Tag Archives: Science fiction

Session #31: September 22nd, 2010

First edition cover
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In this session, we will finish answering the questions about “Out of the Silent Planet”, and begin reading the second book in this science fiction trilogy, Perelandra.  This story deals with several important matters regarding Christianity. Reading this story is a good way to learn about Christian values.

Anyone is welcome. In fact, as we will be starting a new book today, this session would be a good time to join or re-join our informal reading group. I will bring photocopies of the first chapter of Perelandra, for those who do not have their own copy of the book. (I will also bring extra copies of the worksheets for “Out of the Silent Planet“.)

I will bring worksheets for “Perelandra”. You will read the novel at home, in your own time. The worksheets are not compulsory, but I recommend them. The questions will help you

  • focus on the key points of the text,
  • get more out of reading the story.

We will discuss the novel in the next two or three sessions by discussing our answers to the worksheets. To answer some of these questions, you will need a Bible. A Japanese Bible should be sufficient. (The language in the English Bible, although beautiful, is very difficult, and should only be attempted by advanced learners of English.)

As always, the discussions will be in English, and in our sessions I will refer to the English version of the book (I will be using this paperback edition). However, it is perfectly ok to read the book  in Japanese. In fact, I encourage you to do so.

  1. Reading the book in Japanese only is better than not reading the book at all.
  2. Reading the book (any book) in both Japanese AND English is perhaps THE most powerful language-learning method of all.
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Session #27: June 9th, 2010

Soviet stamp, part of a 1967 series depicting ...
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First of all, a very big thank you to all of you who attended today. I know some members have suffered personal bereavements, and for that reason some were unable to attend today. My thoughts go to them.

Today, we read almost all of chapter 1 of C.S. Lewis‘ science-fiction story Out of the Silent Planet. It is a more challenging story than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It is aimed at adults. However, I hope for these reasons it will also prove to be a more satisfying read.

The homework is to finish reading chapter 1, and also read chapters 2 and 3 before the next session, June 23rd. I would prefer not to spend much time actually reading the text in future sessions, and instead to spend more time talking about questions that you have and discussing the themes of the story.  The questions and difficulties that you have about the text always surprise me. That is one reason I enjoy our sessions together.

Feel free to write comments here about chapter 1-3 even before next session.

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Session #28: June 23rd, 2010

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We had a good turnout today, despite the heavy rain in the morning. A big thank-you to all of you who attended today.

First, we discussed about the definition of science fiction, and the difference between science fiction and fantasy. We also talked about Lewis’ own ideas on science fiction. You can read more about his ideas in the essay “On Science Fiction” in “Of Other Worlds“. (I also recommend the first essay, “On Stories”.)

Then we discussed chapters 1-3.

  1. What do we learn about Ransom’s character?
  2. What do we learn about Devine and Weston?
  3. What is “social Darwinism“?
  4. What does Weston think of Harry and why?
  5. Why does Ransom ignore Weston’s “barefaced lie”?
  6. Why does C.S. Lewis put Ransom out in space?

The next session will be July 14th, and that will be our last session before the summer. There will be no sessions in August. We will meet again in September.

Finally, here’s C.S.  Lewis writing about fairy tales, but I think what he says is also relevant to science fiction ( I posted this earlier, too):

“It goes beyond the expression of things we have already felt. It arouses in us sensations we have never had before, never anticipated having, as though we had broken out of our normal mode of consciousness and “possessed joys not promised to our birth.”  It gets under our skin, hits us at a level deeper than our thoughts or even our passions, troubles oldest certainties till all questions are reopened, and in general shocks us more fully awake that we are for most of our lives.”

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Session #26 (May 26th) report. Sessions 27 and 28

Yesterday’s session (#26) was the last one on C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. At the end of the session, I proposed our next book: C.S. Lewis’ science fiction story for adults, “Out of the Silent Planet”. This is not a long book, but it is more challenging.

At the end of yesterday’s session, we received a visit from a number of interested people. Perhaps some of them will join us for the next session.

If you did not attend recent sessions of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, you are warmly welcome to re-join us for the new book (if this book does not interest you, why not send me an email with your requests). It is quite ok to “drop out” when we are reading a book you are not interested in, and to “drop back in” later.

There is no homework for the next session. We will begin reading the book in the next session. After that, I will follow the same pattern as before: homework will be reading a few chapters, and in the sessions we will discuss the meaning, ask questions, and talk about what interests us about the book.

The next sessions in June will be:

June 9th,

June 23rd.

We had an interesting discussion about fairy-stories compared with myths and traditional tales. Thank you very much to all of you who attended.

I mentioned a seminal essay by Lewis’ close friend and fellow-Oxford don, J.R.R. Tolkien, titled On Fairy Stories. Yoko Okuda told me the Japanese title, and using Google I found this Japanese article about it. If you are interested and have time to read it, please give me your opinion. I’m looking for online resources related to C.S. Lewis and fairy-tales to suggest to my students as secondary reading materials. Is this suitable/interesting/useful for university students (English majors), do you think?

(It includes several links for further reading, all in Japanese)

Here is Lewis talking about the fairy-tale. He is writing about some fairy-tales that he had read (written by George MacDonald), but I think he is also describing an effect he wished to create in the readers of his own stories:

“It goes beyond the expression of things we have already felt. It arouses in us sensations we have never had before, never anticipated having, as though we had broken out of our normal mode of consciousness and “possessed joys not promised to our birth.”  It gets under our skin, hits us at a level deeper than our thoughts or even our passions, troubles oldest certainties till all questions are reopened, and in general shocks us more fully awake that we are for most of our lives.”

Now that you have finished the book, how about taking an online quiz, to test your knowledge!

Here is a quiz I found:

http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/lion/quiz.html

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