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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Critical Thinking: Talkin' 'bout my e-du-ca-see-on...

A do-it-yourself column.

A while back, a friend’s daughter interviewed me for a career-day paper. She wants to be a writer. One of the questions was regarding higher education. I told her that if you want to be a genre writer, get a degree that speaks to the genre. You don’t need a MFA to write sci fi, but a background in science might help. Knowledge about criminal justice is important for crime thrillers. High fantasy writers who know nothing about horses are in trouble.

That made me start thinking about real science fiction writers and their education. So I looked it up. Below is a sampling—with some military experience thrown in. What correlations do you see about the type of education your favs had and the style of writing? Is higher education essential for specific types of SF, or can you self-study your way into it? How has your education informed your writing? If you could go back to school for anything, what would it be?

Elizabeth Moon:
Rice University – BA History
BA Biology

Robert Heinlein

Ben Bova
BA Journalism
MA Communications
Doctorate Education

Spider Robinson
BA English

Douglas Adams
BA English Lit

Isaac Asimov
PhD Biochemistry
Army (drafted)

Arthur C Clarke
Royal Air Force
First-Class Degree mathematics and physics

Anne McCaffrey
BA Slavonic languages and literature

Madeleine L’Engle
BA English cum laude

Frank Herbert
Attended college but didn’t graduate

David Brin
BS Astrophysics
Masters Electrical Engineering
PhD Space Physics
Post Doc Fellow Cali. Space Inst.

Jules Verne
Law degree

Ursula Le Guin
BA French
MA Romance Languages

Orson Scott Card
Bachelors, masters, and doctorate, but I can’t find what in

Ray Bradbury
No college
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