Adventures in Science Fiction

Peter.Truax's picture

Thursdays 7-9pm
First class: June 9

The screenwriter Rod Serling once defined science fiction as 'the improbable made possible'. Science fiction is a rich and creative genre whose roots delve far into antiquity, and whose shoots continue on into the present day. Through an exploration of science fiction, you can gain insight not only into what direction the future of humankind is headed, but also learn much about the dreams and ambitions of the past.

My course is a media- and discussion-based project designed to uplift the imagination and explore the worlds manifested by creative minds who took the box and went far, far beyond its limits. More than a survey of science fiction though, my course will explore both the historical, social and scientific foundations of science fiction and will examine the ways in which our human experience is reflected in the alien, surreal and the fantastic.

The course will be arranged thematically, exploring such topics as the concept of the alien, science fiction as utopia or dystopia, and the landscapes and imagery of science fiction. Featured works range from poems to novels - full and excerpted - to film to works of fine art.

Approachable to learners of all types and ages, this course will push but not tear at the critical side of the mind, examining and reflecting on the beauty of this genre.

Facilitator email(s): 
[email protected]
Peter.Truax's picture

Creative Synthesis No. 1

Creative Synthesis Opportunity No. 1

To round out the first unit, "That's No Moon, That's A Space Station!", I would like us all to take the opportunity to do a creative synthesis, which will undergo a peer critique next week, on July 7th.

The opportunity (it's not an assignment, but I would appreciate it if everyone gave it a shot) is to synthesize a landscape or image-scene in a science fictional scenario. Given that the genre is broad, the opportunity is broad. The criteria are brief. First, it can be in any medium you desire - written, drawn, painted, spoken, photographed, danced, telepathed, etc. Second, it can be any length or size you want, though if you're preparing a written work, I would say to aim for between 4-10 pages, for the sake of the reviewers' time. Third, while exercizing creative freedom, you should try as best as possible to communicate your intended work concisely and clearly.

Since this is our first synthesis, I imagine there will be questions about what to do, so feel free to talk amongst yourselves and to me about ideas, or concerns. The synthesis is meant to be fun, and it's meant to be a rough draft only.

The peer critique will take place on July 7th, but I would like everyone to have their works ready for review by no later than the evening of the 5th. Does this seem fair? I imagine this being necessary more for a written work, but for other media, would a review and critique all in one night sound good? In other words, we won't see what you've made until the 7th, and then give feedback in class? Yes, let's plan on that.

So, to reiterate:
Come up with a landscape or image-scene in any media, of whatever reasonable length/size, and be clear in your expression. We'll critique on the 7th.

Following the critique, if you'd like to revisit your work immediately, then we'll look at it again on the 14th, otherwise, whenever you'd like to show it again. Remember, it's all for fun's sake!

Peter.Truax's picture

Recap - Week 1, 6/11/11


To recap our meeting on Thursday, June 11th, Angela H., Vien O., Helen (my sister) and I met at 1709 Selby, to discuss the introduction of Unit 1, focusing on the landscapes and imagery of science fiction. I presented an introductory essay on science fiction criticism by the author Mark Rose, written in 1960. The link is, and the introduction was read last night. The part I found most intriguing about the essay was the Wordsworth quote found on page 9. Also of interest to me was the quote on page 8 describing landscape itself as a hero in science fiction. This quote, I find, rings true in so much of science fiction, whether it is the intricate desert environment of Frank Herbert's Dune or the fascinating Ringworld of Larry Niven's eponymous novel. Science fiction affords the author the opportunity to craft worlds we can only imagine, and whose realization in either film or art are, at best, simulacra and chimera of the real world we live in. Nonetheless, the science fiction landscape is a breathtaking portrait of a setting no less fascinating than anything from other fiction genres. Indeed, the imagery and landscapes of science fiction literally open new worlds to the reader, a process I find absolutely fascinating and laudable.

Last night, we also read excerpts from two works, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick, and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin. Regrettably, I neglected to forward the excerpt from the Dick novel to myself, so I will have to wait until I am at the office on Monday to post that, but attached you will find the LeGuin excerpt. Please note the interplay of prose and poetry, and the imagery that is evoked in the passage. It was discussed last night that LeGuin describes the scene as if she had experienced it herself, perhaps from being a mountain-climber or explorer.


1709 Selby Ave.
1709 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104
United States
Facilitator's experience: 
I am an avid reader and critical thinker, and as a social scientist, the worlds of science fiction help me and others to understand and wonder about the past, the present and the future of our species.
Facilitator phone number(s): 
651 271 3008
Class minimum size: 
Class maximum size: 
Class times: 
Thu, 06/09/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 06/16/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 06/23/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 06/30/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 07/07/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 07/14/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 07/21/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 07/28/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 08/04/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Thu, 08/11/2011 - 19:00 - 21:00
Location Accessibility: 
No, but willing to find an alternate location if necessary.
1709 Selby Ave.
1709 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55104
United States
44° 56' 48.5304" N, 93° 10' 21.0252" W
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