Young Adult Science Fiction

By C. W. Sullivan Iii | Go to book overview

9
Young Adults, Science Fiction,
and War

Martha Bartter

We should let children choose their own books. What they don’t like, they will
toss aside. What disturbs them too much, they will not look at; and if they look
at the wrong book, it isn’t going to do them that much damage. We treat chil-
dren in a very peculiar way, I think; we don’t treat them like the strong crea-
tures they really are.

Maurice Sendak

Children are tough critics. You can’t kid kids. They have a relentless sense of
logic… . They also know if you begin to condescend or write down to them
…. The kids don’t like it; why should they?

Dr. Seuss1

George Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin begin Fights of Fancy, their volume on war in science fiction (SF), with a statement that simultaneously defines science fiction and anchors it in conflict:

When the casual reader thinks of science fiction and fantasy, the image of warfare comes
to mind at once. In their themes and icons, these two genres appear to have kept alive the
“epic” strain in literature—feats of arms in the service of great causes. Traditionally, SF
has transposed individual deeds of valor and decisive battles to the broader framework
of outer space. And traditional fantasy relocates these same deeds in alternate and
“other” worlds. Both forms sing of arms and the man in vistas that are not just national
or eschatological but cosmic and evolutionary as well. (1)

Certainly we find no lack of stories about warfare even among works aimed at fairly young audiences. For Slusser and Rabkin, as in this chapter, “SF” refers not only to text but also—and very importantly—to movies, TV, and video

-131-

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