The Politics of Science Fiction


This course uses speculative and science fiction to explore some of the pressing political realities of our time. It will both ask students to explore these realities by entering into science fictional worlds, as well as to create new fictional worlds that explore these realities.

What role can imagination and storytelling play in creating political change? What is it that indigenous storytelling can teach us about the world? Can it open up new pathways for truth & reconciliation? What is gender, and what role does it play in our lives? Why is it that our culture assumes only two fixed genders, and what would it mean to have more (and more flexible) categories? Why is it that our culture assumes only two (or three) sexual orientations, and what would it mean to have more (and more flexible) categories? Would a world without genders be a utopia, a dystopia, or both at once?

On one level, this is an introduction to feminism and post-colonial thought through fiction; on another level, this is a class that asks students to use their imaginations politically. For the first half of the course we explore various topics by reading SciFi; for the second half of the course, by contrast, we study the kind of storytelling that is particular to SciFi, create a collective world via a worldbuilding game I’ve designed, and respond to a ‘crisis event’ by writing interactive fiction for their final project. This crisis event places students in a marginalized position and asks them to research real historical analogues as material for their writing. The goal of the game is to encourage empathy with marginalized groups through roleplaying, as well as to envision worlds that are more just than our own. This project also gives me the opportunity to teach them basic coding skills (with Twine)-- an opportunity several students have told me helped them get over their fear of coding.

Taught at

  • Vanier College in Montreal, QC (2017)
  • John Abbott College in Montreal, QC (2018, 2019)