October 2, 2016

Slice of PIE: The OTHER Characters of YA Speculative Fiction!

Using the panel discussions of the most recent World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City in August 2016 (to which I was invited and had a friend pay my membership! [Thanks, Paul!] but was unable to go (until I retire from education)), I will jump off, jump on, rail against, and shamelessly agree with the BRIEF DESCRIPTION given in the pdf copy of the Program Guide. This is event #2114. The link is provided below…

Great Characters in Young Adult Fiction: Good characterization—is the process different when writing teen vs adult characters? Who are our favorite characters in YA fiction, and which are new or overlooked. Mr. Peadar Ó Guilin, Mark Oshiro, Sunil Patel, Fonda Lee, Chelsea Mueller (M)

Mr. Peadar Ó Guilin – well published in YA!

Mark Oshiro – I confess I don’t actually understand what he does, but it LOOKS fascinating and he does…read YA.

Sunil Patel – a prolific writer who I follow through an online writers group that I frequent, CODEX. Lots of stuff, some of it YA.

Fonda Lee – I’ve been following her since she sent me a copy of her first book, ZEROBOXER, which I reviewed then donated to my HS library (where it’s currently on display as a “Book of the Week”!

Chelsea Mueller (M) – deeply involved with YA lit.

So – this was probably a spectacular discussion. More so because they weren’t trying to figure our YA fantasy and SF, rather they were working on presenting characters that have been typically overlooked.

While I am sure Ender Wiggins was mentioned, as well as Harry Potter, I have a feeling there were OTHER characters who (finally) made their way into the public eye.

Perhaps my best example of a rarely mentioned YA character is Mile Vorkosigan. The hero of numerous novels in the series bearing his name, he makes his debut as an emergency C-section pre-born infant and then a passenger in a portable uterus. His “replicator” is not only his mode of transportation for the first novel in the series, it’s also the focal point of Lois McMaster Bujold’s entire series. Be that as it may, THE WARRIOR’S APPRENTICE showcases a brilliant Miles when he’s seventeen.

It’s not marketed as YA, but I think that’s a crime. It would serve as a leap into the entire series and the thought-provoking books that Bujold writes.

Another long-lost hero? Meg Murry from A WRINKLE IN TIME. Lucy Pevensie from THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE. Aryl Sarc, from REAP THE WIND (Julie Czerneda); Lessa, golden queen rider of Pern and Menolloy, fire lizard master of the same world…

How about Podkayne of Mars and Kip Russel of HAVE SPACESUIT, WILL TRAVEL? Then Will Parker, accidental hero of the rebellion against The Masters in THE WHITE MOUNTAINS; and Tom Natworthy and Hester Shaw in THE MORTAL ENGINES quartet.

More recently, you have artist June Costa and the Summer Prince, Enki in the book of the same name, as well as Tally Youngblood in UGLIES.

There ARE spectacular heroes in YA science fiction and fantasy. LOTS of them. I personally think it’s high time we leave Harry and Katniss and Beatrice Prior and Thomas and all the others who have made it to the silver screen – and aim back at the SOURCE of those heroes, which is the written word.

I’m pretty sure that some of the choices for hero I made it into the discussion!

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