Honors 313 section 4                 Science and Science Fiction              Fall 2018


Approved books for final papers


Andreadis, Athena, ed, To Shape the Dark (2016)  Anthology of short fiction about women scientists.

Anderson, Poul,  Tau Zero. (1970) Relativistic effects allow a starship to travel to end of  universe.

Asimov, Isaac, The Caves of Steel. (1953)  Detective story with robots.

Asimov, Isaac, Foundation. (1951) Secret foundation set up by “psycho-historians” to guide galactic civilization through dark ages.

Baxter, Stephen, Voyage.(1997) Alternate history: U.S. goes to Mars in 1980s.

Baxter, Stephen, Flux (1993). Life in the crust of a neutron star.

Bear, Greg, Darwin’s Radio. (2000) The next step in hominid evolution.

Benford, Greg, The Berlin Project (2017). Alternate history of WWII where the bomb gets dropped on Nazi Germany.

Brin, David, Startide Rising. (1983) A starship crewed by humans, superchimps, and intelligent dolphins crash-lands on ocean world.

Budrys, Algis, Rogue Moon. (1960) A deadly maze is found on the Moon.

Clarke, Arthur C., Rendezvous with Rama. (1973) Astronauts investigate huge, apparently abandoned spaceship that enters the solar system.

Clement, Hal, Mission of Gravity.  (1954) Aliens living on planet with bone-crushing gravity.

Cramer, John, Einstein’s Bridge. (1997) The Supercolliding Supercollider allows aliens from another dimension to come and destroy all life, followed by political satire.

Crichton, Michael, The Andromeda Strain (1969) Space plague!

Crichton, Michael, Jurassic Park (1990) Resurrected dinosaurs!

Delaney, Samuel R, Babel-17. (1966)  Beautiful linguist deciphers inscrutable enemy.

Dick, Philip K., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) Existential angst among humans and androids following nuclear war. Nothing like the movie (“Bladerunner”).

Gibson, William, Neuromancer. (1984) The original “cyberpunk” novel: a computer attains consciousness, manipulates cyber criminal to gain freedom.  

Gibson, William and Sterling, Bruce, The Difference Engine. (1990) Mechanical computers in alternate-history Victorian London.

Griffths, Nicola, Ammonite (1992). An anthropologist investigates a world where a plague killed off all the men.

Halderman, Joe, The Forever War. (1975)  Relativistic effects stretch out a war against “bugs” to centuries. A response to Starship Troopers by a Vietnam Vet.

Heinlein, Robert, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. (1966) Revolution in lunar colonies.

Heinlein, Robert,  Starship Troopers. (1951) Space infantry fight nasty alien bugs. Argues a military junta is the best form of government.

Jones, D. F. Colossus  (1966). Missile-wielding supercomputer takes over the world.

Knight, Damon, A for Anything. Machines that can duplicate anything cause chaos in society.

Liu, Cixin, The Dark Forest (2015). As humanity spreads to the stars in the face of an invasion, they learn the awful answer to Fermi's paradox. Sequel to The Three-body Problem.

L'Engle, Madeleine, A Wrinkle in Time (1962). Children search for lost scientist father. (The recent movie, while beautifully shot, did not emphasize science themes.)

LeGuin, Ursula K, The Left Hand of Darkness. (1969) Hermaphrodites and political tension on ice world.

McHugh, Maureen F., China Mountain Zhang. (1992) Gay man in near-future America economically dominated by China.

Mieville, China, Perdido Street Station. (2000) Hallucinatory world where science, alchemy, and magic blur together.

Miller, Walter M, A Canticle for Liebowitz. (1959) After nuclear war, monks preserve scientific knowledge.

Niven, Larry, Ringworld (1970).  A motley crew of humans and aliens travel to an artificial world as big as a star system.

Niven, Larry, and  Pournell, Jerry, The Mote in God’s Eye. (1975) Humans meet strange aliens species who hide a terrible secret.

Pohl, Frederik, Gateway. (1977) Aliens hide in black holes from other, scarier aliens.

Pohl, Frederik, Man Plus. (1976) Cyborg created to explore Mars.

Robinson, Kim Stanley, Icehenge. (1985) Archaeologist investigates mysterious monument on Pluto, struggles against scientific inertia.

Robinson, Kim Stanley, Red Mars (1993). The colonization of Mars as a microscope of history.

Schroder, Karl, Permanance. (2003) Stratified human society discovers intelligence is not a stable long-term evolutionary strategy.

Slonczewski, Joan, A Door into Ocean (1986). A waterworld of parthenogenic pacifists is invaded.

Stephenson, Neal, Snow Crash. (1992) Delivery boy for Mafia-owned pizza chain is samurai in virtual reality. And that’s just the beginning.

Stephenson, Neal, The Diamond Age. (1995) Society with nanotechnology recreate Victorian era.

Varley, John, The Ophiuchi Hotline. (1977) Humans expelled from Earth by alien invaders, receive message from other aliens.

Vinge, Vernor (former SDSU computer science professor), A Fire Upon the Deep. (1991) Unspeakable menace threatens the galaxy; the only defense crashes on planet populated by intelligent group-mind dog creatures.

Vonnegut, Kurt, Cat’s Cradle. (1963) Scientist creates “ice-nine” that could freeze Earth.

Willis, Connie, The Doomsday Book. (1993) Time travel to Middle Ages, Black Death.  

Yoshinga, Fumi, Ooku: the Inner Chamber (2005-present). Manga about an alternate feudal Japan where a plague kills three-quarters of the men and is now ruled by women.

Zamyatin, Yevgeny, We. (1924) Russian dystopia: numbers replace names, sexual partners assigned by the government, imagination outlawed.


You may pitch to me (in an e-mail, so I have a record) of something not on this list, but please be specific and outline what you see as the science themes.


Approved film and television for short papers (option 3)



Star Trek, any episode from any series, or any movie

Star Wars, any movie

Stargate 1994 movie or any series

Firefly any episode or the movie Serenity (2005)

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- radio, TV, or movie series (please specify)


TV series: Note when citing from a series, please cite the year and the episode name or number, e.g.., The Big Bang Theory season 2, "The Frugal Quark Episode"

Battlestar Galactica (2004-8 series)

The Venture Brothers

The Big Bang Theory

Red Dwarf

Stranger Things

Westworld (HBO series)

(Also from franchises: Star Trek, Stargate, Firefly--see above)



Metropolis (1927)

Things to Come  (1936)

Twenty Thousand Leagues Beneath the Sea (1954)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 version)

Forbidden Planet (1956)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Andromeda Strain (1971 movie or 2008 miniseries)

Silent Running (1972)

Westworld (1973 movie)

Blade Runner (1982)

Jurassic Park (1993)

Gattaca  (1997)

Primer (2004)

District 9 (2009)

Sleep Dealer (2008)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Elysium (2013)

Ex Machina (2014)

Interstellar (2014)

April and the Extraordinary World (2015)

Arrival (2016)


You may pitch to me (in an e-mail, so I have a record) of something not on this list, but please be specific and outline what you see as the science themes.


Resources for science fiction short stories online (option 2)


These are just suggestions. You may use other stories, just be sure to give me a clear print or online reference that I can track down.


You can find a lot of stories here: (choose science fiction, not fantasy)


For example, Time travel stories



Clarkesworld Online magazine:




Galaxy's Edge online Magazine: http://www.galaxysedge.com/index.htm


Also here (but not all of these are science fiction)



Specific stories to consider:

The Cold Equations


The Calorie Man


Kim Stanley Robinson, The Lucky Strike


A Logic Named Joe


They’re Made of Meat


Heinlein, Life-Line


Vonnegut, Harrison Bergergon


Flynn, The Clapping Hands of God


Baxter, Moon Six


Chiang, The Lifecycle of Software Objects


Chiang, What’s Expected of Us