Writing Science - Fiction And Speculative Fiction

Course Details

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Science fiction and Speculative (Counterfactual) fiction are two overlapping genres, which ask us to enter into ‘other worlds, alternate worlds and societies’. Ideas about the future; economic and social, developing science and technology, and the way humans organize themselves and behave, can be explored in imaginative and daring ways.
The course will look at the historical context, from Frankenstein, to authors such as H.G.Wells, Arthur.C.Clarke and Margaret Atwood. There will be a focus on social, feminist Sci-Fi, with a look at Margaret Atwood’s dystopian ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ 1985, and Ursula La Guin’s 1969 novel ‘Left Hand of Darkness’. Speculative, alternate history fiction will be looked at, with authors Philip K. Dick ‘The Man in the High Castle,’ and Philip Roth’s ‘The Plot against America’ 2004 studied, as well as English-based fantasy, such as Susanna Clarke’s ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel’, 2004.
This online learning course enables you to study from home and participate in an online community of other students learning about this topic. The module is delivered through Blackboard, our online learning environment. This module can be studied as a stand-alone course, but it is also an optional module for the Certificate of Higher Education in Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University.

Learning Outcomes
1. ​Identify key authors who are writing within the genre (and subgenres) of science and speculative fiction, assessed in the critical portfolio.
2. Identify and apply the different techniques used in this type of fiction in your final piece of writing.
3. ​Critically evaluate your own creative process and position your final written piece within the genre, assessed in the portfolio.

​1. Written piece (1500 words) 70% of the overall mark
Produce a Sci-fi or Speculative fiction short story or extract from a longer piece

2. Written piece (500 words) 30% of the overall mark
A critical portfolio which records and reflects on the process of generating the fictional piece and how the piece is positioned within the genres and subgenres of Science Fiction/Fantasy and/or Speculative Fiction. 

Atwood, Margaret (2017) The Handmaid’s Tale, Vintage Classics (First pub 1985)

Clark, Susanna (2015) Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, Bloomsbury

Dick, Philip K(2017) The Man in the High Castle,Penguin Classics (First pub 1962)

Guin, Ursula La (2017) Left Hand of Darkness, SF Masterworks, Gollanz (first pub 1969)

Roth, Philip (2005) The Plot against America, Vintage

Vint, Sheryl (2014) Science Fiction: A Guide for the Perplexed, Bloomsbury Academic

Further Reading:

Atwood, Margaret (2012) In other worlds: SF and the human Imagination, Virago

Jones, Diane Wynne(2013) The Chrestomanci Series, Harper Collins Children’s, Kindle Edition

Orwell, George (2004) 1984, Penguin Classic (First pub 1949)

Shelley, Mary J (2003) Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus, Penguin Classics (First pub 1818)


This module is at CQFW Level 4