Date of Award

Fall 12-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)





Committee Chair

Steven Barthelme

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Andrew Milward

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Charles Sumner

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Martina Sciolino

Committee Member 4 Department



These stories explore a universe populated by the stuff of space opera—enormous space stations, mysterious alien artifacts, starships and terraforming and emission nebulae, a human civilization that over millennia has spread across the galaxy. These explorations are not conducted by the usual swashbuckling heroes of space opera, however, but rather by the sorts of people who would have to live and make a living in such a future.

The perspectives from which this future is explored include those of an asteroid miner who loses his ship even as he is discovering the wonders of art, a man whose misuse of neurological technology has robbed him of his memories but left him with skills and capabilities that he might prefer not to have, an innocent apprentice commercial attaché who comes face to face with a terrible decision that offers the solution to a banal contractual dispute, a planetary engineer turned con artist who is at the end of his life offered the opportunity to finally become what he had dreamed of being in his youth, and a young contract lawyer who discovers that the letter of the law is far less clear-cut than her studies had led her to believe.

These stories are explorations, not only of this future and the characters who live there, but also of science fiction as a genre and the creative process by which such a future as is depicted here gets created, or explored, or discovered.