Review of How Great Science Fiction Works

scifi landscapeThis week, my travels took me to a newly discovered continent: Kanopy. Maybe you know about it already, but I didn’t. For those of you still wandering in the fog like I was, Kanopy is a streaming service that libraries and universities can sign up for. My wife discovered it and learned that we could connect by referencing a valid alumni email address from our alma mater. (Check to see whether your university or local library offers the same thing.) Their collection of old movies, indie films, documentaries, lecture series, and even children’s programming seems really impressive. Yay for libraries!

Anyway, our first foray into Kanopy has been with a documentary series. Actually, it’s a university lecture series called How Great Science Fiction Works. It’s not (as the title might suggest) a course on how to write SF, but instead is a really insightful look at how broad themes are used in science fiction literature as a whole.

The host is Dr. Gary Wolfe, from Roosevelt University. He seems a bit uncomfortable in front of the camera at times, (strange pauses and cadences in his delivery, although in a way that may be familiar to Shatner fans :-) but he’s really knowledgeable and manages to keep the ideas flowing. I’d always considered myself pretty well read in the genre, but this guy really knows his stuff. While he’s hitting on lots of authors and books that I have read, he’s also relating it to ones that I haven’t. So if you’re looking for a guide to the SF that matters, you’ll find it all right there, delivered in a way that not only tells you which books are important, but also why.

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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.