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Thursday, May 28th, 2009

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Children's Science Fiction
What Science Fiction & Fantasy books would you read to children?

This is kind of a hard question to answer because the boundaries of the genre called Science Fiction simply does not apply to the kind of books children tend to like.

For example, is ON BEYOND ZEBRA by Dr. Seuss a science fiction story? It has a conceit more imaginative than anything I have read outside the pages of VOYAGE TO ARCTURUS by Lindsay: namely, what if there were an additional alphabet, an undiscovered alphabet, beyond the boundaries of the alphabet we know. The idea is just as whimsical and imaginative as the conceit for Scott Westefeld’s MIDNIGHTERS, which asks what if there were an additional hour hidden in the crack of midnight that only certain people could enter. For that matter, how is the conceit of HORTON HEARS A WHO all that different from GIRL IN THE GOLDEN ATOM by Ray Cummings?

DOCTOR DOLITTLE’S ADVENTURES by Hugh Lofting or TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stephenson are equally beloved children’s books, even though, if we were to define SFF strictly, the veterinarian who speaks to animals is a fantasy element, his flight to the moon is a science fiction element, whereas a one-legged pirate seeking buried treasure has nothing science-fictional about it.

For children, all stories are stories, and the spice of fantasy flavors all of them. A tale about a runaway boy and an escaped slave rafting down the wide Mississippi is no less fantastic or romantic than a tale about a hobbit being hired as a burglar by a throng of dwarfs and trooping off toward the Lonely Mountain.

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