Writing Science Fiction


Science fiction has become the dominant literary genre of a rapidly changing technological society, mutating into sub-genres like space opera, cyber-punk and the interzones of speculative fiction and fantasy. In this one-day workshop we’ll examine how science fiction engages with the human implications of space exploration, astrophysics, climate change, artificial intelligence and the internet in authors like Arthur C.Clarke, J.G Ballard and William Gibson. We’ll discuss your concepts for short stories or novels and how these might be developed in terms of form and style. We’ll also look at the world of science fiction publishing.



‘Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.’ (J.G Ballard) 


'An argued departure from reality.' (John Clute)


'Fiction that acknowledges a scientific version of the universe and concerns itself with the questions that this vision forces upon us.' (Judith Merrill) 


'One of the biggest roles of science fiction is to prepare people to accept the future without pain and to encourage a flexibility of mind. .... Two-thirds of 2001 is realistic -- hardware and technology -- to establish background for the metaphysical, philosophical, and religious meanings later.'(Arthur C. Clarke)


'Science fiction is the search for a definition of man and his status in the universe which will stand in our advanced but confused state of knowledge (science), and is characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mould.' (Brian Aldiss)


'I don't think "science fiction" is a very good name for it, but it's the name that we've got. It is different from other kinds of writing, I suppose, so it deserves a name of its own. But where I can get prickly is if I'm just called a sci-fi writer. I'm not. I'm a novelist and poet. Don't shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don't fit, because I'm all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions' (Ursula Le Guin)


'I will argue for an understanding of SF as the literature of cognitive estrangement ... whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author's empirical environment' (Darko Suvin)


Suvin devised the term  “Novum”  to refer to whatever new, currently non-existent element drives a science fiction story. The Novum, many would argue, is the thing that makes a sci-fi story sci-fi - or fantasy...


'The reason that I like SF and fantasy and horror is that to me it's the pulp wing of surrealism. That's the aesthetic of undermining and creative alienation that I really go for'

(China Mievelle)


'Joy is the essential and final ingredient of science fiction, the joy of discovery of newness.'

(Philip K Dick)


Science fiction/speculative fiction/fantasy  - a depiction of the  sublime, the OTHER - invoking a sense of wonder; a thought experiment; an exercise in extrapolation - asking ' what if...?'  It's a zone where themes and genres often overlap and mutate...






Space exploration and colonisation; structure of space-time;  time travel; robotics and artificial intelligence environmental change and climate change; genetic engineering; contact with extraterrestrial life; parallel universes and alternative histories; nature of consciousness; future of humanity/outer space/inner space/cyberspace




space opera; first contact; alien invasion; military sf; interplanetary colonisation;the multiverse; parallel universes; steam punk; solar punk; cyberpunk; biopunk; utopia; dystopia; post nuclear apocalypse; post climate catastrophe; Afro-futurism; feminist science fiction; science fiction poetry




The hero's journey; the quest; the search for a saviour  the magical object (Grail, Ring etc) good vs evil; redemption/salvation of the kingdom; the portal; mythic creatures; ancient and dangerous realms



sword and sorcery; high and low magic; the superhero; the occult detective; paranormal romance; magic realism;dark fantasy;  horror (vampire, zombie)

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©Paul Green 2017