Tech and Ethics Short Story Club

Using science fiction to explore real world issues

A monthly short story discussion group

science fiction city made out of dots
Six people gathered around a conference table discussing

The Club

The short story book club is a casual but powerful opportunity, primarily for students, to engage with the many themes and ideas presented in science fiction. Short stories were selected instead of full novels to accommodate the busy schedule of students and make it an easy decision to attend on the fly. Sessions include some guided questions for discussion, but will encourage free discussion of the stoies or other posted materials.

“Ethics and law, while deeply fascinating to some, come off as dry and boring to many of my peers. Like a child’s tasty smoothie covertly enriched with nutritious vegetables, science fiction stories in the NGTC science fiction short story club, I believe, have served as an incredibly engaging medium enabling the exploration of situations that have prompted some fascinating ethical and legal discussions. The different disciplinary perspectives of the attendees so far (i.e., business, law, ethics, & computer science), and the different levels of expertise (undergraduate & graduate students, as well as, legal and ethics experts) have been a unique asset allowing a level of comfortability in asking questions, while still getting exposed to a quality level of informed, insightful, and relevant information. The NGTC science fiction and ethics book club, lacks the feel of a rigorous class, yet each month this book club leaves me with an abundance of food for thought in line with concerns at the intersection of society and emerging technologies.” - Colton Harper, President of Broader Considerations of Technology and computer science PhD student

Get Involved

The club is open to all University of Nebraska students, faculty, and staff. Meetings last an hour and are held in the "B1G Ten Room" in the City Campus Union at 6:30 PM.

Drop-in attendance is always welcome, but signing up is encouraged for reminders and weather cancellation information. Sign up here.

2021-2022 Reading

Tuesday, Sept 7th - “The Machine Stops” Full Text LinkAlternate Full Text Link - E.M. Forster - written in 1909 it describes a world where the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the earth and each person has all their bodily and spiritual needs met by an omnipotent global machine. Optional "Further Reading" for this story.

Tuesday, October 5 - “The Dead Past” Full Text Link  - Isaac Asimov - This story questions of the ethics of government direction and oversight of the parameters of scientific endeavor.

Tuesday, November 2nd - “Rustys” Full Text Link - Nnedi Okorafor - in a future Kinhasa, we see a dystopian post-colonial tech future filled with urban decay; a portrait not unsimilar to the present central african megacity, with themes of intercultural mob violence and the parameters of “artificial” intelligence. 

Tuesday, December 7th - “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” Full Text Link - Rebecca Roanhorse - When a Native American man finds work selling "Tourists" an "authentic Indian experience" in this Hugo and Nebula award wining story, the lines of the man and the product begin to blur - with an interesting twist.

Tuesday, March 22nd: “‘Understand” Full Text Link  - Ted Chiang - A story about the gradual effects of an experimental drug that inadvertently creates superintelligence in a man, and the evolving effects of that enhancement on his view of humanity. 

Tuesday, April 12th: “‘In Xanadu” Full Text Link  - Lavie Tidhar - A story that takes place in a future world in which sentient artificial intelligence coexists with humanity in an unusual power balance, in a context that spans our planetary system.