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Popularity of Science Fiction... Up or Down?

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Do you think the popularity of science fiction in on the increase or on the decrease lately in the MG/YA category?

I'm curious because I've heard it said the during times of widespread economic hardship, the popularity of science fiction tends to decline (and the popularity of fantasy tends to increase). Supposedly, science fiction is more popular during times of economic prosperity because people are more optimistic about what we can accomplish with technology and whatnot.

I know Scott Westerfield's Uglies/Pretties/Etc. series is big right now--know of any other current science fiction MG/YA novels that are doing as well?
#1 - June 27, 2008, 05:57 PM
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m_stiefvater

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I think it's on the rise! Scott Westerfield has shown it's cool to write/ read sci-fi and I seem to see it everywhere now. FEED by M. T. Anderson is one of my all time YA favorites and I just finished an ARC of THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins that was absolutely amazing as well -- both diehard sci-fi. Oh, and Neil Schusterman's UNWIND, of course.

And all of Scott Westerfield's titles (PEEPS is really my favorite of his) take up a HUGE amount of shelf space at the bookstores I've been too -- which is generally an indicator of good sell-through, especially when they aren't brand new titles.

I would think the popularity of sci-fi would increase in times of economic and social hardship, actually. Because good sci-fi tends to be a commentary on our current social climate, taken to extremes.

Wow, I sound like a diehard sci-fi fan after this post, don't I? I'm not really -- I just like good fiction. And I think that's pretty much the rule. Stand out titles of any genre sell no matter what.
#2 - June 27, 2008, 06:22 PM

ecb

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I'm cautiously optimistic for an upswing, actually.  For a few years there, you'd be hard pressed to name even a handful of current titles that were SF for the YA market--but just this year two Blueboarders have published SF novels: THE COMPOUND and LOST TIME.
#3 - June 27, 2008, 11:03 PM

catephoenix

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I have only started reading Sci-Fi recently - so maybe that is an indication that it's on the rise???  :tigger
#4 - June 28, 2008, 12:53 AM

Is The Adoration of Jenna Fox considered science fiction? I haven't read it yet--no spoilers! :)
#5 - June 28, 2008, 09:03 AM
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My latest series (still a work in progress) is more science fiction than fantasy, and for what it's worth, my foreign agent said that the response abroad was really positive- everyone is interested in science fiction, and were particularly fascinated by the idea of science fiction FOR GIRLS.  I have no idea about the domestic market, because I only work with one house, but their request for the series was that it be more science fiction than fantasy.
#6 - June 28, 2008, 11:12 AM

Jaina

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I love science fiction for girls.  There needs to be more!
#7 - June 28, 2008, 11:22 AM

Awesome--my WIP is science fiction for girls.

Side Note: Anyone ever heard this genre referred to as "skiffy"?
#8 - June 28, 2008, 12:49 PM
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Side Note: Anyone ever heard this genre referred to as "skiffy"?

I found this article:  http://www.sfwa.org/misc/skiffy.htm
#9 - June 28, 2008, 06:13 PM

I found this article:  http://www.sfwa.org/misc/skiffy.htm

Maybe that's where I heard the term.

I also just remembered that the City of Ember movie is coming out soon, so that's a good sign for science fiction too.
#10 - June 28, 2008, 07:46 PM
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Virginia Bartolus

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I stumbled upon this awhile ago:

http://www.chasingray.com/archives/2007/03/where_for_art_thou_young_adult_1.html

It's over a year old, but it talks about how many books qualify as SF, but publishers are afraid to list them as such. In Barry Goldblatt's comment, he says this:

While fantasy has overcome the geek/nerd association, science fiction is still firmly saddled with it.

When you read through the titles listed there, it's obvious that YA SF is being published-- it's just not being called that. I suppose that if you can describe your book as something other than science fiction-- adventure, gothic, mystery, thriller, etc-- then you have a better chance.

But that discussion is a year old, and the YA market changes fast. Sometimes, all it takes is one person to say something is the new hot thing. So I'll say it now:

YA science fiction is the new hot thing!   :smile
#11 - June 29, 2008, 06:54 PM

YAmom

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Thanks for starting this thread, I've been wondering some of this myself. It's been weird, because I didn't see The Compound as sci-fi at all, but then a major sci-fi site did a podcast interview with me about the book.  So now, to be honest, I'm actually making my second YA sway a bit more toward sci-fi than I'd originally intended. But the MC is not a girl....
#12 - June 29, 2008, 07:06 PM

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Thanks for the link, Virginia. Very interesting article & comments. :D
#13 - June 30, 2008, 04:44 AM
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It's been weird, because I didn't see The Compound as sci-fi at all, but then a major sci-fi site did a podcast interview with me about the book.  So now, to be honest, I'm actually making my second YA sway a bit more toward sci-fi than I'd originally intended. But the MC is not a girl....

I didn't really think of my MG novel as science fiction either until my agent started calling it that. Then I realized that it seems more like a fantasy novel at first, but the ending is %100 science fiction. I think I just saw it as fantasy because that's what's big lately.
#14 - June 30, 2008, 05:16 PM
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Quzi

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LOST TIME is science fiction for girls. Since I sold it 2005, I've noticed a increase in sf projects being acquired and published. According to Nathan Bransford's blog kids sf and fantasy projects out sell adult offerings two to one. I think this is because kids' writers haven't lost their sense of wonder and adventure and hopefulness about the future.

Good luck with your book, Whizbee.
Susan
#15 - June 30, 2008, 05:34 PM

Thanks. When I'm looking for a book to read, I personally find science fiction/fantasy for kids to be more approachable than the same for adults. Adult books in these genres can be a little harder to jump into (although I still like reading them, esp. the genre's classics).

I think there needs to be a science fiction smiley. :spaceship ?
#16 - June 30, 2008, 05:52 PM
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Parzival

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The catch with YA science fiction is that most YA readers of SF aren't looking for it on the YA shelves; they're looking on the SF shelves on the other side of the store.

Having said that, one of my favorite series right now is Timothy Zahn's Dragonback series (Dragon and Thief, Dragon and Soldier, etc.), which despite the title are Science Fiction novels in the grand tradition of Robert Heinlein's "juveniles." They feature a fourteen-year-old protagonist, an alien dragon (who exists two dimensionally as a tattoo), spaceships and interstellar warfare. I've seen them shelved as YA in some stores, Children's in others, and even on "adult" SF shelves. I think the sixth book just appeared, so they've certainly been successful for Zahn.
#17 - August 12, 2008, 02:53 PM

That sounds interesting.

I love Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel."

Is Zahn's series much like Anne MacCaffrey's dragon series in its mix of science fiction and fantasy elements?
#18 - August 12, 2008, 03:05 PM
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Parzival

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That sounds interesting.

I love Heinlein's "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel."

Is Zahn's series much like Anne MacCaffrey's dragon series in its mix of science fiction and fantasy elements?


No, it's strictly science fiction. The alien just looks like a (wingless) dragon. But the fact that he does look like an ancient human legend seems to be part of a subtle subplot that I suspect will become very significant in the next book.
#19 - August 13, 2008, 08:53 AM

I've been enjoying The Gideon Trilogy (The Time Travellers, The Time Thief, Book III coming soon). The author, Linda Buckley-Archer, said somewhere that she absolutely positively wanted NO magic elements in this "science" fiction time travel work.

I sense a Harry Pottered to Death rejection of the world of wizardry, eh?

(Not me! I'm omniverous and will continue to enjoy all sorts of novels, stories, cereal boxes, prescription cautions....)
#20 - August 13, 2008, 10:11 AM

rbt

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I think sci fi is on the rise. Hybrids are also good. Then there are those hybrid books with a ratio aspect. They may be more sci fi than fantasy or vesa versa.
#21 - August 18, 2008, 02:31 PM

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The catch with YA science fiction is that most YA readers of SF aren't looking for it on the YA shelves; they're looking on the SF shelves on the other side of the store.

Depends on what store they are in.  In MY store, YA is next to SF and Graphic Novels -- not childrens.

And increasingly, YA is being taken out of the kids section -- and even, sometimes, put across the store from it.  :-)
#22 - August 18, 2008, 07:04 PM
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Whizbee: now there are three people still living who have never recovered from reading Have Space Suit, Will Travel--thee, me, and Connie Willis!
#23 - August 19, 2008, 10:34 AM
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 10:35 AM by AnneB »

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An  interesting article about the popularity of YA sci fi versus adult sci fi (with the former being a lot more popular):

http://io9.com/5036820/young-adult-books-will-save-science-fiction
#24 - August 19, 2008, 11:18 AM

Whizbee: now there are three people still living who have never recovered from reading Have Space Suit, Will Travel--thee, me, and Connie Willis!

Only three, huh? I think I liked it because I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid.
#25 - August 19, 2008, 12:44 PM
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