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Teach Your Students How to Write Science Fiction

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/30/2012

Writing science fiction makes a great creative assignment for nerds and non-nerds alike. Teach students how to write science fiction in your English class.

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    "Nanu! Nanu! Earthlings," I smirked. "We are going to study science fiction." The class remained motionless. "What's wrong, Earthlings?"

    Bob Smartmouth raised his hand and remarked, "We've been struck by the boring laser and are frozen stiff with boredom. Everytime you open your mouth it gets worse." I searched for my laser gun to shoot Bob but realized I wasn't actually an alien. Bob continued, "Perhaps your lesson wouldn't be so boring if we actually got to write our own science fiction."

    I liked Bob's idea. Now, In addition to reading science fiction, we spend time writing our own to put what we've learned into practice.

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    Key Elements of Sci Fi

    • Science fiction is about imaginary events that involve science and technology. The setting is usually futuristic and can take place on Earth, outer space, or invented settings. Famous science fiction writers include Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Jules Verne.
    • Science fiction relates stories about settings affected by developments in science and technology. The scientific developments must make the setting both possible and necessary. For example, the Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury chronicles the colonization of Mars made possible by advances in aerospace technology and necessary due to global war. Disney's Wall-E is set in Earth and outer space. The movie depicts the dangers of technology on many levels. It is necessary for Earth's inhabitants to leave due to pollution. Earthlings have also lost touch with each other, made possible by electronification -- text messages, cell phones, computer conferencing.
    • A science fiction story must be plausible, if not realistic. The author must provide familiar details that are either true or potentially true with technological advances. Even if the story is far fetched or exaggerated, it should still seem plausible. One example is Arthur C. Clarke's Space Odyssey 2001. It's far-fetched, yet plausible that humans rely on computers too much.
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    Procedures

    1. Discuss the above notes. Review setting if necessary.
    2. Brainstorm as a class recent scientific developments.
      • stem cell research/cloning
      • Twitter/Facebook/MySpace
      • Internet
      • Camera Cell Phones
      • Tiny cameras and microphones
      • Surveillance improvements
      • Linked bank cards
      • PayPal
      • New Weapons
    3. Discuss consequences of technological developments. Be sure to include potential negative consequences.
    4. Create a plot that centers on the consequences of technology and science.
    5. Add realistic details to the setting to make the story plausible.