Saturday, January 26, 2008

And What About Sci-fi For Kids?

I wonder if Clive Thompson isn't lumping science fiction with fantasy in his Wired column Clive Thompson on Why Sci-Fi Is the Last Bastion of Philosophical Writing. He says, "Teenagers love to ponder such massive, brain-shaking concepts, which is precisely why they devour novels like Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials, the Narnia series, the Harry Potter books, and Ender's Game. They know that big-idea novels are more likely to have an embossed foil dragon on the cover than a Booker Prize badge." I'm not going to dispute his basic argument, but "an embossed foil dragon" usually says fantasy to me, not science fiction.

Now, students, after you've read Mr. Thompson's column, think about how his theory that "Science fiction is the last great literature of ideas" applies to children's literature. Is there all that much science fiction being written for children these days? Or is it primarily fantasy? And should those two genres be lumped together?

4 comments:

Little Willow said...

Some books blend sci-fi and fantasy, and others are solidly (or lean heavily towards) one or the other. The Secret Under My Skin, the Uglies sequence, etc: sci-fi.

gail said...

I'm not family with The Secret Under My Skin, but I think you're right about the Uglies sequence. That does seem to be real sci-fi.

gail said...

Ah...I meant I wasn't familiar with The Secret Under My Skin.

Imani said...

Of all the books he listed as Sci fi the only the only one solidly SF is "Ender's Game"; and some winsome SF fans yearning for a great SF kids book (I guess) try to argue for the Pullman trilogy but few take that position seriously.

I think the article was daft from start to finish, and more or less engaged with the sort of simple-minded (unsupported) criticism of "literary fiction" (which he didn't even bother to define) that others train at SF (it's just aliens and robots shooting guns)! And, curiously, he forgets all about SF romances.