This course considers the rise of science fiction as a genre from Mary Wollstonecraft’s gothic exploration of scientific hubris in Frankenstein (1818) to Ursula Le Guin’s ambiguous utopia, The Dispossessed (1974). Focusing on the genre’s recurring themes, motifs, and tropes, we will examine how various subgenres of science fiction, including the utopia and dystopia, reflect present social conditions while exploring the nature and limits of reality. We will also consider how science fiction offers tools for thinking critically about some deep existential questions: Should we view technology as our saviour or as our destroyer? How flexible is human nature, and how might we be different? Can we work together to achieve our desired future, or are we doomed to environmental, cultural, or cosmic apocalypse? What, in essence, does it mean to be human?