Curriculum: Richard Chwedyk’s Sci-Fi Writing Syllabus 2018

This list is neither qualitative nor comprehensive. The new stories come from the latest Neil Clarke Year’s Best anthology. The rest help (I hope) to illustrate various techniques and approaches to writing sf, and are also geared up to various exercises we’ll be doing in relation to them. Next term’s selection will probably look significantly different.

Week 1 – September 5, 2018
In-class readings (opening of Snow Crash, “They’re Made Out of Meat,” “Day Million”)
Readings for next week: Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”
James Patrick Kelly, “Think Like a Dinosaur”

Week 2 – September 12, 2018
In-class reading: “How to Become a Mars Overlord” by Catherynne M. Valente
Readings for next week: Cordwainer Smith, “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard”
Paolo Bacigalupi, “Pump Six”

Week 3 – September 19, 2018
In-class reading: “Reason” by Isaac Asimov
Readings for next week: Clifford D. Simak, “Desertion”.
Stanley G. Weinbaum, “A Martian Odyssey”

Week 4 – September 26, 2018
In-class reading: “Air Raid” by John Varley
Readings for next week: William Tenn , “The Liberation of Earth”
Vandana Singh, “Shikasta”

Week 5 – October 3, 2018
In-class reading: “Out of All Them Bright Stars” and “Exegesis” by Nancy Kress
Readings for next week: Philip K. Dick, “Frozen Journey” (aka “I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon”)
Nancy Kress, “Every Hour of Light and Dark”

Week 6 – October 10, 2018
In-class reading: “Balanced Ecology” by James H. Schmitz
Readings for next week: Robert Sheckley, “Specialist”
Rachael K. Jones and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali, “Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship”

Week 7 – October 17, 2018
In-class reading: “Plotters and Shooters” by Kage Baker
Readings for next week: Pat Cadigan, “Pretty Boy Crossover”
Matthew Kressel, “The Last Novelist (or A Dead Lizard in the Yard)”

Week 8 – October 24, 2018
In-class reading: “Kyrie” by Poul Anderson
Readings for next week: Theodore Sturgeon,“Thunder and Roses”
Indrapramit Das, “The Worldless”

Week 9 – October 31, 2018
Readings for next week: R. A. Lafferty,“Nine Hundred Grandmothers”
Sarah Pinsker, “Wind Will Rove”

Week 10 – November 7, 2018
In-class reading: “The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn” by Vonda N. McIntyre
Readings for next week: Samuel R. Delany,“Aye, and Gomorrah”
Karin Lowachee, “Meridian”

Week 11 – November 14, 2018
In-class reading:. “Kirinyaga” by Mike Resnick
Readings for next week: James Tiptree, Jr., “The Women Men Don’t See”
Greg Egan, “Uncanny Valley”

Week 12 – November 21, 2018
Readings for next week: Greg Bear, “Blood Music”
Kathleen Ann Goonan, “The Tale of the Alcubierre Horse”

Week 13 – November 28, 2018
In-class reading: “Infinities” by Vandana Singh
Readings for next week: “Bloodchild” – Octavia E. Butler
Tobias S. Buckell, “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance”

Week 14 – December 5, 2018
Readings for next week: Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” by Ted Chiang
Suzanne Palmer, “The Secret Life of Bots”

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McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Inner Meet Me, rediscovered

Screen Shot 2018-07-24 at 1.02.13 AMI was suddenly reminded of a song article I wrote, from 2003! It was about “Inner Meet Me” by The Beta Band, published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

See the article here!

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/inner-meet-me-by-the-beta-band

I really love this periodical, and am glad to see how it keeps a-runnin’.

Review: The Forever War

The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman

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It’s hard to read, and that’s because the experience is horribly real. I lightened it up by reading other things in between, but I kept returning to witness this account. I could see soldier stories through science fiction metaphors (such as time dilation, the world having changed much more than the time spent on campaign). There’s a soul-gripping terror and malaise in these pages – not just in the violence, but as seen through societal humanity. Deeply affecting, eloquent messages delivered with the twang of sci-fi experimentation.

(review hosted on Amazon & Goodreads)

Review: Acorna’s Quest

Acorna’s Quest
by Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball

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(book jacket drawn by ele)

Fantastic entertainment carrying a balance of humor and deep worldcrafting. Unicorn people will understand… with their minds. Reflects the struggles of the newly adult finding their own kind, ethical dilemmas in science & politics, and different people complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

 

(review hosted on GoodReads & Amazon)

Review: Forest of Memory

Forest of Memory, a novella by Mary Robinette Kowal

If you emerge from the forest, will you be quite the same?

Clearly delineated internal debate and suspenseful action that gives you just a little bit at a time, amidst a knowledgeably vivid and lush sensory landscape. Kowal’s setting removal provides tangentially humorous perspectives on habits and mindsets of today’s world. A dramatic meeting between modern techie life and brutal nature.

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(review also posted on Goodreads & Amazon)

Poem: The Process

THE PROCESS

1

I noticed the trail of a snake in the
sand.
I followed it, and it led to water.

Sometimes it feels as if I’m the
only one.
Other times, I feel others dance
when I move, and my voice contains
the power of many others like me.

2

Now I know for sure I’m not alone –
breathless, like just the sight of you
means I’m rescued,
like I’m not the only one left who
came to this world.
If there are two of us to meet,
then I am real, and there are more.

3

Then comes a telling of ourselves:
an occasion for laughter,
the excitement of being together,
the knowledge of all we must do
lightened
just by a glimpse of someone
else
who sees the same thing.

4

Like the dawn through the rain,
at the very moment of the tide’s turn –
a light that reveals the exact same
mountainside with renewed clarity,
as though it sprang forth, somehow,
from my very self standing there,
heart bursting, and wishing.

5

There’s a way home that can be
found,
one foot upon the prow of our vessel.
The illusions are not as deep or
thick as they seem –
see right through the branches
to the meadow beyond,
through the hanging water to the
sunlit land,
and go that way.

6

Now that we are gathered, it’s time:
to swing the lights in procession
to guide others to us, feeling alone
and unknown as we once were – to
raise our voices, so that their own
can resound with the power of
many
others like them.

7

Our own separate paths are still our
own to walk,
those that brought us together in
one place,
those to continue, that take us away
from each other –
but never alone again, thenceforth
having
been together, though through our own
shadowed valleys we carry the
newly shared flame.

8

All we learn, all we bring, from all of us,
is all we have to give. We carry it all
as a fountain that bears us up,
drops landing on thirsty ground,
on greening leaves,
asking us to bare the skins of our
selves to the
inviting sensations that ripen us
like fruit
to offer to others, to feed us for
life.

9

There are flowers in bloom
surrounding me –
in eyes and voices, in the air and
under
my fingers. Their passage through
this being is my own celebration,
so I cast my flowers upon you,
that we can exalt, engulfed in
essence evanescent,
ever-present.

CC-BY 2017 e.l.elasigue

Eva's Poem 2

[broadside artwork by Taylor Seamount, written in the poet’s hand]

This poem is a result of The Octarine Eyes, a pre-release co-creative project for the Subaqueous album, Shatter Spell, released 11/8/2017. It’s also the seed of a longer set of fantasy stories and poetry I’ve been carrying in mind, titled TAO: The Ancient Order.

“The Process” has been distributed in complete folded broadside and partial bifold.

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Creative Commons License
The Process by e.l.elasigue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://evalisaelasigue.wordpress.com/2017/11/15/poem-the-process/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://primalspiral.wordpress.com/.

Review: Norse Mythology

A distinct flavor of culture understood through time and across languages, cast in transcendent form into a re-homed delivery. The tales are what they are; concepts and scenes are couched in a familiar sensibility that looks you straight in the eye with its reactions. This book has a fine savor, meaning that it delivers multiple qualities to appreciate all at once, and tuned in varying amounts. Artistically, it seems made of swooping penstrokes and careful woodcuts.

(The above review also posted on Amazon & Goodreads)

Additional note: A1…!

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