I awoke this morning to the calming sound of a light pattering against the bedroom window. I rose from bed, stretched and yawned, walked to the door and opened it. Little droplets of renewal, small glimmering orbs, each containing a mirrored image of the world around them, cascaded from the heavens and washed across the concrete and grass outside my house.
It was a wonderful way to start the day.
That same article links to this entry posted to John Scalzi’s blog the day before.
I know none of you have asked for my opinion on this topic and, truthfully, many of you probably do not care one way or the other, but here it is anyway:
There are many readers of science fiction/fantasy who will scoff at you if you say you read young adult books. There are many who will try to convince you that it is a foolish waste of time and, in fact, talent to read YA SF over adult SF (their argument is as such: “For every YA SF title written by an author, the literary landscape is denied a full-fledged adult SF title by that same author. Which is BAD.”). There are even those among the world who will say the recent YA movement is killing SF altogether.
These people are wrong.
If not for the YA section of some of my favorite book stores, I’d never have discovered the wonderful world of Garth Nix and his thrilling Abhorsen Trilogy. If not for delving into the YA Fantasy section of your book store, you may miss such great authors such as Lewis Carroll or C.S. Lewis, as some book stores put Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Chronicles Of Narnia in this section. Another great book often hidden away in the YA section is Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury.
And let’s not forget Harry Potter.
The notion that the world of YA SF/F is somehow damaging the world of adult SF/F is preposterous.
But look at the sales numbers, Mr. Kaas. You’ll find that in today’s market, YA SF/F is outselling adult SF/F two-to-one! You cannot argue with the numbers!
No. No, I cannot argue with the numbers. YA books are making huge numbers out there. But is that not a good thing for SF in the long run? Does that not mean that a fresh crop of unmolded minds, ready to be stretched and prodded and properly flabbergasted by truly smart science fiction is now buying books? Five or ten years from now, will these young adults not be buying adult science fiction?
I would much rather hand my twelve year old a copy of Pretties by Scott Westerfeld than the latest High School Musical book or something else aimed at his age group. True, he’s probably old enough to enjoy something like The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Universe by Douglas Adams, or maybe even The Hobbit by Tolkien, but the great thing about YA SF/F is the accessability of it all. Some great YA writers have the uncanny ability to write deep, prolific stories, that are just complex enough. They’re easy enough to understand, without being dumbed down just because it’s written for a younger audience. Plus a quick reader can probably finish the average YA book in a single afternoon of reading.
In short, I don’t believe that YA SF/F is killing adult SF/F. I don’t believe that for every YA title written by an established writer of adult titles, an adult book of even greater value is lost forever. I also don’t believe that established adult SF authors should lose any of their previously established respectability, simply for writing a YA title.
The next time you’re in the book store, stop by the YA section and take a look around. Read some book jackets, scan some of the covers and see if anything strikes your fancy. You may find some hidden gem you would have normally overlooked.