stories needed

I could use some assistance from the internets in putting the finishing touches on a certain project. I’m planning to pitch a course proposal on writing speculative fiction (encompassing sf, fantasy, and supernatural horror), but I need readings! Most particularly I need suggestions of short fiction, but I’d also be interested in how-to texts that might be relevant to these topics.

Week 1- Introduction to genre
Week 2- Language
Week 3- Outlining, critique, revision
[For these three weeks, I’d like one basic, accessible story from each of the genres I’m covering, just to get them warmed up.]

Week 4- Dialogue
Week 5- Point of view
Week 6- Description
Week 7- Exposition
Week 8- Style/Voice
Week 9- Character
Week 10- Setting
Week 11- Plot
[Here, of course, I want stories that particularly shine in the aspect du semaine.]

Week 12 – Gender
Week 13 – Race
Week 14- Morality
[I’m pretty sure Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” will be the story for week 14, but the others are up in the air. The general idea of this unit is, hey, spec fic can play interesting games with these topics.]

Week 15- How to submit stories
[Might or might not have a reading for this week. It’ll depend on whether I find a story I just really really love and want to end on.]

I would prefer short stories, though in a terrible pinch I might use a novel excerpt. Suggestions?

0 Responses to “stories needed”

  1. deedop

    I’m not sure what you’re looking to cover for “gender,” but if you want a good in-your-face brutal piece w/ feminist issues, there’s always Connie Willis’ “All My Darling Daughters.”

    For style/voice (or just because it knocked my sox off and it’s so damned original), I suggest “Biographical Notes to ‘A Discourse on the Nature of Causality, with Air-Planes’, by Benjamin Rosenbaum.”

    I’ll post a couple more if I think of ’em.

    • Marie Brennan

      Happily, the Rosenbaum is available online. I’ll probably need tips on where to find most of these stories, so I can at least try to evaluate some of them before making my choices.

    • lowellboyslash


      Alternately, Delaney is the generally agreed-upon go-to guy for Weird Gender Schtuff, but I know nothing about any short fiction he may have written.

      I’m about to be home and can mine the collection of YBFHs I have there if you like. For style and voice, though (and for overall awesomeness), I have to put in a word for Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life.” It’s a little lengthy, but it’s both incredible structurally and brilliantly creative.

    • kitsunealyc

      Or for a comedy piece (and this would be an interesting pairing of two works by the same author…I believe both are fairly short), Connie Willis’ “Even the Queen”.

      Just do a whole Connie Willis class. She’s that good.

  2. akashiver

    Sci fi – Larry Niven, “Inconstant Moon”
    – C.J. Cherryh, “Pots”
    -(golden age) Arthur C. Clarke, “The 9 Billion Names of God”

    Horror – “Puce Boy” by Michael Libling

    Slipstream – “The Fluted Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi

    Fantasy – Alan Moore “A Hypothetical Lizard”, Terry Pratchett “Troll Bridge,”

    That’s it for the moment…

  3. novalis

    I actually would focus a class on writing SF on the things that are different about SF. Any story might be notable for things discussed in weeks 4-11 (although setting/worldbuilding is more key to SF, so it is perhaps worth more time).

    For Style/Voice, The Fishie is rather an extreme example.

    Setting: Michael Swanwick’s Mother Grasshopper is set on a giant grasshopper. Jailwise, by Lucius Shepard, is set in a surreal jail. It’s a bit longer, but it’s absolutely incredible.

    Character: Swanwick again — The Edge Of The World shows a good portrait of adolescence.

    • Marie Brennan

      The issue with weeks 4-11 is that this is supposed to be a low-level course suitable for freshmen and sophomores; I’ll have a higher chance of getting it accepted if it’s a creative writing course by way of sf/f/h, rather than something that assumes much familiarity with the genres or creative writing in general. I’d love to teach something more specialized, but this isn’t the time or place to do it.

  4. Anonymous


    For the conlanging aspect of specfic, I suggest Mark Rosenfelder’s Language Construction Kit:

    The LCK can teach a novice how to create a reasonably good conlang in a short amount of time.


    • Marie Brennan

      Re: Conlangs

      This course isn’t really designed to cover specialized topics like conlanging.

      • Anonymous

        Re: Conlangs

        Some of us consider conlanging absolutely necessary to good specfic, esp. fantasy. Writers ignore it at their own peril. It should at least be introduced in any class that purports to teach this kind of writing.


  5. feyangel

    Have you looked at “I am Legend” by Richard Matheson.

    It is the awesome and might work for a few of your weeks.
    Assuming I am understanding what you are asking for correctly.

    • Marie Brennan

      What can you tell me about it, and where can I find it?

      • feyangel

        The story is mostly from one character’s PoV.

        Basics are, the main character is the last human on the planet. the rest of the populace are ‘vampires’. Complications and revelations are following. Very well done perspective on one man alone in a world fighting with his own inner demons and the ones on his lawn. 🙂

        It is a great read for a story written in the 1950’s

        Here is the Wiki

        It has a good summary, but it is a plot spoiler.

  6. snickelish

    Marie, I brainstormed a little and came up with the following:

    Language – Bradbury; I’d recommend maybe “Ylla” or “Million Year Picnic” from The Martian Chronicles, or even “Rocket Summer,” which is the lovely short snippet that opens the book. These might also be good for the “description” or “Style/voice” weeks.

    -Roger Zelazny might also be good for language/description/voice. Try maybe “Unicorn Variation” (from collection Unicorn Variations), Auto-Da-Fe (available here), or “Comes Now the Power” (from collection The Last Defender of Camelot).

    Voice – Cordwainer Smith did some neat epic/legend sounding stories, such as “The Lady Who Sailed the Soul” (in collection Best of Cordwainer Smith).

    Setting – William Gibson, maybe? He has a book of short stories out called Burning Chrome, and there are several that might be good, such as “Johnny Mnemonic” (much better than the movie) or the title story. His settings are dark, dystopian, and very vivid.

    Plot – Something by Connie Willis, probably one of her humorous pieces such as “In the Late Cretaceous,” “At the Rialto,” “Spice Pogram,” or “Blued Moon” (all in either Impossible Things or Fire Watch and Other Stories).

    Finally, I’d second the recommendation that you use Ted Chiang’s “The Story of Your Life” somewhere – it’d be a pretty interesting POV example, since the woman is describing future as well as past events.

    Incidentally, the SciFi Channel republished a whole bunch of classic short fiction when they were still doing fiction on their website, so you might check there to find things people recommend. Another useful site is BestSF, which has links to a bunch of fiction available online, from both old and new authors.

    Good luck with these. It’ll be interesting to hear how it goes. 🙂

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