Black Mirror and Westworld are among the most popular television programs of recent years. Marvel has been transformed from a comic book publishing holdover from the 1950s into a multi-media entertainment machine. Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale are best sellers once again. This course will endeavor to find out why with a survey of science fiction history based on the idea that sci-fi is our canary in the coal mine — it tells us where we are going. Texts will include short stories by Philip K. Dick, Ted Chiang, Kate Wilhelm, Nancy Kress and Octavia Butler; other materials may range from Radiolab to The X-Files to Rogue One. No prior science fiction knowledge is necessary but students can begin by purchasing Octavia Butler’s paperback, Bloodchild and Other Stories. Additional materials will come from the Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (no purchase necessary) and will be distributed on the first class session.