English 192 Science Fiction

English 192 Science Fiction
Summer (A) 2006

Catalog No. 5504
Meets: MTWR 3:30 – 4:35.
Location: ARTS 1241

Instructor: Kim Knight (kimberly_knight@umail.ucsb.edu)
Office Hours: M, T 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. and by appointment in Transcriptions Lab (SH 2509)

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In the age of networked culture and spectacular media, the line between science fiction and “real life” becomes increasingly difficult to define. In this version of English 192 we will explore the development of cyberpunk, a genre of science fiction that typically features a hacker-figure in the context of cyberspace and is typically set against larger institutions. Born of the 1980’s, this particular strand of science fiction has anticipated the future in uncanny ways. Our goal will be to examine the literature and film of this genre to determine whether, in fact, “the future is now.”

We will begin with Frankenstein, the earliest example of science fiction and then trace the development of the genre through cyberpunk-precursors such as Philip K. Dick and James Tiptree Jr. We will then work extensively with cyberpunk texts and film, including its many subgenres, to address questions of spirituality, the un/human, and the role of the individual in society. Finally, we will end the course with a look at “real life” iterations of cyberpunk (hypertext literature, hacker art, etc) in order to assess the relevance of this genre to contemporary information culture.

Prerequisite: Writing 2 or 50 or 109; English 10; or upper-division standing.
Satisfies a GE Area G and a Writing Requirement.
The texts for the class are listed below, in the order that we will be reading them:

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. (Norton Critical Edition)
Cadigan, Pat, ed. The Ultimate Cyberpunk.
Gibson, William. Neuromancer.
Cadigan, Pat. Mindplayers.
Stephenson, Neal. The Diamond Age.
Jackson, Shelley. Patchwork Girl. CD-Rom.

Unfortunately, the two Cadigan texts are out of print. You can find copies through Alibris, Amazon or Powells. Alternatively, the UCSB bookstore is working to procure the rights to reprint them for our class.

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