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|Title:||Using Sawyer and Czerneda in the Classroom|
|Keywords:||science fiction;Robert Sawyer;Julie Czerneda;classroom instruction;teaching|
|Abstract:||I like to teach science while students are doing something they already enjoy, whether on the ski slopes (The Physics of Snowboarding), thinking about aliens (Life in the Universe) or reading science fiction (Science in Science Fiction). For this paper I’d like to discuss how I use Mindscan by Robert J Sawyer and Survival by Julie E Czerneda in the classroom. Both these novels are soaked in science so completely that each chapter could have a whole class period devoted to it. In Czerneda’s Survival, the metaphors of biology infect the whole story structure so that students can learn biological principles such as natural selection, ecosystems and reproductive strategies without any long info-dumps. The advantages of r-strategy reproduction become, not just another term to learn, but horrifyingly real. One could argue that consciousness studies, the subject of Mindscan, cannot fit the goals of a science course. There are no experiments that can be done at the moment that can test the location of the mind, whether consciousness drives our zombie bodies or if consciousness if a emergent property from the complexity of the brain. Therein lies the beauty of science fiction: the novel is the experiment. We can see how the scientific method could be used. With the first-person narration, we see the thought processes of Jake both before and after the mindscan procedure. We see the mechanical nature of a biological mind in Jakes vegetative father, and again in the personality change after Jake has brain surgery on the moon. The scientific mindset of a world that can be known, tested through experiments, the notion that all mysteries can be solved permeates the works of both Sawyer and Czerneda in a way that makes them perfect authors to study in a course such as this.|
|Appears in Collections:||Science Fiction: The Interdisciplinary Genre|
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