Sci-fi & Fantasy MOOC wrap-up

I more or less finished my MOOC on sci-fi & fantasy and I figured I’d write a short review.

Oh god I’m so tired of it by now haha. No, just kidding, I really enjoyed it but I am excited to get back to Reading Whatever I Want. Out of 10 weeks, I finished readings for 8 weeks and posted essays for 7 of them. Due to a business trip I didn’t have time to finish Unit 9, and I was so tired I have decided to give up on Unit 10 as well.

Still, I figured I’d write super-short reviews for the books and short stories I read. This was our original reading list:

  1. Grimm — Children’s and Household Tales
  2. Carroll — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  3. Stoker — Dracula
  4. Shelley — Frankenstein
  5. Hawthorne & Poe — Stories and Poems
  6. Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind”, “The Star”
  7. Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland
  8. Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles
  9. LeGuin — The Left Hand of Darkness
  10. Doctorow — Little Brother

Unit 1: Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm
Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm

It was interesting finally reading these ultimate classic fairy tales. Not sure how I feel about them though. Some I loved. Mostly I didn’t care much about to be honest. But it was good to read them!

Unit 2: Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
This was actually a re-read for me. I read an edition wonderfully illustrated by Yayoi Kusama before. But it was just a nonsense fantasy story back then because I simply do not have the background of the 19th century English reader 😉 This time I read the book with annotations and that was a really interesting experience! I enjoyed it more.
Through the Looking Glass Meh. Didn’t really enjoy this.

Unit 3: Bram Stoker
Dracula
I enjoyed Dracula more than I thought I would! Sure, the story went on and on and that got a bit tiresome at times. And I wanted to slap all the men. And Van Helsing was really annoying. But otherwise: amazing classic, really enjoyed it!

Unit 4: Mary Shelley
Frankenstein
Ridiculously underwhelming. It went on forever, I hated Frankenstein and the book just didn’t do anything for me.

Unit 5: Nathaniel Hawthorne & Edgar Allan Poe
Hawthorne
We had to read a few short stories (The Birthmark, Rappaccini’s Daughter, The Artist of the Beautiful, Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment). I must say… Hawthorne is definitely not my thing. I didn’t like his writing style and I didn’t like the stories.
Poe We read a few short stories and poems (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Black Cat, The Oval Portrait, The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar, The Bells, The Raven, Annabel Lee). I have fallen in love with Poe. His way of storytelling is amazing. I enjoyed everything we had to read, but especially The Black Cat, The Bells and The Raven. Hopefully I can finish Tales of Suspense (a collection of short stories) soon!

Unit 6: H.G. Wells
The Island of Dr Moreau
Meh.
The Invisible Man Alright.
The Country of the Blind LOVED this short story.
The Star Short but pretty good.

Unit 7: Edgar Rice Burroughs & Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Burroughs – A Princess of Mars Big. Fat. Ugh. I know I should have read and judged it for what it is: a science fiction pulp classic. But I just can’t make myself appreciate this in any way.

Gilman – Herland Ohh this was pretty clever. A utopia with only women, but you can read this in a billion different ways and I really liked it (although it got slightly tedious and overly philosophical near the end). I enjoyed it so much I picked up Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper right afterwards and I loved that even more (very short story, highly recommended!)

Unit 8: Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. It’s absolutely brilliant and clever and entertaining and a little bit sad. Basically you can read this two ways: as a collection of short stories (that were published separately), or as chronological events happening in the same universe. Did I mention it’s brilliant?

So yes, I skipped The Left Hand of Darkness and Little Brother. Hopefully I’ll pick them up in the future!

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