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EN3308 Science Fiction

Summer Reading List


Course Tutor: Professor Adam Roberts

Here is the structure of the course; try to read as many of these books, and if you can to see as many of these films, as you can over the summer. Frankenstein is online free at several locations (Project Gutenberg for instance) and Lang’s Metropolis is online (YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3PHhVsdpqQ) in its entirety for free. The other texts are fairly easily sourced. If you are finding it hard locating any of these texts, many SF e-books are available through the SF Gateway: http://www.sfgateway.com/


Week 1 Science Fiction: Origins, Definitions, Themes

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818)

Week 2 The Scientific Romance 1

H G Wells, The Time Machine (1895)

Week 3 The Scientific Romance 2

H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds (1898)

Week 4 SF and Film (I): Early Stages

Fritz Lang, Metropolis (1928)

Week 5 Utopia and Dystopia

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932)

Week 6 The Golden Age of SF (I)

Isaac Asimov, Foundation (1951)

Week 7 The Golden Age of SF (II)

Arthur Clarke, Childhood’s End (1953)

Week 8 The New Wave of SF (I)

Frank Herbert, Dune (1965)

Week 9 The New Wave of SF (II)

Philip Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968)

Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (1984)

Week 10 SF and Film II: ‘Art SF Cinema?’

Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)    


Week 11 SF and gender

Ursula Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969)

Week 12 SF and Film (III): SF vs. ‘sci-fi’

George Lucas, Star Wars (1977)

Week 13 Cyberpunk

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

Week 14 SF and Television

Star Trek versus Doctor Who

Week 15 SF and ‘reality’

The Wachowski brothers, The Matrix (1999)

Weeks 16-20

In the final five weeks of the course, the intention is to put the students in the driving seat. We will collectively decide on the topics for lecture/seminar discussion, and agree on readings: this will be discussed in the lecture and seminars for week 15, and coordinated via Moodle. Possible topics could include, but would not be limited to: Postcolonialism; Language and linguistics; Comics and graphic novels; Marxism; Posthumanism and Cyborg theory; Postmodernism; Queer Theory; Utopian theory; Virtualities; Environmentalism; Ethics; Alternate History; Steampunk; Weird Fiction; SF Music; SF Awards; Fandom and Fan Culture.

Criticism. One of the main critical resources for Science Fiction is now online, and free to access: John Clute, Peter Nicholls, David Langford and Graham Sleight (eds) The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (3rd edition: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/

The following books are recommended but not essential purchases:

Mark Bould, Andrew M Butker, Adam Roberts, Sheryl Vint (ed) The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction (Routledge 2009)

Edward James Science Fiction in the 20th Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994)

Roger Luckhurst, Science Fiction (Polity 2005)

Adam Roberts, The History of Science Fiction (Palgrave: 2006)


Use this list below selectively. You are not expected to read every part of every book on this list, but to regard it as a resource to help your work and revision. 

Aldiss, Brian & David Wingrove, Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction (Gollancz: London, 1986). [SH YBP Ald] A classic history of the genre. This is an updated version Aldiss’s Billion Year Spree (London : Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973)

Aldiss, Brian, The Detached Retina: Aspects of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Liverpool Univ. Press 1995). Collection of occasional pieces from this famous SF author: the quality is mixed, the emphasis more on early SF. [809.3876 ALD]

Armitt, Lucie (ed.), Where No Man Has Gone Before: Women and Science Fiction (London and New York: Routledge 1991). Collection of essays, including some good ones on Le Guin, Hollywood and Arthuriana. [809.3876 ARM]

Ash, Brian, Faces of the Future: the Lessons of Science Fiction (London 1975). Slightly old-fashioned study; as its title suggests, rather didactic. [[809.3876 ASH]

Barr, Marleen S., Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond (University of North Carolina Press 1993). Excellent feminist reading of a variety of female SF writing , both books and films. [SH YTQ7 Bar, or from Course Leader]

Broderick, Damien, Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction (London and New York: Routledge 1995). Not as good as it might have been; a little unfocused, but with many useful insights. Hard going overall, with a tough theoretical engagement, but lots of stuff on postmodernity and the SF of Sam Delany. [809.3876 BRO]

Bukatman, Scott, Terminal Identity: the Virtual Subject in Postmodern Science Fiction (Durham and London: Duke University Press 1993). Less effective, because more sprawly and ill-disciplined, than his booklet on Blade Runner, but stimulating and thorough on subjectivity and ‘virtual relalities’. Mostly cinematic SF. [809.3876 BUK]

Bukatman, Scott, Blade Runner (BFI Publishing 1997). An excellent little critique of the film from an excellent little series, the ‘BFI modern classics’; in all good bookshops. Bukatman is especially good on ‘eyes and seeing’ in the film. Other books in this series are also worth checking out, particularly Sean French’s reading of The Terminator and Michael Rogin’s political discussion of Independence Day. [809.3876 BUK]

Clute, John, Look at the Evidence: Essays and Reviews (Liverpool: Univ. Press 1995). Refreshingly up-to-date and always with a strong (sometimes bigoted) point of view; but the whole here is necessarily fragmented, since this is a collection of Clute’s various journalistic writings and reviews of SF 1987-92. [809.3876 CLU]

Csicsery-Ronay Jr, Istvan, ‘Science Fiction and Postmodernism’, Science Fiction Studies 18:3 (1991), 305-8. Fascinating article on SF and contemporary culture.

Delany, Samuel, Silent Interviews. On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction and Some Comics (Hanover and London: Wesleyan Univ. Press 1994). Delany is one of the leading figures in SF, both as an author and as a critic. This book is somewhat bitty but packed with good things. [809.3876 DEL]

Dery, Mark (ed), Flame Wars: the Discourse of Cyberculture (The South Atlantic Quarterly 92:4, Fall 1993). A special edition of this journal, later published separately as a book. Some crucial things here on cyberpunk.

Donawerth, Jane, and Carol A. Kolmerten (eds.), Utopian and Science Fiction by Women: Worlds of Difference (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 1994). Various articles, mostly on older works and writers, but one or two good things. [809.3876 UTO]

Elsaesser, Thomas, Metropolis (London: British Film Institute, 2000) Another very  good publication from the BFI Classics series which discusses the legacy of  Lang’s film up till the present day. [SH YXP4 LAN Els]

Freedman, Philip, ‘Towards a Theory of Paranoia: the Science Fiction of Philip K Dick’, Science-Fiction Studies, 11 (1984), 15-24. This article, and many other in SF Studies are well worth checking out on Dick.

Harraway, Donna J., ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Social-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century’, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (London: Free Association Books 1991), 149-182. A very famous statement of feminist revision, classical theoretical engagement with ‘the woman question’ on the grounds of SF texts. [301.412 HAR]

Harrison, Taylor, Sarah Projansky, Kent A. Ono, and Elyce Rae Helford (eds.), Enterprise Zones: Critical Positions on Star Trek (Oxford: Westview Press, 1996) Published in the mid-90s, the articles in this book naturally focus mostly on The Next Generation and the original series, but it is still the best collection of critical essays on Star Trek to have been published till now. [791.457 STA/E]

Hollinger, Veronica, ‘Utopia, Science, Postmodernism and Feminism’, Science-Fiction Studies, 21 (1994), 232-37. Examines the inter-relations of those four terms in a deft manner.

Huntington, John, Rationalising Genius: Ideological Strategies in the Classic American Science Fiction Short Story (New Brunswick and London: Rutgers Univ. Press 1989). Excellent both on the Golden Age context and on the way Short Fiction operates in an SF idiom. [809.3876 HUN]

James, Edward, Science Fiction in the 20th Century (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1994). Classic introductory study to the field from the late nineteenth-century to the mid 90s. Very thorough, if not especially theorized or argumentative. [809.3876 JAM]

James, Edeward and Farah Medlesohn (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Science    Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) A very useful  collection with many insightful discussions of different historical stages and    sub-genres of the history of science fiction. Highly recommended [SH YUR    Cam] (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) A very useful  collection with many insightful discussions of different historical stages and    sub-genres of the history of science fiction. Highly recommended [SH YUR    Cam]

Jameson, Fredric, ‘World Reduction in Le Guin: The Emergence of “Utopian Narrative”’, Science Fiction Studies 7 (1975), 221-31. Interesting take on Le Guin’s limitations (as Jameson sees them).

Jenkyns, Henry, Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture (Routledge 1992). Absolutely fascinating study of ‘fandom’ and audience participation in TV Culture. Excellent on the phenomenal popularity of Trek. Manages to be theoretically rigorous and insightful at the same time as being impossible to put down. [791.45 JEN]

Jones, Gwyneth, Deconstructing the Starships: Science, Fiction and Reality (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press 1999). Jones is a fine contemporary British SF writer; her occasional pieces of criticism are always thoughtful and worth checking out. [809.3876 JON or from the Course Leader].

Hunter, I.Q., ‘From SF to sci-fi: Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers’ in Writing and Cinema, ed. Jonathan Bignell (London: Longman, 1999). Hunter’s reading of Verhoeven’s adaptation of Robert Heilein’s novel also discusses the politics of the 1990s SF film in general, whereas he also makes the distinction between ‘SF’ and ‘sci-fi’ often made in SF criticism.

King, Geoff and Tanya Krzywinska, Science Fiction Cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace (London: Wallflower, 2000) A fairly good – although a bit sketchy at times – discussion of the history of the SF film. [SH YXPR Kin]

Kuhn, Annette (ed.), Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema (London: Verso 1990). A little dated now – only 10 years ago, alas, but time seems to have rushed by – but some still classic essays that keep circling back to Alien and Blade Runner; some very fertile observations. [791.43 ELI]

Annette Kuhn (ed.), Alien Zone II: The Spaces of Science Fiction Cinema (London and New York: Verso, 1999) A ‘sequel’ after the big success of the first volume. This one is more specialised in focus as its title betrays, but some insightful articles, esp. on Metropolis and Blade Runner. [791.435 ALI]

Lefanu, Sarah, In The Chinks of the World Machine: Feminism and Science Fiction (London: The Women’s Press 1988). Probably the best feminist reading of SF there is, for all that she is overly snooty about LeGuin. [820.3876 LEF]

Luckhurst, Roger, Science Fiction (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005) A very up-to-date, fascinating ‘cultural history’ of science fiction. Luckhurst does not read SF only as a genre in itself, but as a ‘literature of modernity’ that demonstrates changes in the relationship between self and technology.

McCaffery, Larry (ed.), Storming the Reality Studio: A Casebook of Cyberpunk and Postmodernist Fiction (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991) Together with Fiction 2000, this is by now a classic collection of essays on cyberpunk. [815.3876 STO]

McCarthy, Patrick A., Charles Elkins, and Martin H. Greenberg, eds. The Legacy of  Olaf Stapledon: Critical Essays and an Unpublished Manuscript. New York: Greenwood, 1989.

Minden, Michael and Holger Bachmann (eds.), Fritz Lang’s Metropolis: Cinematic Visions of Technology and Fear (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000)

Miller, David, ‘Toward a Structural Metaphysic: Religion in the Novels of Frank Herbert’, in Robert Reilly (ed), The Transcendent Adventure: Studies of Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy (Greenwood Press 1985). Intelligent reading of Herbert’s work, mostly Dune. [809.3876 TRA]

Parrinder, Patrick, (ed.), Science Fiction: A Critical Guide (London: Longman 1979). Dated, but useful in a couple of ways. [809.3876 PAR]

Parrinder, Patrick, Science Fiction: its Criticism and Teaching (London and New York: Methuen 1980). Weighted towards Wells and Golden Age SF, with some stuff on the New Wave. Reads SF in terms of its paradigms – Romance, Fable, Epic and so on. [809.3876 PAR]

Roberts, Adam, Science Fiction, 2nd edition (London Routledge 2005). Introduction and overview of the field. The first edition has some errors in it, so be sure to consult the second edition.

Roberts, Adam, The Palgrave Critical History of Science Fiction (London: Palgrave, 2005) Comprehensive (i.e. long) history of SF from Ancient Greece through the 16th century to the present. Includes books, films, TV and various other forms of cultural production.

Roberts, Robin, A New Species: Gender and Science in Science Fiction (Chicago: University of Illinoi s Press, 1993)

Seed, David (ed.), Anticipations: Essays on Early Science Fiction and its Precursors (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1995) A collection of essays that tries to find precursors of SF in the work of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, even Rudyard Kipling, among others.

Slusser, George and Tom Shippey (eds.), Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (London: University of Georgia Press, 1992)

Brian Stableford, Scientific Romance in Britain 1890-1950 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985) Although not very critical or theoretical, Stableford nevertheless provides a very good historical discussion of the development of this early form of SF – see the chapters on Wells and Stapledon.

Sobchack, Vivian, Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, 2nd edition (1980; New York: Ungar, 1993) By now, a classic book on the science fiction film, and its relationship to ideas and theories of the postmodern (especially the work of Fredric Jameson)

Suvin, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction: On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre (Yale: Yale Univ. Press 1979). Classic theoretical overview of the genre, which Suvin argues is a truly revolutionary literary mode. Suvin is one of the most respected critics writing on SF today, although I have certain problems with him

Turney, Jon, Frankenstein’s Footsteps: Science, Genetics and Popular Culture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998) Not primarily about a science fiction, but this one contains a lot of useful historical information on Frankenstein and Brave New World.

Tulloch, John and Henry Jenkins, Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Doctor Who and Star Trek (Routledge 1995). Star Trek from a mostly American (indeed, more specifically, mostly MIT) perspective, Dr Who surprisingly enough from an Australian one. Several very interesting chapters. [791.45 TUL]

Whalen, Terence, ‘The Future of a Commodity: Notes Towards a Critique of Cyberpunk and the Information Age’, Science Fiction Studies 19 (1992), 75-88. Despite the pretentious title, this has some interesting and theoretically acute things to say about Gibson et al.

Wolfe, Gary, The Known and the Unknown: the Iconography of Science Fiction (Kent State Univ. Press 1979). Classic but a little dull; an academic survey of the field, concentrating on what Wolfe considers key ‘icons’ (‘barrier’, ‘spaceship’, ‘city’, ‘wasteland’, ‘robot’ and ‘monster’). [809.3876 WOL]

Wolmark, Jenny, Aliens and Others: Science Fiction, Feminism and Postmodernism (New York, London: Harvester 1994). Very handy, theory-literate study of feminist perspectives on SF. [809.3876 WOL]


There are a great many weblinks and websites on SF themes, and provided they are used judiciously (remember, you are critics of SF rather than fans) they can be invaluable. Here are a few:

Science Fiction Guide: Authors


An extremely detailed listing of all the websites on all the SF and Fantasy authors you have heard of. This is the place to go in the first instance.

Feminist SF/Fantasy/Utopia Site


The base site for a wide range of connections relating to women writers in the fields of SF and Fantasy. Some of the specific sites are a bit bare, but this is still a valuable jumping-off point.

Torque Control: the BSFA/Vector blog


Locus Online is a key site for keeping up to date with contemporary SF:


The locusonline links portal is the most extensive available:


Also recommended is Strange Horizons.


And everybody should read David Langford’s Ansible, legendary fanzine:




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