Tochi Onyebuchi

BA, Yale University. MFA, New York University, Tisch School of the Arts. JD, Columbia Law School. Author of Beasts Made of Night, Crown of Thunder, War Girls, and the novella Riot Baby. Onyebuchi’s short fiction has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Omenana, and Asimov’s Science Fiction, among other places, and has been anthologized in Apex Book of World SF 5 and Panverse Three. His essays have appeared in, Uncanny Magazine, and the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy. Winner of the Ilube Nommo Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel by an African. SLC, 2020–

Previous Courses

Speculative-Fiction Craft: The Novella in Speculative Fiction


Despite classics such as Orwell’s Animal Farm and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, the novella has long proven to be an unwieldy format. Shorter than the novel but more complicated than a short story, Stephen King once called the novella “an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic.” Falling between 17,500 and 40,000 words, the market has long proven resistant to these stories. But the novella offers unique opportunities: extensive worldbuilding and deeper, more complex character relations, all while sidestepping the risk of longueur that hangs over the novel. Additionally, the form has played host to no shortage of structural innovations. In this class, students will study the novella as it occurs in science fiction and fantasy, ranging from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to contemporary fare like Ken Liu’s The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary. Additionally, students will be encouraged to produce the beginnings of a work of original fiction intended for a length between 17,500 and 40,000 words. Reading List: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang, Great Work of Time by John Crowley, Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson, The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe, Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary by Ken Liu, The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang