Last year, I contributed an essay titled, “Revealing Critical Theory’s Real-Life Potential to Our Students, the Digital Nomads,” to Practicing Science Fiction: Critical Essays on Writing, Reading and Teaching the Genre edited by Karen Hellekson, Craig B. Jacobsen, Patrick B. Sharp, and Lisa Yaszek.
Bill Dynes contributed a nice review of the book and mentioned my essay in his review in Extrapolation 52:2 (Summer 2011). He writes, “This slim volume will be of substantial value to teachers and scholars” (253). Then, in describing the first part, “Teaching with Science Fiction,” Dynes observes that, “Interestingly, these essays foreground teaching with sf rather than teaching the genre itself. Jason Ellis uses Mike Resnick’s novel Ivory: A Legend of Past and Future (1998) to teach the postcolonial critical theories of writers such as Edward Said, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze” (253). This is the power of science fiction that others including John W. Campbell, Jr. realize: it can accomplish many tasks including working through ideas of the real world that are themselves not necessarily science fictional. This is not to say that postcolonialism cannot be read as science fictional, but in the case of my essay, I see the use of science fiction as a tool to teach students about critical theory and its application to their lives in the real world.
I am glad to see Practicing Science Fiction continue to get some attention in the field. Click on the link above to visit the publisher’s website for additional information and for ordering.