Lecture: Joe Haldeman on "The Craft of Science Fiction"

SFFaudio Online Audio

iTunes U iTunes U, is a new section in the iTunes store offering the content of higher education institutions. Lectures and seminars dominate, some video, some audio. A few of the cooler ones that have caught our eyes are up already. The last set is a collection from Seattle Pacific University (a “Christian university of the liberal arts, sciences and professions”) as such these are lectures that look at their subject decidedly Christian POV. For those of you who don’t use iTunes we’ve also tracked down the original sources when we could find them. Either way, listen online or pop into the iTunes store and get U some education!
Massachusetts Institute of Technology “The Craft of Science Fiction”
By Joe Haldeman
iTunes U download or 1 RealAudio file – 1 Hour 47 Minutes – [LECTURE]
University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Released: Nov. 2006
A lecture by MIT professor (and Science Fiction legend) Joe Haldeman.
Arizona State University “Nano-Ethics through the writing of Science Fiction”
By Rosalyn W. Berne PhD.
iTunes U download or 1 MP3 – 54 Minutes – [LECTURE]
University: Arizona State University
Released: May 2007
Berne is Associate Professor at the University of Virginia.
Seattle Pacific University 4 Tolkien Lectures
By John G. West, Janet Blumberg, Peter Kreeft & Joseph Pearce
iTunes U downloads & 1 Mp3 – Approx. 3 Hours 16 Minutes [LECTURES]
University: Seattle Pacific University
Released: 2001
Lectures included:
Tolkien 1 of 4: “The Lord Of The Rings as a Defense of Western Civilization” by John G. West
Tolkien 2 of 4: “Literary Background of The Lord Of The Rings” by Janet Blumberg
Tolkien 3 of 4: “Wartime Wisdom: Ten Uncommon Insights from The Lord Of The Rings about Evil” by Peter Kreeft |MP3|
Tolkien 4 of 4: “Tolkein, Man and Myth”* by Joseph Pearce

* Please note, Tolkien’s name is spelled wrong in the 4th lecture’s title, be sure to enter the title as it appear above in the iTunes search.

Four H.P. Lovecraft Lectures

SFFaudio Online Audio

Yog RadioSure we point you towards actual recordings of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories – that’s nothing new – but surely you’d like to go deeper. How about some lectures on Lovecraft himself? Ya, we see you nodding that head… POOF! Your wish is our command…

Posted below are a series of four linked lectures titled H.P. Lovecraft and The Occult. These were recorded at Treadwell’s Bookshop in Covent Garden, London, UK. The speaker is Justin Woodman, a Social Anthropology lecturer at Goldsmiths College (University of London).

Lectures - H.P. Lovecraft And The Occult by Justin WoodmanH.P. Lovecraft Lectures
By Dr. Justin Woodman
4 MP3s – 5 Hours 26 Minutes [LECTURES]
Podcaster: Yog Radio / Yog-Sothoth.com
Podcast: May 2007
Lecture #1 – HPL: Fabulist, Myth-Maker & Shaman |MP3|
Lecture #2 – Legends of The Necronomicon |MP3|
Lecture #3 – Chariots of The Dark Gods |MP3|
Lecture #4 – Chaos, Cthulhu & Contemporary Consciousness |MP3|

An alternative to the download is the podcast feed for Yog Radio which is right here:


[via Joseph Remy’s Lost Carcosa blog]

Posted by Jesse Willis

Science Fiction and Politics University Course continues

Online Audio

Science Fiction and Politics Professor Courtney Brown‘s course at Emory University is a Political Science course entitled Science Fiction and Politics (Political Science 190). We’ve talked about this course more than once. But, as the new lectures appear in the feed, this podcast gets renewed interest, and thus prompts new posts. So here’s another, this one lists all the currently available lectures (Spring 2007 is now completed at Emory). Brown’s lectures below are from two semesters and feature some incisive political insights found in more than a dozen SF novels.

Lectures available:

01: Introduction and Overview |MP3|
02: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|
03: Foundation by Isaac Asimov (2 of 2) |MP3|
04: Foundation And Empire by Isaac Asimov |MP3|
05: Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov |MP3|
06: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1 of 2) |MP3|
07: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (2 of 2) |MP3|
08: The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2) |MP3|
09: The Left Hand Of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin (2 of 2) |MP3|
10: The Uplift War by David Brin (1 of 2) |MP3|
11: The Uplift War by David Brin (2 of 2) |MP3|
12: Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (1 of 2) |MP3|
13: Darwin’s Radio by Greg Bear (2 of 2) |MP3|
14: How to write your essays |MP3|
15: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1 of 2) |MP3|
16: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1 of 2) |MP3|
17: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (1 of 2)|MP3|
18: The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (2 of 2)|MP3|
19: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (1 of 2) |MP3|
20: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (2 of 2) |MP3|
21: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (1 of 3) |MP3|
22: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (2 of 3) |MP3|
23: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (3 of 3) |MP3|
24: Neuromancer by William Gibson (1 of 2) |MP3|
25: Neuromancer by William Gibson (2 of 2) |MP3|
26: On free will [based on Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy] (1 of 2) |MP3|
27: On free will [based on Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World] (2 of 2) |MP3|
28: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (1 of 2) |MP3|
29: The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin (2 of 2) |MP3|
30: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (1 of 2) |MP3|
31: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson (2 of 2) |MP3|
32: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|
33: The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov (1 of 2) |MP3|

You can subscribe to the podcast via this feed:


Also, Dr. Brown tells me that he’s been getting requests from some of his students for more female Science Fiction authors. He asks if we have any “top-of-the-list suggestions?” He’s been using Hugo and Nebula award winning novels, but we all know that there are plenty of novels out there that haven’t won a Hugo or a Nebula that are still worthy of examination. Can you think of any Dr. Brown should add to his class for next year?

Review of Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature by Michael D.C. Drout

SFFaudio Review

Modern Scholar - Rings, Sword, Monsters Rings, Swords, And Monsters: Exploring Fantasy Literature
Lectures by Professor Michael D.C. Drout
7 CDs & Book – 7 Hours 51 Minutes [LECTURES]
Publisher: Recorded Books LLC / The Modern Scholar
Published: 2006
ISBN: 1419386956
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Lectures / Fantasy / J.R.R. Tolkien / Middle Earth / Beowulf / Children’s Fantasy / Arthurian Legend / Magic Realism / World Building /

“It used to be that fantasy was a boy’s genre and that was clear even back through the 80s and 90s, that 90% of your audience for fantasy literature, 90% of your audience for Tolkien was male. That is no longer the case. When I give lecturings [sic] at gatherings of Tolkien enthusiasts the crowd is easily 50-50 male female and often times more female than male – though I will have to say that many of the women in the crowd are wearing elf-princess costumes – I’m not really sure what that means.”
-Lecture 13: Arthurian Fantasy (on the ‘Marion Zimmer Bradley effect’)

Most of this lecture series is concerned with Tolkien. Drout explains what influenced Tolkien’s fiction, how his work impacted Fantasy and how later writers reacted to and imitated him. A full five of the 14 lectures are on Tolkien’s books proper, with another four on what influenced him, and who he influenced. The scholarship here is absolutely engrossing, hearing Drout tease out details from names, the structure and the philosophy of Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion will delight any Tolkien fan. At one point in Lecture 4 Drout explains the sources for the names of both the 13 dwarves of The Hobbit and Gandalf too. According to Drout, Gandalf was originally named “Bladderthin.” But this isn’t just scholarship here, Drout is very much a critic, a fan of the works he studies. He gives a critical examination of plots, themes and the worlds of each of the Fantasy novels he talks about. Drout dissects Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books, calling them possibly the best Fantasy since Tolkien, on the one hand and also shows what doesn’t quite work in them. Drout, like Tolkien is an scholar of Anglo-Saxon so there is also plenty of talk about Beowulf and the impact it had on Tolkien. In fact, central to many of his arguments is the linguistic background each work of Fantasy makes use of. Tolkien works so well, argues Drout, in part, because it all hangs linguistically together. Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, which Drout thinks immensely prominent in post-Tolkien Fantasy, doesn’t have a cohesive linguistic bedrock, and that hurts the series – which he thinks is otherwise one of the best realized “secondary worlds” created. Whatever it is Drout talks about, he backs up his critical opinion. Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he’s read them, and has dissected the plots to show how as time has gone by and Brooks has written more, he’s come to have something of his own voice, and not just stayed the pale Tolkien imitator he started as.

The lectures on Tolkien inevitably lead to the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Drout gives them their due, and shows why some of it works and some of it doesn’t. Arthurian Fantasy, which predates Tolkien, seems to have run a parallel course to “secondary world” fantasy literature. After hearing Lecture 13 you’ll come away with a desire to find a copy of T.H. White’s The Once and Future King and Mary Stewart’s Merlin series. My own opinion is that Drout gives too much credit to J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter novels, he talks about her writing for about 8 minutes. In fairness it would probably not be possible to talk about Children’s Fantasy literature without mentioning her popular series. But on the other hand there are many different kinds of Fantasy that Drout doesn’t talk about at all. I wonder why Neil Gaiman isn’t mentioned. What of Robert E. Howard? And why almost no talk about short stories? James Powell’s A Dirge For Clowntown needs some attention! The only solution is for Recorded Books to go back and ask for more from this professor. Call it Gods, Barbarians, and Clowns: Further Explorations Of Fantasy Literature or something. Until then I’ll be working on my Cimmerian-clown costume.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of SF

Science Fiction Audibook Review

Clipper Audiobook - From Here to Infinity From Here To Infinity: An Exploration of Science Fiction
Lectures by Professor Michael D.C. Drout
7 CDs or 7 Cassettes – Approx. 7 hours [LECTURES]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Series: The Modern Scholar
Published: 2006
ISBN: (cassettes) 1419388754; (CDs) 1419388762
Themes: / Non-Fiction / History of Science Fiction / Lectures /

Esteemed professor Michael D.C. Drout traces the history of science fiction in this series of stimulating lectures. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to today’s cutting- edge authors, Drout offers a compelling analysis of the genre, including a look at hard-boiled science fiction, the golden age of science fiction, New Wave writers, and contemporary trends in the field.

I remember my Science Fiction English course in High School. Perhaps it was because I was at the peak of my teenage-angst snobbery, but I felt the teacher was teaching the course against her will. I left with a dislike of the “scholarly pursuit” of SF in the classroom.

After listening to Professor Drout, all those dislikes were washed away. He has a real knowledge of the history of Science Fiction and its roots. Although I’m not an expert, I pride myself on my knowledge of the genre’s history. Much of the material was not new to me, but Drout’s enthusiasm and pacing made the listening a pleasure.

Starting with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, he recounts the major progressions of SF up to Neal Stephenson and beyond. He offers some original thinking on how he categorizes many of the authors. I never considered Ray Bradbury a surrealist until Drout compared his work with J.G. Ballard. And anybody who devotes a large amount of a lecture to Cordwainer Smith is easily going to win me over.

Lectures included:

1 What Is Science Fiction?
2 The Roots of Science Fiction
3 Mysterious Lore, Marvelous Tech: The 1930s
4 Hard-Boiled Science Fiction: The 1940s
5 The Grand Master: Robert A. Heinlein
6 Onward and Outward: The 1950s, Space Travel, Apocalypticism, and the Beautiful Weirdness of Cordwainer Smith
7 A New Set of Questions: The “New Wave” of the 1960s and 1970s
8 The World Builder: Frank Herbert
9 The Surrealists: Ballard and Bradbury
10 The Computer Revolution: Cyberpunk and the 1980s
11 Post-Punk: Neal Stephenson
12 Women and Gender
13 The Satirists
14 The Shape of Things to Come

Review of Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination by Eric S. Rabkin

Audio Lectures Review

Non-fiction - Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination by Eric RabkinScience Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination
By Eric S. Rabkin; Read by Eric S. Rabkin
8 cassettes – 4 hours (8 half-hour lectures) [LECTURES]
Publisher: The Teaching Company
Published: 1999
Themes: / Non-Fiction / Science Fiction / Pulp / Hard SF / Cyberpunk / Utopia / Dystopia /

This one is a little different than our usual fiction reviews. Science Fiction: The Literature of the Technological Imagination is a non-fiction series of lectures about the origins, history, and influence of science fiction. Think of it as Science Fiction 101 and you’ll get the idea. As a course it fulfills the promise of its title, breaking down the origins and the meanings within in science fiction literature. Professor Rabkin is a talented lecturer. Though obviously scripted, his naturalistic lectures are thoroughly engaging. The lectures explore the history of science fiction back to its origins in Plato’s Republic, then steadily marches all the way to William Gibson’s Neuromancer. These lectures offer genuinely interesting insight, I learned something interesting in each and every lecture! Rabkin discusses the first science fiction novel, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, examines the pulp phenomena of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and gives examples of what makes hard SF “hard”. He looks at the social, technological, and literary forces that influenced the genre’s authors, and in doing so tells an entertaining story – the story of science fiction! In short, it’s a fascinating listen. I just wish that Rabkin would offer Science Fiction 201 next semester! Each half hour lecture could have easily been expanded into 2 hours.

The lectures are titled:

Lecture 1: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and the Emergence of Science Fiction
Lecture 2: Jules Verne and the Popular Passion for Science
Lecture 3: H.G. Wells and Science Fiction Parables of Social Criticism
Lecture 4: Pulp Culture, World War II, and the Ascendancy of American Science Fiction
Lecture 5: And the Winner Is…Robert A. Heinlein
Lecture 6: Ray Bradbury, Ursula K. LeGuin, and the Expansion of Science Fiction
Lecture 7: Stanley Kubrick, Arthur C. Clarke, and the Modern Science Fiction Film
Lecture 8: New Wave, Cyberpunk, and Our Science Fiction World