Young Adult Science Fiction
Young readers have enjoyed science fiction since the days of Jules Verne and H. G.Wells; and stories aimed specifically at nonadults appeared in the mid-twentieth century. Robert A. Heinlein and Andre Norton are merely the most prolific of the many writers who established quality science fiction for teenaged readers in the United States in the 1950s; and, although in Britain there was little contemporary SF of lasting literary merit, David Craigie’s rather unscientific tale of space exploration, The Voyage of the Luna I, appeared as early as 1948. In the context of English literature, therefore, Canada is a latecomer to juvenile science fiction. Even in the sixties, there were only technothriller installments of adventure series:1 an oddly shaped submarine in Frederick Faulkner’s The Aqualung Twins and the ‘Iron Crab’ (1959); a Syndicate plot to use laser technology to extract oil in Edmund Cosgrove’s Terror of the Tar Sands (1968). True SF did not appear until 1975.
However, Canada has two founding nations. Much of the country was settled by colonists from the British Isles; and, as in the United States and Australia, English is the dominant language learned by immigrants. But part of Canada was originally a colony of France; and French is today the mother tongue of approximately one-fifth of the population, concentrated in the province of Quebec. In consequence, there are two Canadian literatures—one French, one English. This is as true of young adult science fiction (YASF) as it is of other genres. In Quebec true SF stories appeared in the early 1960s: Guy Bouchard’s Vénus via Atlantide (Venus via Atlantis, 1961) and Suzanne Martel’s Quatre Montréalais en l’an 3000 (Four Montrealers in the Year 3000, 1963), reissued as Surréal 3000 (1982)—the new title referring to the setting, the subterranean post-holocaust city of Surréal. Martel’s book is considered a minor Canadian classic, sometimes studied in Quebec schools (CDN SF & F: