New Class!
Online: Zoom

Sci-Fi Study Hall: First Contact Stories

6 Mondays from 6:00pm-9:00pm (EST), starting April 3rd.
Online: Zoom
See Map
Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
13 seats max

The first attempt at communication. The first attack. The first moment of understanding that the boundaries of reality have changed. From The War of the Worlds to NOPE, the first contact story is a mainstay of science fiction, a theme continuously holds our fascination with its anthropological, social, colonial, and scientific implications. What endless possibilities exist when humanity contacts unknown sentient life for the first time? How have visions of first contact changed over time, and how are writers and story-creators still reimagining the genre today? How do first contact stories engage with visions of colonization, power struggles, and cultural exchange in our own human history?

We’ll read literary examples that offer widely different visions of first contact; authors may include Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Ray Bradbury, Nnedi Okorafor, and others. We’ll also discuss examples of first contact in television and film; examples may include Star Trek, Doctor Who, Contact, the Alien franchise, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and others. We’ll explore narrative patterns that exist in first contact stories and use them as a springboard for our own original visions. Every lesson will include readings and examples grouped under specific themes, as well as generative weekly prompts that will open our imaginations and lay the groundwork for stories. A light workshop schedule will allow writers to receive feedback on one story they choose to develop.

Writers can expect to leave class with multiple story drafts and ideas, and at least one story that they’ve started to develop on a deeper level.

Please note: Class will not meet on April 17th.

Class Format

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Sara Daniele Rivera
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Supportive Environment"
  • "High-Energy Class"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Generate New Work
  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Workshop


  • The Novel
  • Short Fiction

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