Yesterday’s post on women in SF led to some interesting discussion with Aurora about the visibility of women YA writers in the wider science fiction community. I thought it would be worth going over some of the issues in a separate post.
My basic thesis was that while, in the wake of the success of The Hunger Games, women writers are producing a lot of SF for the YA market right now, this isn’t being recognized by the SF community at large. I’m hearing of some very interesting books from Tansy Rayner Roberts (who may well be reading them in part because she’s a Tiptree juror this year), and Aurora mentioned a few more. Here are some that are worth checking out:
- Moira Young, Blood Red Road
- Ally Condie, Matched and Crossed
- Megan McCafferty, Bumped
- Beth Revis, Across the Universe
- Karen Sandler, Tankborn
- Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me
Given the way her book is picking up mainstream award nominations, Moira ought to be a serious candidate for the Campbell next year.
The question that Aurora and I were discussing is how best we can bring these writers to the attention of the SF community.
We probably shouldn’t get into discussing the YA Hugo proposal here as that’s a huge can of worms that could easily take over everything. Let’s leave that for another day, please. There are other awards.
Indeed there is already a set of awards for children’s SF&F, the Golden Ducks, which are actually given out at Worldcon. However, as far as I can see, they have mostly failed to engage the interest of the massive YA readership. They are a juried award, so young people can’t get to participate much.
SFWA, of course, has the Andre Norton Award, and welcomes YA authors as members. However, I’m not sure how successful they are in engaging with them. I saw on Twitter a few days ago that they were appealing for members to serve on the Norton jury, which suggests a lack of interest. I’m sure that the SFWA management is very busy, but equally it seems to me that this burgeoning interest in SF is a potential source of new members. I very much hope that people starting out writing YA SF will want to join SFWA, and not do an Atwood on us.
Getting a YA author as a GoH would be difficult because being a Worldcon GoH is very much a lifetime achievement prize. You need at least 25 years in the business. Ian McDonald is venturing into YA right now, and he’s very much the sort of person who deserves the honor. Indeed I’d venture to suggest that one of the reasons he hasn’t got it yet is that everyone is waiting politely to see what London does. McDonald is by no means a shoe-in, as Iain Banks hasn’t had the honor either, but the Americans won’t want to be seen as treading on London’s toes.
Worldcon can, of course, have Special Guests as well. I’d love to see Chicago try to get Suzanne Collins along, but I suspect that she’s already too big a name for them. However, getting authors to Worldcon is always a chicken and egg situation. Authors will attend a convention if they think they are likely to meet a lot of existing and potential readers there. This is why the work that people like James Bacon are doing to encourage young people to attend Worldcon is so valuable. I’m pleased to see that both Chicago and San Antonio have YA membership rates.
Locus does have occasional YA reviews from Gwenda Bond. They also have a YA category in the Recommended Reading List. I think it is about time that they did a special feature on YA dystopias (hello, Liza?).
Mostly, however, I think it is down to people to talk. If we get enough buzz going online then more people will take notice. It is always hard to get older people to take an interest in what young folks are doing, and that’s especially so when you are talking about asking old men to read books about pregnancy and marriage, even if they are SF, but talk we must. No one else will do it for us.
Well, not quite. I’d like to finish with a quick shout out to Strange Chemistry, the new YA imprint from Angry Robot. Amanda Rutter, I know the above ladies are not in your catalog, but this is very much your fight now. Glad to have you on board.