The ladies of io9 kicked off a neatly polarised debate over the weekend with two opposing articles about YA or “young adult” science fiction. Charlie Jane Anders says that YA is science fiction’s salvation:
“While the “real” science fiction publishers are chasing a shrinking — and graying — readership, tweens and teens are discovering SF for themselves, thanks to books from a diverse range of writers. Best of all, YA science fiction isn’t aimed at a subculture, but at everybody of a particular age.”
Meanwhile Annalee Newitz begs us to stop writing young adult sf:
“… I object to the idea that young people need their own special, segregated genre of books, as if their minds are so dramatically different from adult minds that they require their own category of fantasy. Once a person has reached adolescence, relegating their reading material to its own gated subgenre seems at best condescending and at worst censorious.”
I’ll happily admit to falling into the latter camp. It’s not even a science fiction specific issue for me; no teenager enjoys being patronised with material specially designed for their age demographic, because all a teenager wants is to be treated like an adult. Plus I’ve worked in a public library, and I can tell you that a lot more adults borrow supposedly YA titles than kids in their early teens. [image by pingnews.com]
So, “Young Adult” books – a shot-in-the-arm for genre fiction, or a flash-in-the-pan from the marketing people?