Sci-fi course teaches students the art of parallel realities

“I learn from every group of students,” says instructor

Image of Anime showing a mountain location with two suns in the sky

Anime – Photo Courtesy: Nina Munteanu

“Science fiction is my first love. I teach what I love,” says Nina Munteanu, instructor for the creating science fiction course currently offered through George Brown College (GBC) continuing studies. The course covers the major aspects of writing a science fiction novel, including premise, character, plot, world-building, use of metaphor and theme.

“My classes tend to be small, which is really wonderful. It’s great for the students,” Munteanu said.

Munteanu runs the class as a workshop and says she tailors the course to the students’ interests, making time for students to read their weekly homework aloud to classmates. “I learn from every group of students that comes through,” she said. “The students are so cool.”

Munteanu has taught the 12-week course for the past three years at GBC, and at the University of Toronto previously. The course meets weekly for three hours, and can be applied towards writing certificates offered through GBC continuing studies.

Munteanu’s inspiration to write science fiction comes from her close connection to nature, having studied biology, ecology and limnology (the study of fresh water). She also draws inspiration from other science fiction writers. “(Ray Bradbury’s) Martian Chronicles made me cry. I just thought, ‘I want to do what he’s doing. I want to write and move someone like he’s moved me,’” she explained.

“Science fiction is very much a literature of metaphor,” said Munteanu. “It talks about society. It studies people, where we’re going, and where we’ve come from through the encounter of the unknown,” she explained.

Munteanu’s enthusiasm for the subject matter is obvious. “I love teaching writing, period,” she said. Munteanu has also taught courses on a range of writing skills, including memoirs, technical writing, and resume writing.

Munteanu credits her love of the environment as further inspiration for her writing, pointing out that the theme of environmentalism runs throughout her work. This is an interest she shares with many of her students. “I’m noticing more and more that this is a prevalent theme, an underlying theme,” she said, referring to her students’ writing.

Munteanu has published , eight novels, two writing guidebooks, two nonfiction books and a collection of short stories. Munteanu’s next book, which is non-fiction, is entitled Water Is…The Meaning of Water and will be published early in 2016.

“I describe the weirdness of water. It’s magical. It’s such a unique compound,” Munteanu explained, citing 27 anomalous scientific properties, such as its ability to store information.

The creating science fiction course also benefits from Munteanu’s extensive experience with the publishing business, teaching students about the marketing and promotion of a story and how to pitch a story to an editor or agent.

Munteanu’s advice to aspiring authors is straightforward. “Believe in what you’re doing and believe in yourself. Make it original and then stick with it, even if someone else says it’s dumb or crazy.

“Find something that’s really of meaning to you, rather than following the market,” she cautioned.

The course will be offered again in the summer term, running from April to June 2016.

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Sci-fi course teaches students the art of parallel realities