So it came to pass that my time as a professor of science fiction writing for the University of Iowa ended. Today my students had their final workshop of the semester. And, as I’ve done three times before, I sent them into the future with a companion. Here is my last class, robots at the ready.
When I arrived at Iowa for graduate school it was with an appointment in the Rhetoric department. At the time it was unclear if I was ever going to get to teach fiction, let alone genre fiction, which had never been a dedicated course here before. But I was fortunate enough my second year to get a fellowship that came with two semesters of Fiction Writing. I did one as a science fiction course and one as a fantasy course, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. So much so that the University accepted my proposal for a science fiction writing class based on the curriculum I’d designed, and the Writers’ Workshop hired me to teach it. It’s been a wonderful, rewarding two years of sharing my passions with engaged and eager students. Even at my lowest during these years I always enjoyed going to teach my classes. I’m ready to move on, but I’m really going to miss doing this.
Fortunately for the students of the University of Iowa, the class isn’t going away. It has been so successful that the Writers’ Workshop is keeping it around for next year. It will be taught by Van Choojitarom, a brilliant science fiction writer and friend, who would have been my own choice to take over for me if I’d had a say. I’ve shared all my materials with him, and know that he’ll bring the same enthusiasm to the course that I did. I also know that he’ll find ways to make it inimitably his own, and that the students will be better off for it. While many of the specialty writing courses in the catalogue are just jobs for their instructors, Writing and Reading Science Fiction, for another year at least, will continue to be a labor of love.
It’s a point of great pride that I’ve been able to create something here that will last after I’m gone. I’m very grateful to the Writers’ Workshop and the University of Iowa for believing in me enough to give me the chance to try.