As most of you know (or at least those of you who read this blog regularly) I have already taken an independent study course at UC Santa Cruz on select works of Philip K. Dick. It was a thoroughly enjoyable course partly because I got to select what I wanted to read, and because, well, it’s Philip K. Dick. How can you go wrong with that, right? Add the fact that I got to work with a professor who is equally as enthusiastic about science fiction (and related genres, and particularly Mr. Dick and authors like Octavia Butler, Samuel R. Delany, etc.) and I can honestly say it was one of the best classes I have ever taken. One thing I found thoroughly helpful was being able to meet with the professor and have a one-on-one, discussing the works, the themes, the author, etc. While I have no problem with standard classes of 30 people, I find that the personalized approach does bring a broader understanding of whatever material you are looking at, which was the case for me.
Having said all this, I am starting to think about what to do for next year. I already hope to do an I.S. course with a professor interested in Cyberpunk, which is great for me, because I’m interested in it too. That leaves me the option of doing one other I.S. course, since I’m allowed three of them for my degree. Quite honestly, I have every intention to use all three because it allows me to directly relate to the material most interesting to me.
The result is that I haven’t a clue what I want to do with that free slot. Currently I’m thinking of the following ideas:
- Flirting With the Edges: A course that looks at works that flirt with the edges of genre fiction. Folks like Kazuo Ishiguro or Haruki Murakami, and no doubt loads more. I’d research this, but think of it as a look at books that may have fantastic elements, or SF elements, but don’t flaunt them. One of Kazuo Ishiguro’s books is apparently about clones, but he supposedly writes it so well that you don’t notice until later in the novel.
- Octavia Butler’s Xenogenisis: I’ve thought of doing a course on this. It’s a huge trilogy, but it is also an awesome trilogy, or so I hear. I really like Butler’s work. I’ve read a novel and several short stories by her and have to say her work is very good. This would be an interesting course.
- William Horwood’s Duncton Wood: I absolutely loved the first book and the second. I’ve yet to read the whole series, but his work is stunning. I don’t know, though. While I would have a blast looking deep into this amazing work, I wonder if it’s not enough. It’s a huge book by itself, and having the others would make for a great survey, but that’s a lot of reading. I do love his work, though. I wonder if maybe I could do something with his work for a research project…
My question is, what sort of things would you recommend? Any particular themes, authors, etc.? If you had the opportunity in school (whether you’re still in it or have moved on), what would be a specfic idea you’d want to pursue?