REVIEW SUMMARY: A sure-fire way to get teenage readers hooked on science fiction.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Anthology of seven original young-adult novellas designed to get kids hooked on science fiction.
PROS: Filled with sense of wonder; strong, positive role-models.
CONS: One story less effective than the others.
BOTTOM LINE: This is simply a very good collection of science fiction stories, for teenagers and adults alike.
This week my daughter’s elementary school had a book fair and I was once again amazed at how many more fantasy titles there are for kids than there are science fiction titles. I could count the number of sf books they offered on one hand and still have enough fingers left over to poke Scholastic in the eyes. To be fair, there is a much higher demand for fantasy these days thanks to books and films like Harry Potter. And, of course, we are happy that kids are reading anything! But that doesn’t stop us here at SF Signal from opining about the lack of science fiction for kids. (Not for the least of reasons which include being able to use a form of the word “opine”.)
Imagine, then, how high my hopes were when I heard about the new young adult sf anthology Escape From Earth edited by well-respected and capable editors Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois. The book is designed to be a gateway to science fiction for younger readers.
It succeeds in a big way…with one caveat. Parents may feel that some of the language (s**t, b***h,) and situations (talk of sex) presented herein might be unsuitable for younger readers but they may decide it’s OK for teenagers. This exemplifies the difference I see between “young adult” and “juvenile” books. The good news is that all the stories have positive messages for young readers, something that, as a parent, I find particularly encouraging and commendable.
While all the stories are good (with one borderline case), the standout ones for me were “Derelict” by Geoffrey A. Landis, “Combat Shopping” by Elizabeth Moon and “The Mars Girl” by Joe Haldeman. Each one of these not only provided the requisite sense of wonder that drew me to the genre in my formative years, but they also contain characters who exhibit positive qualities without being phony.
Reviewlettes of the stories follow.
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