ENGL 387: Writing Speculative Fiction (Rev. C3/C4) Report a Broken Link

This course aims to help aspiring SF writers take important steps forward in understanding and mastering the genre and to write at least one complete SF short story.


Delany, S. R. About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews. Wesleyan University Press, 2006.
Wilhelm, K. Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers' Workshop. Small Beer Press, 2005.

Unit 1: What Is Speculative Fiction?

Runté, Robert. “Why I Read American SF.” Prairie Fire, vol. 15, no. 2, 1994, pp. 199–201.
Le Guin, Ursula K. “Introduction.” The Norton Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Attebery, W. W. Norton & Company, 1993, pp. 15–42.
Delany, Samuel R. “About 5,750 Words.” The Jew-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction, Wesleyan University Press, 2009, pp. 1–15.
Clute, John. “Fantasy.” Encyclopedia of Fantasy, edited by John Clute and John Grant, St. Martin’s press, 1997, pp. 337–339.
McIntyre, Vonda N. “The Straining Your Eyes Through the Viewscreen Blues.” Nebula Winners Fifteen, edited by Frank Herbert, Harper and Row, 1981, pp. 75–89.
For Assignment 1
Atwood, Margaret. “Homelanding.” Good Bones, Coach House Press, 1992, pp. 121–128.
Atwood, Margaret. “Death by Landscape.” Wilderness Tips, Doubleday, 1990, pp. 99–118.

Unit 2: Preparing to Excel at Speculation

Strange Horizons. “Stories We've Seen too Often.” Strange Horizons website, 10 Mar. 2012.
Strange Horizons. “Horror Stories We've Seen too Often.” Strange Horizons website, 30 Mar. 2012.
McIntyre, Vonda. “Pitfalls of Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy: General Useful Information, & Other Opinionated Comments.” Vonda McIntyre's website, 4 Apr. 2019.
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. “Turkey City Lexicon—A Primer for SF Workshops,” introduced and edited by Lewis Shiner and Bruce Sterling, 2nd ed. Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website, 18 June 2009.

Unit 3: Elements of Story and Special Problems of Characters

Robinson, Kim Stanley. “The Lucky Strike.” Strange Horizons, 22 Sep. 2014.
Willis, Connie. “Schwarzschild Radius.” Impossible Things, Bantam Spectra, 1993, pp. 90–112.
Gunn, Eileen. “Stable Strategies for Middle Management.” Sisters of the Revolution: A feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, P. M. Press, 2015, pp. 249–260.
Knight, Damon. “The Handler.” The Best of Damon Knight, Taplinger Publishing Company, 1976, pp. 259–262.
Swanick, Michael. “A Midwinter’s Tale.” The Best of Michael Swanwick, Subterranean Press, 2008.
Kress, Nancy. “Out of All Them Bright Stars.” The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction, edited by Arthur B. Evans, Wesleyan University Press, 2010, pp. 580–586.

Unit 4: Worlds and Wonders

Shaw, Bob. "Light of Other Days." Analog Science Fiction and Fact, vol. 77, no. 6, Aug. 1966.
Dorsey, Candas Jane. “Farewell to the Literature of Ideas.” The New York Review of Science Fiction, vol. 15, no. 180, 2003, pp. 8–12.
Waldrop, Howard. “. . . the World, as We Know’t.” Howard Who? Small Beer Press, 2006, pp. 75–95.
Gibson, William. “The Gernsback Continuum.” Burning Chrome, Harper Voyager, 2014, pp. 24–36.
Gotlieb, Phyllis. “Tauf Aleph.” Son of the Morning and Other Stories, Ace Science Fiction Books, 1983, pp. 1–21.
Resnick, Michael. “Kirinyaga.” Kirinyaga, Del Rey, 1998, pp. 11–32.
Wilhelm, Kate. “And the Angels Sing.” And the Angels Sing, St. Martin’s Press, 1992, pp. 236–260.
Smith, Cordwainer. “Alpha Ralpha Boulevard.” The Best of Cordwainer Smith, Ballantine Books, 1975, pp. 283–314.
Sterling, Bruce. “We See Things Differently.” Globalhead, Mark V. Ziesing, 1992, pp. 224–248.
Imaginative Fiction Writers Association. “Crit Guidelines: The Critique, Our Reason for Being.” Imaginative Fiction Writers Association, 2008, pp. 1–6.
Runté, Robert. "Science Fiction and Fantasy." Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada, edited by William H. New, University of Toronto Press, 2002, pp. 1016–1021.

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Common Editing and Proofreading Marks  

Adapted from: Bagin, Carolyn Boccella, and Jo Van Doren. “How to Avoid Costly Proofreading Errors.” Technical Writing: Principles, Strategies, and Readings, edited by Diana C. Reep, Allyn and Bacon, 1991, pp. 460–462.

Unit 5: Themes and Tropes of Speculative Fiction

No new online readings

Unit 6: Critique

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Unit 7: Final Draft

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