Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Weird Fiction Portal

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Creative Writing: Stories in the Darkness

Join the amazing Jennie Starstuff: NASA Solar System Ambassador with Sparrow F. Alden to talk about the coolest, trippiest space physics to inspire our fiction! We’ll learn stuff on one day to use as writing prompts for peer-review on the second day. The plan is to explore star lore and archaeoastronomy; gravity and relativity (things get really weird); stars and cosmic life cycles; and life in the cosmos (alien contact? Heck, yes!). What about the amazing spaces between? We will have wonderful sonifications (sound pictures) of some of the most wonder-filled, hard to believe astro science out there—just imagine the stories we’ll create!


Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Creative Writing: Writing Computers

What does a computer scientist wish that writers knew? That we are building aliens right here on Earth? That perception is not what we think it is? Join us for four weeks of learning, writing, and feedback. In "How Does Hacking Actually Work?" we'll learn to write far more complex and realistic scenes than Hollywood. In "Computer Perception" we'll talk about detecting the simple presence of volts and the most subtle patterns of the cosmos. In "Computer Interfaces" we're going to cook up stories about the Alien, the Understander, and the Quality of Misunderstanding. Finally in "Atemporal Decision Theory" we're going to ask enough questions about Truth, sentience, and honor to fill adventure after adventure with artificial and artisanal intelligences. Each week we'll have a learning and discussion day plus a day to reflect on "This idea made me ask 'what if?' and reach for my keyboard."

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.

Exploring William Gibson's Jackpot: Agency

Agency is the second novel of William Gibson's Jackpot Trilogy. Agency's timeline emerges in a branch universe where the 2016 election went otherwise and a somewhat salty AI assistant gets loose in the internet. Nanobot assassinations and attenuated time travel, surly barristas and tech billionaires, smart-ass AI and an elderly super-empowerd Detective Inspector Ainsley work to avoid the blades of the looming Jackpot. Although a sequel to The Peripheral, you need not have read that book to enjoy Agency. Please join us!
Precepted by Dr. Patrick Malloy

Haunting Tales: A Haunting on the Hill by Elizabeth Hand Continuing Series

For the very first time, Shirley Jackson’s estate has authorized a book inspired by Shirley Jackson’s work. The 2023 novel A Haunting on the Hill by author Elizabeth Hand (a three-time Shirley Jackson, World Fantasy, and Nebula Award winner) is a direct response to Shirley Jackson’s 1959 classic story The Haunting of Hill House. How does Elizabeth Hand challenge, update, and/or expand on the ideas of Shirley Jackson? How well does A Haunting on the Hill continue the tale of The Haunting of Hill House and/or stand on its own as a work of Gothic horror?

In this module, we will consider the challenges of the sequel or “inspired-by” work, discuss A Haunting on the Hill both in its context and on its own merits, note how the novel fits into Elizabeth Hand’s larger body of writings, and explore the ongoing relevance of the Gothic to 21st-century readers.
Precepted by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis

Haunting Tales Series Series

This is the Landing Page for Dr. Amy H. Sturgis's Haunting Tales series:

Module 1 explores the context and inspirations of the Gothic horror classic, The Haunting of Hill House (1959), by Shirley Jackson. We will consider its popular and critical receptions, its place in Shirley Jackson’s larger body of work, and its impact on contemporary readers.

Module 2 explore the challenges of the sequel or “inspired-by” work, A Haunting on the Hill (2023), by author Elizabeth Hand, both in its context as a response to The Haunting of Hill House and on its own merits. We will also consider how the novel fits into Elizabeth Hand’s larger body of writings and the ongoing relevance of the Gothic to 21st-century readers.

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Note: Students can jump in at any month/part of the Series. There are no prerequisites.
Precepted by Dr. Amy H. Sturgis

Haunting Tales: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson First in the Series

The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson is a classic of Gothic horror, a haunted house tale lauded by critics, loved by readers, and repeatedly adapted for stage and screen for more than half a century. What makes this novel a successful example of its genre? Why has it spoken to generations of readers? How does its messages represent and/or transcend its time? In this module we will explore the context and inspirations for The Haunting of Hill House, its popular and critical receptions, its place in Shirley Jackson’s larger body of work, and its impact on contemporary readers.

In the Age of Wonder: The Many Themes of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal, a film directed and created by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, was released at Christmastime in 1982. An attempt at a more mature and decidedly darker direction for Henson, it performed modestly in the box office to mixed reviews. Despite its poor initial beginnings, over the next 42 years, The Dark Crystal became a cult classic. Why the appeal all these years later? In this class we will explore this multifaceted dark fantasy as a stand of world building from the better appreciated “Muppet” canon. Over the course of eight sessions we will discuss the world of Thra through the film itself, seen afresh with the new lenses of various forms of modern criticism. Please join us for a combination of short lectures and lively discussion of this visual and technical masterpiece whether you’re a long-time fan or neophyte.
Precepted by Kerra Fletcher and Jay Moses

Intro to Fan Fiction

What is fan fiction? Where did it come from? Why do people read and write it?

This module will explore fan fiction as a platform, independent of any particular universe (although we will touch on several, based on student input), including its origins, conventions and techniques, purposes, and the opinions of a variety of different stake holders: authors, show creators, and legal experts among them. Students will complete this course with a high-level understanding of fan fiction as genre, community, and as a transformative response to the source material.

Meeting the Horned God of the Witches

The Horned God, alongside being modern paganism's most popular deity, enjoys a rich heritage in speculative fiction and popular culture. In this module, we will explore his ancient (and modern) origins, his appearances in both esoteric and popular literature, and his surprising role as an environmental figure. Throughout the module, students will gain familiarity with the four core figures that make up the Horned God (Pan, Cernunnos, the Sorcerer of Trois Freres, and Herne the Hunter), and key narratives associated with him. They will also have an opportunity to ponder the complex web of influences between modern paganism and speculative fiction.

This module builds on the work of Margaret Murray and the module 'The Witch-Cult Hypothesis', but does not require prior knowledge of the material covered there.
Precepted by Dr. Anna Milon

Wayward Children Novella Series Series of 3

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 1 First in the Series

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.

Explore the first three novellas (Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones, and Beneath the Sugar Sky) of the Hugo and Nebula-winning Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. Join in for a discussion on portal fantasies, children's adventures, and what it can mean to believe in a world you may never see again.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 2 Continuing Series

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children has three rules: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests. Pity that most worlds give no care for rules not their own.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Wayward Children Novellas: Part 3 Continuing Series

Boarding schools have become a staple in fantasy, but Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children specializes in children that have stumbled into and then out of portals and haven't quite managed to adjust to being back from their adventures. There are three rules at Eleanor West's: No Solicitations, No Visitors, and No Quests.
Precepted by Laurel Stevens

Writers' Workshop: The Different Body Problem

It's a sometimes inconvenient fact that characters have bodies, and sometimes, those bodies directly affect the stories we write about them. Writing characters who live in bodies that do not perform according to the cultural standard is a skill like any other part of the writer's craft.

In this course, we will look at examples from literature of how authors have dealt with what we usually call disabilities. Some have done well, others have materially harmed people with their writing.

We will also work with one another to hone our craft as writers who are telling stories so that we can find the new and inspirational, while leaving behind the worn-out clichés that make the lives of people like your preceptor materially harder.

Note: Texts will be provided by the preceptor.

Note: For more information about the Collaborative Feedback Method in SPACE, please check out our video here.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].