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Friday, August 7, 2015


I have a meeting next Friday with someone from the Office of Distance Learning to help me get everything sorted out on Blackboard, so I'm taking a bit of a pause on that. I've spent a while today trying to get all my documents cleaned up and ready to go, but I'm about out of gas on that, too. Today's big frustration was realizing that I had written over the "brilliant" work I'd done the other day, coming up with more focused and intellectual topics for the first paper for Mystery & Detective, so I had to reconstruct--and of course I feel like what I came up with isn't anywhere near as good as what I had and lost. (Wouldn't it be fascinating to have some way of testing that, to recover a brilliant idea you think you've lost and compare it with the reconstruction that you're sure isn't anywhere near as good to see how accurately you assess the relative strengths of the one you can only remember thinking was brilliant versus the one you actually have?)

(The convolutions of that sentence are, I think, a relatively good indication of where my brain is at this moment.)

However, on the topic of feeling as if progress is being made, I do think I'll use Wells's The Time Machine for SF, but not The Invisible Man, which is more gothic horror than SF--although even The Time Machine is considered SF only because there's an actual machine involved. That's going to be fun to address, I think (I hope): what makes something SF? No one agrees entirely--or at least it's awfully hard to draw the borders. (That's sort of true of a lot of genres, come to think of it.) So, at the moment, the reading list is Frankenstein (because, well, you sort of have to), The Time Machine, and The Word for World Is Forest. Judging from the reading list that worked last time out for the Mystery course, I can probably do three, maybe four more--if I stick with novels. If I put some short stories in there, I can cover more ground but not as deeply, and honestly, I know the novels better. I would also like to show a movie or two: Blade Runner, if I end up teaching Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and maybe Avatar, to pick up on some of the issues in The Word for World. (By the way, nerd note: Le Guin wanted to call that novel Little Green Men, which would have been appropriate, amusing, and a hell of a lot less effort to write--and say--than the title her publishers insisted upon.)

OK, enough for now. I'm about to be a student of equitation--which is always beautifully humbling as an experience. I rode on Wednesday, too, so my body feels now like my students' brains feel: ow ow ow. But good ow.

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