Skip to toolbar
Professor: Dr. Harold M. Butner

What impact does changing the sky have on a society? What would happen to your world if energy was hard to produce, or if it was inexhaustible? What would life be like if space travel was inexpensive? These changes often are the underlying backdrop for stories in science fiction. In this class, we will look for key “background” changes in the world of selected stories, and identify what constraints these physical changes placed on the story.

Each section of the course will draw on multiple examples of how a specific topic in science was explored by various authors, such gravity, or the interaction of man and machine, or genetic engineering, or even changing the sky, in the context of particular stories. To facilitate covering a range of examples, readings will focus on short stories or excerpts from longer novels, rather than reading every examplein full. While our focus will be on science fiction, stories from movies, anime, and manga will also be included. Along the way, we will research what current science says, and what would have to change to produce the new world view for that story. Ideally, you should have had an introduction to the scientific method via an earlier Cluster 3 course, rather a specific Cluster 3 course topic such as Physics. This course will satisfy the Cluster 1 critical thinking GenEd requirement.

You will have an opportunity to select some dramatic change in an area of science that interests you. After researching the science during the semester, at the end of the course, you will present to the class how you think your life would be impacted by the proposed change compared to the way things are now.

Fall 2018, Fall 2019