Space Sci-Fi in YA Literature
Since writing a space-based science fiction novel for teens, one of the most common questions for me is “Why did you choose to set the novel in space?” While writing it, the question never occurred to me: I wrote about a space ship because my story needed a space ship. When I started sending it out, and later, after it was published, I started getting more and more questions as to why write space sci fi for teens.
It’s a valid question—there ISN’T that much space sci fi out there specifically for the YA genre. When I started researching the market, I found Orson Scott Card, obviously, but very little else. Which begs the question: why isn’t space sci fi more popular in YA literature? I think it’s a question of accessibility. In my opinion, YA is NOT about an age suggestion, it’s about a certain style of writing—a style that involves a fast pace, interesting characters, and cool plot.
Adult sci fi relies heavily on science—one of the tropes for the genre is a detailed, working understanding of the science involved to make the story work. I think a lot of people who like YA consider adult sci fi and get overwhelmed by the science part of it, especially since YA is more about character and less about setting.
What I did—and it’s not revolutionary or anything, other writers have done the same—what I did was just focus on the characters more than the science. Yes, my story takes place on a space ship, but I don’t really go too much into how or why it works—it just does (or doesn’t depending on where in the story you are).
If you look at it, this is what a lot of sci fi television and movies do—focus on the characters and story instead of the science. What makes Doctor Who’s TARDIS work? No one really knows but the Doctor. The exciting thing about the recent reboot of Star Trek isn’t the Enterprise—it’s Jim and Spock.
There’s certainly a place for hard sci fi, or adult sci fi, or whatever label you’d like to give to science fiction heavy on the science. My husband, for one, can’t get enough of it, and I have a friend who compares the science in books to the science she knows in real life. But I think there’s also a place for stories like mine, where the science is in the background and the focus is on the characters. YA is the perfect carrier for my sort of sci fi—and I definitely think it’s on the rise in the future!
Thank you, Beth, for such a fantastic guest post! Be sure to check out Beth's website, and if you haven't yet, my review.
Across the Universe is released on 3rd March 2011. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon UK or buy it from Amazon US
For those of you who have yet to see it, here's the trailer: