New sci-fi class continues genre’s mainstream momentum

Helen Law

Science Fiction, once little more than a fringe genre, has gained such an expansive audience within the past two decades that Bearden High School has this year dedicated an entire class to the topic. Mrs. Autumn Suranofsky, who is teaching the class, describes herself as a big fan of the category, and is eager to start her newly-designed, entirely unique curriculum. “We are currently reading The Time Machine by H.G wells,” Mrs. Suranofsky said. “The class goes chronologically, so we started with Jules Verne and H.G wells talking about the Industrial Period and we’ll go all the way up to the 20 th , 21 st century.” Other books will include classics like The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, to recently published, new-age, young adult novels like M.T. Anderson’s Feed . The term sci-fi immediately conjures up imagery of cheesy action scenes; extravagant, sleek futuristic spaceships; and chrome rayguns spewing bright neon streaks. Yet the category is blanketing and expansive, with many sub genres like “steampunk” and “cyberpunk”. Steampunk, defined by online fans, is fiction taking place in the Victorian era with disproportionately advanced industrial machinery themes. Cyberpunk is similar, except it takes place in the future and the plot is usually centered around highly developed, fantastic technology. “We have lots of ‘soft’ genres,” Mrs. Suranofsky said. “Right now, steam punk is really popular in the media. “If you know any of the Sherlock Holmes movies, you know can see that they are very steam-punky.” Many of the novels and short stories Mrs. Suranofsky’s class will read deal with social and political changes inspired by history and thus have deep, thought-provoking plots. People may not realize that some of their favorite movies can be classified as sci-fi. The vast genre can encompass everything from Wall-E to Robocop to Jurassic Park . Thanks to those and similar Hollywood productions, sci-fi has become an ever-more serious movie genre. As a result, a majority of people have at least one sci-fi movie they adore. “I think that for a while now [sci-fi] was something that wasn’t considered to be very popular,” Mrs. Suranofsky said. “You know, if you liked science fiction you were a nerd. “But more and more, especially with the onslaught of comic book movies that are coming out it’s more acceptable to be a geek.” Helen Law is at staff writer for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter@BeardenBARK and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.