Skip to Main Content

SWOSU Library Blog

Five Great Sci-Fi Books Worth Talking About

by Jon Woltz on 2024-01-19T18:07:00-06:00 | 0 Comments

Let's Talk About ItSWOSU Hosts Oklahoma Humanities “Let’s Talk About It” Book Talk Series

The Al Harris Library and the SWOSU Department of Language and Literature are hosting a series of book talks featuring five groundbreaking science fiction novels by women. The theme of the series is "Speculative Women, Future Bodies." The first event is on January 25 at 7:00pm at the Al Harris Library in the Instruction Room on the 2nd floor.

Dr. Kelley Logan will kick the series off with a talk on The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. A book discussion will follow. Future series talks will focus on The Female Man (2/8), The Parable of the Sower (2/22), Binti (3/7), and Ms. Marvel: No Normal (3/28).

The book talks are open to everyone: students, employees, and members of the public. If you'd like to borrow The Left Hand of Darkness or any of the other titles in the series, you can borrow copies at the Al Harris Library's front desk. A SWOSU ID or library card is not required.

The program is made possible by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities with generous funding and support from Kirkpatrick Family Fund, McCasland Foundation, Oklahoma City Community Foundation, Union Pacific, and Oklahoma City University.

 The Five Books and When We'll Be Talking About Them

Join us -- everyone is welcome! All talks start at 7:00 pm in the Al Harris Library’s 2nd floor instruction room.

The Left Hand of Darkness cover imageThursday, Jan. 25: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Hosted by Dr. Kelley Logan, Professor of English at SWOSU

About this book: Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants' gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters …

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

The Female Man cover imageThursday, Feb. 8: The Female Man by Joanna Russ

Hosted by Dr. Sunu Kodumthara, Associate Professor of History at SWOSU

About this book: Four alternate selves from radically different realities come together in this “dazzling” and “trailblazing work” (The Washington Post).

Widely acknowledged as Joanna Russ’s masterpiece, The Female Man is the suspenseful, surprising, darkly witty, and boldly subversive chronicle of what happens when Jeannine, Janet, Joanna, and Jael — all living in parallel worlds — meet. Librarian Jeannine is waiting for marriage in a past where the Depression never ended, Janet lives on a utopian Earth with an all-female population, Joanna is a feminist in the 1970s, and Jael is a warrior with claws and teeth on an Earth where male and female societies are at war with each other. When the four women begin traveling to one another’s worlds, their preconceptions on gender and identity are forever challenged.

Parable of the Sower cover imageThursday, Feb. 22: Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Hosted by Dr. Tracy Floreani, Professor of English at Oklahoma City University

About this book: When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions.

Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith … and a startling vision of human destiny.

Binti cover imageThursday, March 7: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Hosted by Dr. Becky Bruce, Associate Professor of History at SWOSU

About this book: Winner of the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award for Best Novella

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself — but first she has to make it there, alive.

Ms. Marvel cover imageThursday, March 28: Ms. Marvel, Vol.1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

Hosted by Dr. Marc DiPaolo, Associate Professor of English at SWOSU

About this book: Marvel Comics presents the all-new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation!

Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City - until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she's comin' for you, New York!

Dr. Marc DiPaolo on "Speculative Women, Future Bodies"

As this theme will demonstrate, science fiction can challenge many “universal truths” about modern society by being a vehicle for women writers and readers to re-imagine their place in society. This theme traces many such futures through pivotal works from the 70’s to more modern works that continue to confront our collective past.

“When I was growing up, I learned to love reading, science fiction, and strong women by reading Wonder Woman comic books,” said Marc DiPaolo, Associate Professor of English at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, and co-founder of the new SWOSU chapter of Let’s Talk About It. “In general, science fiction by and about strong women taught me at an early age to embrace justice, compassion, imagination, and intelligence. The books we will be reading in this series had a similar effect on me when I read them as an adult. That is why I want to share these brilliant, powerful, and exciting novels and comics with my friends and neighbors in Weatherford. I hope those who participate in this series by reading the books and/or coming to the talks will get out of these books at least some of the joy and inspiration they have given me.”

For additional information about the series and the new LTAI chapter, contact Dr. DiPaolo at (580) 774-3094 or email

All of the novels in the series can be borrowed from the Al Harris Library. Copies are kept at the front desk. You can borrow any of the novels and keep them during through the spring semester. For more information about the library and its services, please contact Frederic Murray, MLIS Instructional Services Librarian, Assistant Professor, and co-founder of the new SWOSU chapter of Let’s Talk About It at (580)774-7113 or email

About Oklahoma Humanities

Oklahoma Humanities (OH) is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen communities by helping Oklahomans learn about the human experience, understand new perspectives, and participate knowledgeably in civic life. As the state partner for the National Endowment for the Humanities, OH is a grant-making organization that provides a free educational magazine, Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibits, reading and discussion groups, and other cultural opportunities. OH engages people in their own communities, stimulating discussion and helping them explore the wider world of human experience.

Disclaimer: Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in these programs do not necessarily represent those of Oklahoma Humanities or SWOSU.

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.


  Follow Us

  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.