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14 September 2015 @ 05:52 am
A moderate argument for keeping sf in the gutter  
11 science fiction books that are regularly taught in college classes. No Le Guin, Asimov, Heinlein, or Clarke. No Fahrenheit 451 (maybe that's high school). The same mediocre PKD book Hollywood started with. A Princess of Mars*interrobang* Srsly?

Thanx to File 770
bart_calendarbart_calendar on September 14th, 2015 12:52 pm (UTC)
What's wrong with Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
El Coyote Gordo: rocket coyotesupergee on September 14th, 2015 12:59 pm (UTC)
Rehash of his earlier better stuff (Ubik, Time out of Joint) plus his obsession with human vs android, which may just mean that I'm on the opposite side.
bart_calendarbart_calendar on September 14th, 2015 01:04 pm (UTC)
The thing is the challenge with college freshman is to get them to actually read the book and to find ways to confirm they read the book.

Sheep is good because it's s hort enough where the majority will read it. And because the movie differs so much from the book you'll know right away if the kids just watched the film.

Beyond that it deals with global warming, which is guaranteed to generate interesting discussions. And it handles the nature of reglion and how environmental pressures play on religion. And it could generate a discussion on colonialism.
El Coyote Gordo: coy1supergee on September 14th, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
You're right: It is good Required Reading.
bart_calendarbart_calendar on September 14th, 2015 01:19 pm (UTC)
I remember my very brief teaching stint and how my goal seemed to be "assign something that won't make them just buy cliff notes."
bart_calendarbart_calendar on September 14th, 2015 01:01 pm (UTC)
And yeah F451 is a high school book.

The rest make sense to me. They are ones that would draw a freshman college student in.

Assigning Heinlein would be a huge pain the ass because you'd end up grading a ton of papers saying he was an asshole and t hat would get super boring super quickly.

The problem with Asimov is that the book that would generate interesting student response is the Foundation series, but that's so many books.

Watchmen is going to generate a bunch of papers calling Moore a dickweed, but also get some interesting response as well.

I think a Wrinkle In Time is assigned in AP English, which is why you don't get Le Guinn.

I don't know enough about Clarke to comment on why he's not taught so much.
Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013pameladean on September 14th, 2015 07:57 pm (UTC)
Brain glitch there? A Wrinkle in Time is by Madeleine L'Engle. (Those Le names are tricky.)

bart_calendarbart_calendar on September 14th, 2015 10:46 pm (UTC)
Total brain fart.

Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on September 14th, 2015 01:48 pm (UTC)
I miss any indication that these are the most-often taught SF books, or how the information was obtained to compile the list. So I'm not so alarmed, yet. Do they really make their students read Dhalgren?
sturgeonslawyer: Defaultsturgeonslawyer on September 14th, 2015 02:18 pm (UTC)
Golly, I hope so!
Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013pameladean on September 14th, 2015 08:00 pm (UTC)
That actually looks like a good list to me, although I have always felt that putting both 1984 and Brave New World on the same list is hard on the reader. Surely one mid-20-th-century British dystopia is enough to go on with. It looks like that list might be the result of teachers doing historical surveys dealing with certain repeated themes.

El Coyote Gordo: moon landingsupergee on September 14th, 2015 08:25 pm (UTC)
They make a good compare-and-contrast.
Carbonelcarbonel on September 14th, 2015 09:06 pm (UTC)
Having two mid-20th-century British dystopias to read around the same time made for some interesting compare-and-contrast discussions.

I remember one about which one we'd prefer to live in. Both involved thought control, but BNW cared a lot more about the happiness of its citizens.
Fighting Crime with a Giant Dandelion Since 2013pameladean on September 14th, 2015 09:19 pm (UTC)
I can see that this is all pedagogically useful, but the last time I reread those books it was the similar background assumptions that made me want to throw them across the room. At least, if the list was actually any real class's reading, there are some good antidotes in it.