Over the last century, science fiction has become one of the more influential, intellectually rigorous and pleasurable ways to speculate about the accelerating changes in our world. This course will offer a selective survey of the themes animating the genre. Our discussions will engage (but not be limited to) the following questions: how might science fiction be said to redefine "the human"? How might our texts manipulate notions of paranoia (paranoia associated with the Cold War, but also with a sense that people are becoming corporate and media instruments)? Although science fiction is most often thought of as future-oriented, these texts also frequently re-imagine the past; what are the implications of this temporal re-visioning? Why is slavery (in various forms) a prominent aspect of the contemporary science fiction landscape? How are various anxieties about social and biological reproduction put into dialogue in these works? What happens to notions of gender and sexuality when technological innovations, such as genetic manipulation and cloning, come into play? What compels the notable exploration of warfare in contemporary science fiction? To what extent may these texts be read as meditations on loss and mourning? What is the relationship between science and religion in the science fiction texts? How might the texts be said to re-animate aspects of religion that have been displaced in a civil society enthralled with the powers of science? Authors will include H.G. Wells, Stanislaw Lem, Octavia Butler, Orson Scott Card, Ursula Le Guin, William Gibson, and Margaret Atwood.