In today’s class, I covered large swaths of background material on Ray Bradbury, Robert A. Heinlein, and Tom Godwin. Then, I gave the class a rough sketch of the development of SF film through the SF-film boom of the 1950s as preparation for tomorrow’s viewing of Forbidden Planet. After lecture, we discussed the readings from Monday and Tuesday: Asimov’s “Reason,” Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,” Heinlein’s “All You Zombies–,” and Godwin’s “The Cold Equations.”
I was glad to hear that Godwin’s story connected emotionally with some students despite it being “hard SF.” There were also a number of students who preferred “All You Zombies–” and were already familiar with time travel narratives, which supported my lecture argument about Heinlein’s reliance on reader’s experience with the SF mega-text. One student on Bradbury’s story said, “This was the first story that made me feel sorry for a house.” After class, I had a great conversation with two students about Cold War anxieties and the shifting experiences of SF in film and television via new media.
Today, my students bravely wielded their pens and Blue Books to endure their first exam in our Science Fiction class. The exam covered Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein through the early SF film serials. The exam had twenty short and long answer questions. A few students completed the exam in the allotted 60 minutes, but I gave the rest of the class an additional 15 minutes to complete the test. I made it very clear that I could not give credit to illegible responses, so I think that the writing component slowed some students down. I will take this into consideration as I plan the second exam while making my lecture notes for the upcoming two weeks of class.
After the exam, I delivered the first part of my lecture on Golden Age SF. I covered a rough sketch of the Golden Age, John W. Campbell, Jr., and Isaac Asimov. In tomorrow’s class, I will lecture on Robert A. Heinlein, Tom Godwin, Ray Bradbury, and the maturation of SF film. We will discuss the readings for Monday and Tuesday, too: Asimov’s “Reason,” Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains,” Heinlein’s “All You Zombies–,” and Godwin’s “The Cold Equations.”