Taner Edis

The Algebraist Discussions

To each class devoted to discussions based on The Algebraist, you should bring the book, plus a short list of brief questions or comments.

I may randomly ask you to provide a question or comment for discussion by the class, and when I do so, I will ask a volunteer to record your question. These questions will be the basis for the two quizzes I will give you based on The Algebraist, will affect your class participation grade, and will also appear on the final—so please participate in the discussions!

The question topics can include:

  • On physics: Physics and astronomy questions that arise in the course of your reading.
  • On other science issues: Artificial intelligence, possible biologies of alien creastures, etc. etc.
  • On science as an institution: The Algebraist has an interesting portrayal of how science might work in the future. You can ask questions about this, the institutions of science, and how science is actually done.
  • On social concerns: You may get to thinking about how science interacts with social concerns, such as war, or ask how to justify the money spent on research…
  • On literature: Science fiction is meant to be literature, good or bad. So you can ask questions about science fiction as a form of storytelling, of speculative fiction, even as art.

Note that you don’t have to tie each question to something specific in the novel—The Algebraist is just there to get you thinking; it’s okay to go beyond it.

Reading schedule

The book comes in 6 chapters plus a short prologue and epilogue. Read the assigned parts before the date indicated. It’s a novel: it reads quickly.

Date Chapters
November 10 1
November 12 2
November 17 3 & quiz
November 19 4 & 5
November 24 6 & quiz

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