Sul Ross Eagle Pass Professor Offers Evening of SciFi

I’m Dr. Audrey Taylor, new Assistant Professor of English, based at the Eagle Pass campus. On December 3rd I gave a talk entitled “Science Fiction as Fantasy: Anne McCaffrey’s Space Dragons” to a small group of students, faculty, and community members from Uvalde, with Del Rio and Eagle Pass tuning in via teleconference. In my talk to the Rio Grande college campus’ I gave brief overviews of science fiction and fantasy, going through some definitions and problems with definitions, before examining Anne McCaffrey’s famous dragons in that context.

McCaffrey herself was adamant that she was a science fiction author, but the public at large, and many of her fans, consider her a fantasy writer because of the dragons in her books, as well as other cues like primitive technology, and often the covers of the books themselves. We had a brief rundown of the history of dragons in literature generally, before looking at her specific creations, how they combined both Eastern and Western traditions, and some of the reasons that they are so famous. This was followed by a brief examination of the anthropocene (the debated term for this, perhaps human influenced, era in time), and why McCaffrey’s Pern world’s generally, and her dragons specifically, might give clues to how everyone can live and work together towards mutual benefit. This was all completed with a lively question and answer session with the audience. I hope to present other modified academic papers to SRSU and surrounds in future, so stay tuned!

Although I have taught a lot of different writing and English courses, my personal academic research focuses on genre literature like science fiction and fantasy. My first academic book, Patricia A. McKillip and the Art of Fantasy World-Building, came out in 2017. It is an analysis of critically acclaimed novelist Patricia A. McKilip’s other-worlds including her characters, environments and legends and how they interact with genre expectations. My book gives a broader understanding of world-building and enables a deeper appreciation of genre fantasies.  

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