Science Fiction, ENG 2420, E573

W 6:00PM-8:30PM, N521

Professor Ellis | Office/Hours: N520, W 5:00PM-6:00PM |

Course Description

We will explore the emergence of Science Fiction (SF) and examine its preeminence as interdisciplinary literary and artistic forms of pressing cultural importance. To accomplish this, we will read and watch significant examples of SF from its long history beginning with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and concluding with cyberpunk. Students will have opportunities to demonstrate their learning through note taking, weekly writing assignments, a research essay, and an essay-format final exam. Please note: this is a writing intensive course with a demanding reading schedule. The catalog course description, objectives, and prerequisites are attached.

Required Texts

All readings available online. Students may also access many of the readings through libraries or purchased books. See links to readings on the tentative schedule.

Required Resources

Computer access, word processing software, and a means of saving your work securely.

Access to your City Tech email.

Access and account at


  • Weekly Summaries of Readings and Viewings, 20%
    Each week, write at least 250-words summarizing assigned reading and viewing from the previous week. Your summaries should include titles, authors/directors, significant characters, plot, and your reaction/thoughts to the stories.
  • Class Notes, Midterm, 20%
    Students are expected to take notes during class and on their own based on assigned readings and their own class-related research. In lieu of a midterm exam, students will submit their notes in the class up to that point. You may hand in your notebook or a copy of it (photocopies, scanned PDF, print out, etc.). If you hand in your original, it will be returned in the following class.
  • Class Notes, End of Semester, 20%
    Students are expected to take notes during class and on their own based on assigned readings and their own class-related research. In lieu of a midterm exam, students will submit their notes in the class up to that point. You may hand in your notebook or a copy of it (photocopies, scanned PDF, print out, etc.). If you hand in your original, it will be returned in the following class.
  • Research Essay, 20%
    Due at the end of the semester, students will apply what they have learned about Science Fiction in a written analysis of a single work or series of Science Fiction of their choice. Books, short stories, television series, comic books, music, theater, or other media are equally acceptable for the selected Science Fiction work to examine. However, the choice needs to be focused in consultation with the professor.
  • Final Exam, 20%
    In the last class, students will answer questions in short essay, full sentence format about the lecture and readings of the class.

Attendance and Lateness Policy

The expectation for successful and respectful college students is to arrive on time and attend all classes. Following City Tech’s policy, attendance is recorded and reported for each class meeting. Attendance and class participation are essential and excessive absences may affect the final grade. Students who simply stop attending will receive a grade of “WU” (unofficial withdrawal – attended at least once).

Required Format for Papers

While there will be exceptions that we will discuss in class, all writing submitted online or on printed paper should follow MLA professional style. In particular, your writing should always include a “name block,” a title, and your writing. If you quote or cite writing by others, it should be properly cited and included as an entry on a concluding “Works Cited” list. Search Google for “Purdue OWL MLA” for guidelines and sample papers.

Policy for Late Papers

Assignments submitted late or exams taken late will incur a 10-point reduction for each day that they are late. However, no assignments will be accepted after the last day of class. If a student knows that work cannot be completed on time, he or she should contact me or visit my office hours to discuss.

Accessibility Statement: City Tech is committed to supporting the educational goals of enrolled students with disabilities in the areas of enrollment, academic advisement, tutoring, assistive technologies and testing accommodations. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. If you have questions about your eligibility or would like to seek accommodation services or academic adjustments, please contact the Center for Student Accessibility at 300 Jay Street room L-237, 718 260 5143 or

College Policy on Academic Integrity: “Students who work with information, ideas, and texts owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in CUNY and at New York City College of Technology, and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion. The complete text of the College policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the catalog.”

Tentative Class Schedule

WeekDayDateActivities and Due Dates
1WJan 29Introduce course. Discuss: What is Science Fiction? Lecture: Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein. View it online:
2WFeb 5Frankenstein, Introduction, Preface, and Volume I (Opening Letters and Chapters 1-8) and Frankenstein Volume II (Chapters 9-17)
3WFeb 12No Classes
4WFeb 19Frankenstein Volume III (Chapters 18-24)
5WFeb 26H.G. Wells, The Time Machine (abridged),   E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops,”  
6WMar 4Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars (Chapters I, II, III, IV, X, XI, XIX, XXIV-end),   C. L. Moore, “Shambleau”    
7WMar 11Class Notes, Midterm due—hand in your notes so far in the class as originals or copy (hard copy or digital).

In-Class Video: Flash Gordon
8WMar 18No class due to the instructional recess. Schedule resumes next week.  
9WMar 25Isaac Asimov, “Reason”   Ray Bradbury, “The Fireman”  
10WApr 1Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, see this message from Chancellor Matos Rodriguez for additional details.
12TApr 7Conversion Day

Robert Heinlein, “—All You Zombies”  

Tom Godwin, “The Cold Equations”  

No class on Wednesday, April 8, for shortened spring recess, see this message from Chancellor Matos Rodriquez for additional details.
13WApr 15Video: Forbidden Planet,

Lecture on Conducting Research and Discussing the Research Essay
14WApr 22Harlan Ellison, “Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman!”,+Harlan+–+Repent,+Harlequin+Said+the+Ticktockman.pdf   Philip K. Dick, “The Electric Ant”
14WApr 29Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah”    

James Tiptree, Jr., “The Women Men Don’t See”     In-class video:

Star Trek, “The City on the Edge of Forever,” (Season 1, Episode 28)
15WMay 6Ursula K. LeGuin, “Nine Lives”   Octavia Butler, “Speech Sounds”  
16WMay 13William Gibson, “Burning Chrome,”  

Video: The X-Files: “Kill Switch,” (Season 5, Episode 11)  
17WMay 20Research Essay due before class as a post on our OpenLab site.   Class Notes, End of Semester due as a scanned PDF emailed to Prof. Ellis.   Final Exam due as a Word docx file emailed to Prof. Ellis.