images. Top left: LENT, by Jo Walton. Top right: headshot of author Jo Walton. Bottom left: headshot of author Ada Palmer. Bottom right: PERHAPS THE STARS, by Ada Palmer.

The History of Science Fiction


This course was available in the past and may be presented again as part of the Open Enrollment curriculum.

Co-taught by two award-winning science fiction novelists, who are both also historians and critics of the field, this course examines the evolution of science fiction literature from its pre-modern roots to the present, looking at the genre's relationship with political and social movements, and changes in science and technology. Focus on book history, and the effects of publisher, bookstore, and physical limitations on what kinds of books and stories were printed and circulated. Examination of short fiction as well as novels, with readings including Voltaire, Heinlein, Le Guin, Delany, Kowal, Kritzer and others.  Discussions will also look at contemporary science fiction, fandom history, the Hugos and other F&SF awards, the diversification of science fiction authors, editors, and readers, international SF, and SF in translation.

Course Syllabus

Course Outline

Full-Length Books (that you may want to purchase)

If you prefer reading paper books, it is recommended that you purchase the following books from the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. If you already own a different edition of one of these books, or have found one online etc., you are welcome to use that instead, but page numbers may not correspond, which can create difficulties when we read selections instead of complete works (mainly relevant to Diderot).

The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin ISBN 9780061054884

Triton, Samuel R. Delany  ISBN 9780819562982

Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh (hard to find, search at used bookstores) ISBN 9780446671279

Pluto volume 1, Naoki Urasawa (VIS graphic novel) ISBN 9781421519180

Too Like the Lightning, Ada Palmer ISBN 9780765378019

Seven Surrenders, Ada Palmer ISBN 9780765378026

PDFs of short stories and excerpts will be on the Canvas site in the Modules.


Online registration closes on December 29 at 5 pm CT.