This year I have read a few YA science fiction novels that I have really loved (particularly Zenn Scarlett by Christian Schoon) and it got me thinking about how much it is rejected as a genre. I used to be one of the ones that turned my nose up at it more often than not, but as I’ve got older I have realised I actually quite like it.
With this in mind I had a quick browse on the internet to see if anyone had put together a Sci-Fi Reading List for teens & young adults – to introduce them to the genre without scaring them off and hopefully showing them the variety that the genre contains.
In this hunt I stumbled across David Brin’s blog, Contrary Brin, and his recommendation list for young adults. It was quite a long list so I randomly picked out 12 titles to focus on – the ones I have read and ones I would like to read.
1. The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams – I have read this one at least twice and love it. Easily accessible as a teen and still satifying as an adult, this is a brilliant example of how science fiction can be combined with comedy to great success. I know a few people who claimed to hate sci-fi but loved this book – proof that it is great for breaking down the ‘I hate sci-fi’ barrier.
2. Orbital Resonance by John Barnes– I haven’t read this one but having just completed and loved Rosemary Smith’s Emerald the idea of a 13 year old female protagonist appeals. Having the main character this age definitely makes a book more appealing to the teen and YA audience (and me, too!)
3. Dinosaur Summer by Greg Bear – Written as a sequel to Conan Doyle’s The Lost World this appeals to me because I’m a bit of a dinosaur nut, as I have been since I was younger. Dinosaurs are always a winner and having read The Lost World as a teen I’d quite like to give this one a go too.
4. The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester – This book appeals to me because of the idea of the Espers creating a world without murder. Presumably their ability to telepathically read minds means they can prevent such crimes before they are committed, every time. The novel follows a character intending to commit murder which I imagine is a very intriguing and exciting viewpoint.
5. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – This book is a good one for drawing in new readers of science fiction, what with the film being released in November. There is nothing quite like a film to encourage people to pick up books. I’d quite like to give this one a go some time too, preferably before I see the movie.
6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – Again, the fact that this has been made into a film makes it more accessible to new readers. That aside, the teenage protagonists and the easy-reading nature of the story (despite the harsh storyline) makes it a great start point for the genre.
7. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick – I read this last year having watched Blade Runner at university when studying a science-fiction and fantasy module and not understanding it at all. I hoped that reading the book (which has the best title ever) would explain my confusion (What was the unicorn for? Anyone?) – It didn’t. I did enjoy the book in the end but it took a long while to get into and it was all a little bizarre. Not sure I would pick this as one to introduce new readers to the genre, despite the film.
9. The Stainless Steel Rat (Series) by Harry Harrison – I want to read this series just for the title alone.
10. Dune by Frank Herbert – No science fiction list would be complete without this on it. Possibly the best-selling science fiction of all time, the reputation that travels before this book is almost enough to make anyone want to read it. Apart from me, because, oddly I’ve just never fancied it, despite the hype.
11. The Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula Le Guin – I read these when I was about 13 and although I have no idea what happened I do know that I loved them. A crossover trilogy between science fiction and fantasy it is a great way of encouraging readers of one genre into the other (or introducing someone to both at once!)
12. Emergence by David R. Palmer – This one sounds like a good one for all those teenagers with a love for the Fallout franchise of games. Set in the aftermath of a Bionuclear war, it follows a young girl across America as she realises she is part of the next generation of human evolution. I really want to read this one having read the blurb – out of all the books on the list, this one excites me the most.
How about you? Have you read any/many of these? What do you think of science fiction on the whole and would you be willing to pick any of these up and give them a try?