Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


So When Will YA Sci-Fi Finally Arrive?

So that title caught our eye and led us to this article, where the existence of YA SF is questioned by Alex Scarrow. It’s a valid question, on the one hand – YA has been flooded by dystopian novels, but rarely in comparison have authors tackled other forms of SF.

And then, on the other hand, we felt as though this was a deeply incorrect view on the YA SF scene. Indeed, we’ve started to see time travel and spaceships on the agenda as well.

Strange Chemistry is publishing four SF titles next year, two of them set in space on other planets.

Beth Revis has published the Across the Universe trilogy to great acclaim. She is now a New York Times bestselling author and has so far garnered two starred reviews from Kirkus.

Melissa West has started a series called The Taking, which features aliens.

Malinda Lo wrote Adaptation – a near future science fiction thriller.

In the Sky Chasers series, Amy Kathleen Ryan brings us a heroine born on a spaceship seeking out a new world.

David Weber is writing a straight up SF series that begins with A Beautiful Friendship.

In Planesrunner, Ian McDonald begins a series featuring parallel worlds.

Forthcoming in 2013 we have:

Starglass by Phoebe North
MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Pivot Point by Kasie West
Vortex by Julie Cross
Altered by Jennifer Rush
Revolution 19 by Gregg Rosenblum

These are the few that we found on a first glance, so we’re sure there are many more.

What we want to know from you is:
– Do you think that YA SF has arrived?
– Is there enough YA SF out there for you or are you craving more spaceships?
– What sort of YA SF is your favourite?


Lexie C.

There’s quite a bit, though very few seem to have series as opposed to duologies or stand alone. Dom Testa wrapped up his very awesome “Galahad” 6 book series, about a group of 250 teenagers sent out to avoid contracting a plague that is wiping out humanity. The cast is diversified and evenly cut gender wise, as well as nationality wise.

There’s also “Losers in Space” by John Barnes was also quite intriguing (a stand alone) and I’d venture to say that Nick James’ “Skyship Academy” is also science fiction, despite the almost dystopic feel to it. Maria V. Snyder had her “Inside Out/Outside In” duology, which is more scifi then dystopic.

I think its a hard field to really grab the YA crowd–not the adults who read it, but actual teenagers and such, because as a writer you have to balance how much technobabble can you incorporate before it starts sounding like a science class? Can you make it belieavable that these kids would be caught up in something when there are adults around? Can you believably cut out the adults and make the kids seem their age, but competent? I think that’s hard to juggle or at least sounds hard to juggle to authors.

Christian Schoon

This rip from my own lamentably slow-to-update blog isn’t precisely on-topic, and some of it addresses games/films vs books, but it’s close enuf to offer some fodder; i.e., YA SF as the Next Big Genre. Hey, ya can’t argue w/ librarians, now can ya?

From Booklist & Michael Cart, Past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association and columnist for Booklist:

“I confess I’ve never been to the Bologna Book Fair, but word has it that it’s a hotbed of emerging trends, and this year’s fair seems to be no exception. The news on the Rialto is that interest in paranormal and dystopian fiction is waning and thrillers and science fiction are now poised on the brink of becoming the next big thing(s).”

From the popular game/movie site IGN:

“Going from Harry Potter to Twilight to Hunger Games, we’ve seen the trend shift from fantasy to science fiction. Maybe the next big thing is a franchise that delves even deeper into sci-fi territory.” (OK, this is games not books. So sue me.)

From “Teen Literature Update 2012”: an Infopeople webinar (Booklist’s Michael Cart redux):

“…the word from a recent book fair is that science fiction is going to be the next big thing, along with thrillers. You heard it here first. Science fiction and thrillers will be the next big wave of young adult literature.”

According to the crystal ball-gazers in Hollywood:

“Studios gorge on young-adult fiction amid success of ‘Hunger Games’

“The back-to-back blockbuster successes of “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and now “The Hunger Games” have turned the hunt for fresh young-adult fiction white-hot in Hollywood, as studios try to turn what used to be a phenomenon into what might be a formula….”

“Frenzied auctions are underway for books that haven’t even been published. Studios are paying as much as $1 million for the rights to adapt titles that are relatively modest sellers, particularly those featuring science-fiction, fantasy and dystopian themes.”

Librarians! Now’s this is a wired-in group with their fingers firmly affixed to the pulse of who’s reading what… Here’s their take from The Hub, the literature blog for YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association.

Upcoming trends we see in YA lit

by Gretchen Kolderup

“We here at The Hub read a lot of YA lit, which gives us a broad perspective on what’s come out recently and what trends in what’s published might be emerging. I asked our bloggers what they’ve been seeing recently; here’s what they had to say.”

“I don’t know if the authors are aware of this, but my teen readers are constantly asking for science fiction, not dystopias.”

– Laura Perenic

“A trend I see coming, other than a glut of dark dystopian/whimsical dystopian novels (is that even a thing?) is straight-up, non-dystopian, space-ships-and-aliens science fiction for teens… I’m seeing more books actually set in space, and with the excitement building over the Ender’s Game movie (plus lots of other SF films coming up) I think (hope!) there will be more and more.”

– Julie Bartel

So, there ya have it. Is young adult sci fi the Next Big Deal? Is dystopian defunct? (on this point, see my earlier post linking to Elizabeth Bear’s dystopian dyscussion…). As far as YA SF being poised to conquer the planet, I think we can safely bet all our holocredits that it is…. (check back here now & then to see if all these obviously very bright people are right!)

Carl V.

I don’t think it has “arrived” per se, but I do think there are some great works that have come out over the last few years. I would add Allen Steele’s book Apollo’s Outcasts to that list, and though dystopian I would also add Paolo Bacigalupi’s novels Shipbreaker and The Drowned Cities.

I think it is on the rise, or at least that is the point your post makes and I agree. I think it has yet to arrive in the way that fantasy has arrived. Hunger Games is the closest SF thing we’ve had to Harry Potter or Twilight and while it belongs in the SF realm I know I’d like to see more optimistic and space-exploration-centric SF explode onto the YA scene with a Harry Potter-like intensity.

Candace @ Lovey Dovey Books

I definitely feel that YA SF has arrived, has probably been around for years, but the authors who are writing those kinds of novels aren’t getting the vast amounts of attention they deserve. I’ve seen plenty of science-fiction reads like The Lazurus Machine by Paul Crilley (PYR) and Apollo’s Outcasts by Allen Steele(PYR) that are written for young adults. YA Sci-fi that isn’t dystopian, is there if you look for it.


I can confirm that YA Sci-Fi has been around for years…I was reading it back in the late 70s, before I hit my teens! I stopped reading it aged 10 or 11, as I got adult tickets at my local library at that point and discovered adult sci-fi and historical naval novels.
There was a lot more sci-fi, both adult and YA on main stream TV back then too.
I think it may have gone into hibernation for a while, but I’m starting to see more books in this vein in the press.


Bit late here but around the time you posted this I was musing on my tumblr that dystopians don’t even feel like science fiction to me anymore, most of them lack that focus on, well, science and technology that’s in the name of the genre and I feel like the two get squeezed together because most dyspotias are in the future and sci-fi is always in the future right? I do wish for more variety in YA sci-fi, there’s little “hard” science fiction out there it feels like and I feel like what I have read in the past few years isn’t coming up with any new and exciting ideas. So crossing my fingers that we get more in the coming years since more titles to choose from means a greater chance I’ll find something that I actually enjoy.

Leave a comment