About

Overview

Faculty and students in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication have long been pioneers in science fiction studies. Literature professor Irving “Bud” Foote taught one of the first accredited college-level classes on this subject at Tech in 1971. In 1998, Foote donated his personal book and magazine collection to Georgia Tech Archives. Today the Science Fiction Collection at Tech contains over 12,000 science fiction related items and has been written up in Science Fiction Studies as one of the top twenty collections of its kind in the world.

LMC is currently home to a number of scholars who research, teach and create science fiction. The core faculty associated with LMC’s science fiction initiatives are Professors Kathleen Ann Goonan, Jay Telotte, and Lisa Yaszek.  In addition to their scholarly and pedagogical work, these faculty members organize annual science fiction symposia, run research groups dedicated to science fiction studies, and mentor students interested in pursuing careers in science fiction writing and criticism.

Current Sci Fi@Tech initiatives include The Sci Fi Lab radio show (broadcasting every Thursday night on WREK radio at 91.1 FM/www.wrek.org) and Rite of Passage, an independent, full-length steamfunk film that members of the Georgia Tech community are producing in collaboration with MV Media and Roaring Lion productions. Future plans include hosting a summer institute on science fiction studies and creating a science fiction studies minor and/or masters’ degree program that combines courses in science fiction studies, science and technology studies and archival research methods with lab-based research experiences.

History

Georgia Tech has a longstanding tradition of commitment to science fiction studies. GT literature professor Irving “Bud” Foote taught one of the first accredited college-level classes on this subject in 1971. Throughout his career Foote published widely on the meaning and value of science fiction in the modern world, and he developed the Institute’s reputation as a place committed to the serious study of speculative literature by bringing to campus majors authors including Fred Pohl, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kim Stanley Robinson.  Since 2000, Professor Lisa Yaszek has taken point on Georgia Tech’s science fiction initiatives. Yaszek teaches science fiction classes; runs a research lab where students contribute to the ongoing development of an online science fiction dictionary; and serves as faculty mentor for the Sci Fi Lab radio show on WREK. She has hosted four science fiction symposia featuring the work of student artists alongside that of professionals such as Kathleen Ann Goonan, Paul di Filippo and Minister Faust, and she serves as faculty liaison for visiting scholars pursuing science fiction studies at Tech.

Resources and People

The Georgia Tech Science Fiction Collection is one of the Institute’s most unique resources for research and education. In 1998, Prof. Foote laid the foundation for the science fiction collection by donating his personal book and magazine collection to Georgia Tech Archives, which currently holds over 10,000 science fiction and fantasy novels, anthologies, and more than 1,000 periodical issues. American science fiction printed between 1950 and 1990 is the collection’s strongest coverage area. Other special features include rare first edition works by H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and Edgar Rice Burroughs, first editions of award-winning contemporary writer David Brin’s major works (both in English and in translation) and a complete run of the Ballantine Fantasy Series. Major contributors to collection since its inception in 1998 include Brin, science fiction scholar Richard Ehrlich, the Atlanta Science Fiction Society, and Dr. Thomas Patrick Malone, father of Georgia Tech alumni Thomas Patrick Malone II. The Collection is the largest of its kind of the Southeastern U.S. and was recently written up in Science Fiction Studies as one of the top twenty collections of its kind in the world.

Georgia Tech is also home to a number of scholars who research, teach and create science fiction. Most work in the School of Literature, Media and Communication (LMC), a unit dedicated to generating “humanistic perspectives on a technological world.” The three core faculty members associated with science fiction studies are Yaszek, a past president of the Science Fiction Research Association who studies science fiction as a global phenomenon crossing centuries, continents and cultures; Jay. P. Telotte, editor of the journal Postscript and a pioneering scholar in both science fiction film and science fiction television studies; and Kathleen Ann Goonan, a critically-acclaimed, award-winning science fiction author who, in her capacity as a member of the Sigma Group, consults with governments and NGOs around the world. Other LMC faculty members offer classes in science fiction-related topics including utopia, the gothic, steampunk, and video game design. Taken together, these members of the Georgia Tech community show how science fiction functions as the premiere narrative of technoscientific modernity.

Current Projects and Future Plans

In collaboration with the Georgia Tech Library and other interested parties across the Institute, LMC faculty are working on several initiatives to grow the unit’s reputation as a major center for science fiction studies. Prof. Yaszek and other members of the Georgia Tech community are currently working with MV Media and Roaring Lion Productions to produce Rite of Passage, the first-ever full-length “steamfunk” film. Future plans include the creation of a science fiction studies minor based on classes already offered by LMC faculty members and the development of a masters program that combines courses in science fiction studies, science and technology studies and archival research methods with lab-based research experiences. Science fiction studies programs are increasingly popular both in the United States and abroad, but most are housed within traditional English departments. Georgia Tech’s extant science fiction resources, along with LMC’s commitment to interdisciplinary humanistic inquiry and the unit’s history of working productively with other colleges across campus, guarantees that the Institute can make a unique contribution to this growing field of study.

For further information about science fiction initiatives at Georgia Tech, please contact Professor Lisa Yaszek at lisa.yaszek@lmc.gatech.edu.