So there’s this notion that comes up at pretty much every convention I go to with a YA panel (and which has also come up in the comments to this post) that’s beginning to truly frustrate me, and that I think needs more than the comments section of the post to address. And that notion is:
Teens are not reading (and publishers are not publishing) young adult science fiction.
This seems to be a misperception among those who read adult science fiction in particular. (And I am talking about science fiction here, not fantasy, because thanks to J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer it’s hard not to be aware teens read fantasy.) I’ve had countless conversations with people who bemoan the lack of science fiction for young people. In many of these conversations, it comes out that the people I’m talking to are aware of the YA written by Scalzi, Doctorow, and maybe Westerfeld (all excellent writers, yes), but have this notion that … that’s pretty much it.
I don’t know, but I think the problem may be that for the most part, adult (meaning, adult-the-genre) SF readers tend to have a sort of tunnel vision about YA SF, and only see those books published by the YA imprints of dedicated SF/fantasy lines (as well as seeing only books published by YA SF writers who also write for adults). When most of the YA SF out there is in fact published by the YA imprints of mainstream houses. That’s a function of the way the YA genre markets itself–mysteries and romances and SF and fantasy and sometimes graphic novels all hang out side by side. In other words, to find the YA SF, we can’t only look to SF/fantasy publishers. (Excellent, again, as some of the books by these publishers are.)
So can we please, please, please put this notion that there is no YA SF and that teens don’t read it to rest? Please?
Because I’m getting really tired of having this discussion.
– Feed by M.T. Anderson
– Spacer and Rat by Margaret Bechard
– The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
– The City of Ember and sequels by Jeanne DuPrau
– The Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix
– Siberia by Ann Halam
– Taylor Five by Ann Halam
– Rash by Pete Hautman
– The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
– The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
– Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
– The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
– Unwind by Neal Shusterman
There are others, of course. Some of these books are bestsellers. Some of them are bestsellers that outsell the books in the adult SF/fantasy section. Some of them are award-winners, too.
The knowledge of these books is neither secret nor hidden.
So can we stop having the “why is there no YA SF?” discussion, and move on to having discussions about the YA SF that’s being published these days–discussions of its trends and strengths and weaknesses and what we all do and don’t like about it?
Because that just sounds way more interesting, to me.