July 28, 2013

A Slice of PIE: The Future of Kids* In Space

What ABOUT books and stories with “Kids In Space” (you can do the echo effect from the old MUPPET SHOW skit, “Pigs In Space” if you’d like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reBzU8E_Ajk)?

NO! I do not mean the tired old argument that “What We Need Is To Reprint Robert A Heinlein!” No. We don’t. We need someone with a 21st Century sensibility who can write convincingly realist stories and novels about (shock!) kids in space. Say, like, the lead story in the January 2013 issue of CRICKET THE MAGAZINE FOR CHILDREN – it was called “The Penguin Whisperer” and it was about…Kids In Space! (http://www.cricketmagkids.com/new/january-2013) I know it well…because I wrote it. So in my future, kids live in space. They grow up there. They adapt as they have to any other environment to which they are exposed.

SF writers used to show that. Robert A. Heinlein’s “juvenile” books did it regularly (though no teen today would have any idea that HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL is in direct reference to the western TV show of the same name that aired from 1957-1963 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Have_Gun_%E2%80%93_Will_Travel); Andre Norton and Donald A. Wollheim did it as well. But both they and the teens they wrote for are long gone. They have little if anything to draw in 21st Century adolescents. (http://www.teenchoiceawards.com/tcnews.aspx#.UfUNnr4o5Ms) I suppose if you wrote a SF novel called SO YOU THINK YOU CAN LIVE IN SPACE...

We have the Golden Duck Award – rather than review it, I’ll just direct you to it: http://www.goldenduck.org/.

How about NEW science fiction for kids – and I’m not talking about the “fun stuff”, like STAR WARS ABCs, or THE GOLDEN COMPASS (which is, after all fantasy and does NOT take place in space, thank you very much), or even THE CITY OF EMBER (which is old...) I’m talking about new stuff, published in 2013 or 2012 and that depicts kids interacting with something off of Earth – planets, space craft, space stations, FTL, aliens, stars or other tropes of SF.

There’s the MAX THE DOG, science adventure series, by Jeffrey Bennett and Alan Akamoto .

Of course the HALO video game tie-in novels.

ENDER’S GAME and its various iterations (which, may I remind my readers, was published in the August 1977 issue of ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT as a short story – so it’s old!) – but their rebirth is because of the upcoming movie.


A BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP, by blockbuster space war author, David Weber.

BREAKING POINT and the entire line by Tor Teen including several of Cory Doctrow’s books, and the less-than-stellar-but-readable GALAHAD books.

It’s finally there – btw, I don’t count THE HUNGER GAMES or any other novel in which teenagers slaughter each other or are slaughtered without explanation or apology. I am of the personal opinion that teen dystopian futures are both bad for teens (http://www.sfwa.org/2012/07/guest-post-when-did-science-fiction-and-apocalypse-become-interchangeable/) and on the way out. They will still appear for a while as numerous books are in the works or were in the works when the trend started winding down. But in a relatively short time, they will be gone – and then we find out which ones have the staying power of Heinlein’s PODKAYNE OF MARS and Card’s ENDER’S GAME.

What will replace them?

I’d like to be someone who helps replace the grim futures depicted in GONE, THE UGLIES, LIFE AS WE KNOW IT and MAZE RUNNERS with futures in which teens will live and make positive contributions to a Human society that continues to mature...

*i.e., Birth To 17 years, 11 months, 31 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds

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