Last week, I posted a list of dystopic fiction that you all might enjoy reading in conjunction with The Giver. Today, I was reading John Scalzi’s blog Whatever, and he reminded me of another booklist I wanted to make.
In today’s post, Scalzi writes about why today’s teens and tweens aren’t reading what us adult science fiction fans read when we were teens. His general conclusions is that you all aren’t reading the classics because you prefer to read contemporary science fiction — things like Little Brother and the other books I listed in last week’s Give It Up for “The Giver” post.
I definitely agree with Scalzi: with so many fantastic science fiction books being written for teens in the 21st century, why would you turn towards books that are 20 years (or more!) old? A lot of the classic science fiction books are set in time periods that are already past — this makes it a little hard to suspend disbelief and imagine the premise as plausible.
However, when I think about what I was reading as a teen, I’m reminded that plenty of my favorites were set in eras that had already past and were written long before I was born. This fact makes me think that maybe there’s another reason teens aren’t reading classic science fiction: maybe you just don’t know about it.
So, working on the assumption that one reason you’re only reading contemporary science fiction is because you’re simply not aware of what came before, here’s a list of some great stories that were written long before you were born:
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Mere seconds before the Earth is to be demolished by an alien construction crew, journeyman Arthur Dent is swept off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher penning a new edition of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. (1979)
Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-reading robots, and robots with a sense of humor; of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world. (1950)
Card, Orson Scott
Ender Wiggin is recruited at the tender age of six to become a soldier engaged in the fight against the Buggers, and alien race that attacked humans decades earlier. (1977)
The White Mountains
Young Will Parker and his companions make a perilous journey toward an outpost of freedom where they hope to escape from the ruling Tripods, who capture mature human beings and make them docile, obedient servants. (1967)
After a terrible accident, a young girl wakes up to discover that she has been given the body of a chimpanzee. (1988)
Have Space Suit, Will Travel
One minute Kip Russell was walking about in his backyard, testing out an old space suit and dreaming about going to the Moon — and the next he was out cold, the captive of an insidious space pirate. The whole thing seemed like a bad dream until Kip discovered there were other prisoners on board, and they were all on their way to the Moon — and a fate worse than death! (1958)
Podkayne of Mars
While accompanying their uncle, a wily politician, on a trip from Mars to Earth, Podkayne and her brilliant but pesky younger brother are caught up in a plot to keep Uncle Tom from an important conference. (1963)
King, Stephen writing as Richard Bachman
The Running Man
Ben Richards is a contestant on the most popular television game show, The Running Man. The winner earns fame and fortune; the loser earns death. (1982)
A Wrinkle in Time
Meg Murry and her friends become involved with unearthly strangers and a search for Meg’s father, who has disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government. (1962)
House of Stairs
Five sixteen-year-old orphans of widely varying personality characteristics are involuntarily placed in a house of endless stairs as subjects for a psychological experiment on conditioned human response. (1974)