io9 has a list of six “Pre-Potter” novels that might hook young readers on science fiction. It’s a nice sampling of classic authors, and it’s hard to fault their choices.
They mention one Heinlein juvie (The Rolling Stones), although I think I’d probably choose something like Have Space Suit, Will Travel or Red Mars Planet instead. I can’t argue with the Madeleine L’Engle selection; if pressed to name the YA novel that hooked the most kids on SF, A Wrinkle in Time is probably the one I’d mention.
What do you think? Are there any YA books that have been glaringly omitted from this list?
Over at the Futurismic blog, Blasphemous Geometries has an essay exploring the arbitrariness of defining a work as “science fiction” (and also of defining an SF work as belonging to a particular subgenre). His argument is that we shouldn’t try to do either: If somebody points to something and calls it science fiction, then by gum it’s science fiction.
In other words, Roberts and the Clarke Award do not give us a definition of SF. Instead, they simply point at works that interest them and say “this is SF”, inviting us to consider these works not as an attempt to encapsulate and define a genre, but rather as interesting ways of thinking about a genre whose limits are ultimately arbitrary.
I’m not entirely thrilled with the idea. We already have trouble with “fantasy” encroaching on SF in bookstores; anything that blurs the distinction any further means having to wade through more elves to get to the rivets.
What do you think? Is it impossible to have even fuzzy guidelines about what qualifies as science fiction?
Michael at Vivtek was thinking about the accelerating time just before the Singularity, when all kinds of weird stuff is occurring. He realized that it would be a perfect environment for folk tales, so he’s writing some. So far he’s got “Bruce Schneier and the King of the Crabs,” “Lord Cthulhu Walks the Desert,” and “Paul Bunyan and the Spambot.”
Naturally, just getting Paul Bunyan online was already no mean feat. There was no broadband available in the remote areas of the woods where they’d been working, so the first thing he had to do was string optical cable from the nearest T1 line, which was clear down in St. Paul. For anybody but Paul Bunyan, that would have been near impossible, but ol’ Paul just ordered a couple flatbeds of the finest glass windows Minnesota had to offer, chewed ’em all up in a single mouthful, and drew ’em out between his teeth to spin three hundred miles of perfect fiber optics. Then he just coiled it all up in a loop, and walked all the way into town, stringing that cable all the way. So getting online wasn’t a real problem.
No, the real problem was using a computer built to the scale of a normal man! To Paul, the biggest font available was like microfiche, and he’d never been fond of reading much but lumber futures, anyway. And the largest screen they could find was no better than an old Nokia mobile phone for Paul.
This is definitely a theme that is ripe for expansion. “Pecos Bill vs. the Wunch,” “Casey Jones and the Fermi Paradox….”
The current six live probes are sending back thousands of images of the surface, but there are only a few showing atmospheric phenomena. Boston.com has a collection of some of the best images, including some cool animations created by stringing together several still photos. Watching a Martian dust devil scoot in front of the camera is oddly satisfying.
“The ‘Net is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it.”
— William Gibson
“Instead, they celebrate the pan-denominational Wookiee Life Day, which isn’t as much celebrated by Star Wars fans around this time of year as it is observed, like the anniversary of an atrocity.”
— SciFi Scanner, about the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special