by Rebekah Jensen (February 16, 2002)

I just took a peek through my precarious to-be-read-very-soon book pile, and found non-fiction books on topics from genetics to linguistics, from Carl Sandburg's poetry to writing genre novels. I also found military science fiction to Regency romance to epic fantasy. Then there is the bulk of the fiction You may turn up your nose but yes, a good portion of my reading is young adult science fiction and fantasy. I get more excited about a new Tamora Pierce than a new David Eddings, and am more likely to reread Susan Cooper than J.R.R. Tolkien.

I've had a weakness for YA SF for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, when I was finally allowed to check books out of the Adult part of the library, I gobbled up Star Trek, 70s Sci-Fi, and gothic romances, but I also always got at least one of my old favorites from the kid's side of the room. I nearly read the covers off of the library's copies of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia and Anne McCaffrey's Harper Hall Trilogy.

Not to sound like an old coot, but kids these days have it good. The YA Fantasy and Science Fiction genres are exploding, thanks in no small part to J. K. Rowling. I'm a Harry Potter fan, but I'm much more of a Rowling fan - for all the editors and booksellers and readers that she's convinced to give YA genre books a try. Lucky readers can now discover Gail Carson Levine and Patricia Wrede, Phillip Pullman and Eva Ibbotson, as well as new printings of the classics from Heinlein, Bradbury and LeGuin.

Why do I enjoy YA SF? I freely admit that part of the attraction is that the books tend to be shorter, not the dictionary-sized tomes that adult SF writers and editors are turning out these days. Yet there is a lot more to it than that. For one thing, the books tend to end happily, or at least more sweet than bitter. I enjoy angst and suffering as much as the next reader, but after slogging through a thousand pages of that, I want to see some redemption and triumph. YA authors also tend to examine more fundamental issues and aren't usually allowed to skim over moral ones. I like the characters more. They may be confused but they aren't ever true anti-heroes. If I want slimy, despicable characters that I can't identify with, I'll just pick up a Stephen R. Donaldson. And closure - I'm a big fan of closure. No YA book or series would be permitted to drag out forever like Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time Series. Even the ongoing Harry Potter books have an internal story arc within each book. When Garth Nix released book #1 in his Seventh Tower series, I knew that not only would the series have a beginning, middle, and end, but that it would end in exactly the number of books Nix said it would.

Want to know which YA books we have enjoyed? Check out the RomSF database! Every YA book that we've discussed is labelled as (YA). If you'd like to discuss our opinions, this article, or anything else about YA, go directly to this topic on our bulletin board.

Why should I be discussing this on a site dedicated to romantic SF? Isn't romantic YA an oxymoron? Not at all. Sherwood Smith's Crown & Court Duet pivots around the interaction between a man and woman on opposite sides of a civil war. Robin McKinley's BEAUTY has a romance as strong as anything shelved in the Romance section of the bookstore. One significant difference between the two types of books is that in YA books there is a minimum of sex or sexuality. I personally find this refreshing since a lot of people these days seem to believe that physical attraction equals sexual tension equals love. True romance focuses on the character and relationships. YA books are very rarely idea-driven or milieu-driven. The best ones aren't even plot or action-driven. They are usually powered by characters and those characters' personal difficulties. And what's more personal and more difficult than romance?

I'm not ashamed of it, I love young adult science fiction and fantasy. Judging by discussions with the rest of the RomSF gang, I'm among fellow enthusiasts. If you're in a reading slump and just can't face another 600 plus page Tad Williams or another mind-stretching David Brin, perhaps it's time to refresh your book-loving spirit. Remember the books that introduced you to reading, those books that you read under the covers with a flashlight. Go back and pick up THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWNTREADER and lose yourself in childhood again. And when you're looking for new books and authors, don't be afraid to wander over to the young adult/teens section of your bookstore. You'll be surprised what you find ...


To grab a piece of the current boom in young adult SF, two different publishers are creating new imprints -- Firebird and Starscape. At least so far, both of these lines only have reprints on their schedules. (Click on the covers to order the books through Amazon and support this site.)

NEW -- More new imprints!
Tor TeenTor is starting a second YA line, Tor Teen, geared for ages 12 and up. It will, at least initially, be reprints only. Tor sees Tor Teen as a bridge between Starscape and their adult Science Fiction. In fact, all of their preliminary list of releases are books that were initially scheduled to be released in the Starscape line -- and most were originally released as adult books. Their first offering, FINDER by Emma Bull, will appear in July 2003, followed by SISTER LIGHT, SISTER DARK by Jane Yolen (Sept 2003), WILDSIDE by Stephen Gould (Nov 2003), WHITE JENNA by Jane Yolen (Jan 2004), CITY OF DARKNESS by Ben Bova (March 2004), and THE ONE-ARMED QUEEN by Jane Yolen (May 2004).

Del Rey books is getting into the game too, having just announced the launch of Del Rey Imagine, designed for readers twelve and older. The imprint will consist of reissues of Del Rey's titles in trade paperback, possibly with a few author-approved alterations to make them age-appropriate. Del Rey has already released their "prototype" -- a new edition of DRAGONFLIGHT by Anne McCaffrey in September 2002. The formal launch will be in May 2003, with THE SWORD OF SHANNARA, PART 1: IN THE SHADOW OF THE WARLOCK LORD, by Terry Brooks, with parts 2 and 3 of THE SWORD OF SHANNARA--THE DRUIDS' KEEP and THE SECRET OF THE SWORD--following in June and July. Robert A. Heinlein's HAVE SPACE SUIT--WILL TRAVEL will be published in August. The imprint is scheduled to have six titles each year - four in the summer and two more for Christmas. Future titles will include Alan Dean Foster's ORPHAN STAR, Robert A. Heinlein's TUNNEL IN THE SKY, and Gordon R. Dickson's THE DRAGON AND THE GEORGE.

(Thanks to Locus Magazine for the news! For more information, see the January 2003 issue.)


 

Penguin Putnam Inc is offering the quarterly Firebird imprint (www.firebirdbooks.com). Their links page lists the websites of Firebird authors and illustrators, as well as publishers, conventions, and general SF.

(Updated 01/22/03)

Spring 2002:


THE EAR, THE EYE, AND THE ARM by Nancy Farmer
Chapter excerpt


FIRE BRINGER by David Clement-Davies
Chapter excerpt
First time in paperback


I AM MORDRED: A TALE OF CAMELOT by Nancy Springer
Chapter excerpt
First time in paperback


WESTMARK by Lloyd Alexander
Chapter excerpt

Summer 2002:


THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD by Robin McKinley
Chapter excerpt

book
SPINDLE'S END by Robin McKinley
Chapter excerpt


CROWN DUEL by Sherwood Smith
Chapter excerpt
First time in paperback


THE KESTREL by Lloyd Alexander
Chapter excerpt


THE BEGGAR QUEEN by Lloyd Alexander
Chapter excerpt

Fall 2002:


I AM MORGAN LE FAY by Nancy Springer
Chapter excerpt
First time in paperback


THE HEX WITCH OF SELDOM by Nancy Springer
Chapter excerpt


GROWING WINGS by Laurel Winter
Chapter excerpt
First time in paperback


THE DREAMING PLACE by Charles de Lint
Chapter excerpt


THE RIDDLE OF THE WREN by Charles de Lint
Chapter excerpt

Spring 2003:


ENCHANTRESS FROM THE STARS by Sylvia Engdahl


MATTIMEO by Brian Jacques


MARIEL OF REDWALL by Brian Jacques


TREASURE AT THE HEART OF TANGLEWOOD by Meredith Ann Pierce
First time in paperback


THE CHANGELING SEA by Patricia A. McKillip


THE WINTER PRINCE by Elizabeth E. Wein

Summer 2003:


THE SIGHT by David Clement-Davies


THE KIN (4-book omnibus)
by Peter Dickinson


CASTAWAYS OF THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
by Brian Jacques


The Firebringer Trilogy:
BIRTH OF THE FIREBRINGER
by Meredith Ann Pierce


The Firebringer Trilogy:
DARK MOON
by Meredith Ann Pierce


The Firebringer Trilogy:
THE SON OF SUMMER STARS
by Meredith Ann Pierce

Fall 2003:


THE BEGUILERS
by Kate Thompson
First time in paperback


THE DOOR IN THE HEDGE
by Robin McKinley


SALAMANDASTRON
by Brian Jacques


TAGGERUNG
by Brian Jacques


The Secret Country Trilogy:
THE SECRET COUNTRY
by Pamela Dean


The Secret Country Trilogy:
THE HIDDEN LAND
by Pamela Dean


The Secret Country Trilogy:
THE WHIM OF THE DRAGON
by Pamela Dean


THE FIREBIRD ANTHOLOGY with various authors (hardcover)

 


SF powerhouse Tor is rolling along with its new YA Starscape line (www.starscapebooks.com). Some titles originally slated to be released in Starscape will be coming out in Tor's new Teen Tor imprint (see above).

(Updated 01/22/03)

January 2002:


FROM THE TWO RIVERS by Robert Jordan
(THE EYE OF THE WORLD, Book 1)
More info


TO THE BLIGHT by Robert Jordan
(THE EYE OF THE WORLD, Book 2)
More info

February 2002:


ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card
More info


JUMPER by Steven Gould
More info

March 2002:


THE COCKATRICE BOYS by Joan Aiken
More info


BRIAR ROSE by Jane Yolen
More info

April 2002:


MAIRELON THE MAGICIAN by Patricia C. Wrede
More info


DOGLAND by Will Shetterly
More info

May 2002:


THE WHISPERING MOUNTAIN by Joan Aiken
More info


ENDER'S SHADOW by Orson Scott Card
More info

June 2002:


ORVIS by Helen Hoover
More info


THE GARDEN BEHIND THE MOON by Howard Pyle
More info

July 2002:


DARK SIDE OF NOWHERE by Neal Shusterman
More info


SISTER LIGHT, SISTER DARK by Jane Yolen

August 2002:


PRINCE OMBRA by Roderick MacLeish
More info


WHITE JENNA by Jane Yolen

October 2002:


A COLLEGE OF MAGICS by Caroline Stevermer
More info

November 2002:


DEEP SECRET by Diana Wynne Jones
More info

December 2002:


THE MAGICIAN'S WARD by Patricia Wrede
More info


ANOTHER HEAVEN, ANOTHER EARTH by H. M. Hoover
More info



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